Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The gluten-free religion

It was lunch time and we were hungry. The mall wasn't crowded, so I spoke with a kebab vendor, we'll call him kebab vendor #1, who assured us that the skewered chicken and rice could be prepared gluten-free.

I could see that he was just throwing pita slices over the kebabs as they cooked on the grill, so I asked him to cook ours separately, which he did by setting the skewers on the unused, low heat side of the grill. They took longer to cook because the heat was not as high. Just before the kebabs were done, another employee, kebab vendor #2, innocently grabbed the skewer and stuck the chicken on high heat, right where the pita had been seconds before.

I think I probably cried, "Nooooooooooooo!" Winces all around. My freakout factor related to food preparation would have been unimaginable six months ago. Blood tests at the three month mark indicated that our celiac daughter was still getting exposure to gluten from somewhere, exposure that even in minute quantities damages her small intestines, makes her sick, and puts her at greater risk for malignancies and osteoporosis.

After I explained that my daughter can't have any contact with wheat, kebab vendors #1 and #2 jointly put a fresh kebab on the 'clean,' low-heat side of the grill. It took ages to cook. In fact, my husband finished eating before ours was ready. While we were waiting, the woman came over and asked if she could ask a personal question.

Did my daughter not eat wheat, kebab vendor #2 wanted to know, because of our religion?

I am still trying to imagine the religion that would forbid the eating of wheat.

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