By Emily Capps
For five years, I was sleeping 14 to 18 hours a day. The doctors (I went to a million of them) said I was fine, nothing wrong with me.
Enter my friend David. He had exactly the same symptoms that I had before being diagnosed with celiac disease. Celiacs – and gluten-intolerant folks like me who just have sensitive digestive tracts – can’t tolerate gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
Yup, that means pizza, pasta, bread, beer, soy sauce, cakes, cookies and crackers – pretty much all the goodies – are off limits. Or else.
Thankfully, the food industry is catching up and now offers some great gluten-free (GF) alternatives. From mom-and-pops – who started their businesses out of frustration over a lack of choices – to the behemoths, there are a lot more options available than even a year ago.
As you would probably expect, Whole Foods carries lots of GF items. But did you know they have their own dedicated facility that produces GF baked goods? That’s a big deal.
I was there the other day, staring into the GF section of the freezer looking for cookies, when a guy came up and proclaimed that the pecan pie was to die for. They were out, but I went home with an apple one. On bite six, I realized it was the first apple pie I’d had in more than four years. And it was good!
Return to Eden is another great resource. In fact, if it wasn’t for their GF Tours, during which you can sample various GF products, I would have wasted a lot of time and money on things that didn’t suit me.
I know some GF folks don’t eat out. But for me, that’s not an option. Ever. I used to work in restaurants, so I know to just be ridiculously apologetic when asking the millions of questions I need answered.
Doc Chey’s was the first restaurant I was aware of that had a GF menu (you have to ask for it). Everyone there is knowledgeable and genuinely interested in making sure the food they serve doesn’t make you sick. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by the responses GF people get from some wait staff.
Speaking of wait staff, Mezcalito’s people are happy to substitute flour tortillas with corn. One of the Saba owners is vegan and “gets” the special-diet issue. So ask questions there – they won’t give you the stink eye (check out their GF noodles with Thai peanut sauce – it’s amazing!). Saba even notes on their menu, “If you feel your dietary needs aren’t being taken seriously, ask for a manager.”
GF gourmands can count on the BookHouse Pub, Ray’s and Season’s 52. Shaun’s Social Club & Restaurant even has monthly prix-fixe GF offerings. Special mention: The Midway. Thoughtful service. Great GF food.
As for pizza, get thee to Pizza Fusion and Buckhead Pizza Company for the almost-real deal. I’ll see you there.
Emily Capps is a gluten-free, freelance writer who lives in East Atlanta with a giant dog that eats anything he darn well pleases.