Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Feeling Happy

When I discovered I couldn't eat foods with gluten, I learned a new phrase: "feeling safe."
You could go to a friend's house who also has celiac disease, and know you'd be fed something that wouldn't literally gnaw at your guts for the next 24 hours. You'd be safe.
You might be able to go to a coffeehouse that serves gluten-free treats and enjoy a chocolate muffin, hopefully feeling safe. (Turns out I wasn't safe. Curse them and their maelstrom of airborne wheat flour.)
You could definitely cook for yourself and know you were safe.
But shopping for gluten-free ingredients had me a bit intimidated. Yes, Whole Foods has several products that are safe, but they're expensive and not all yummy.
Trader Joe's is supposed to have a substantial supply of gluten-free foods, but I didn't hit the jackpot there.
My local retro supermarket, which I love, carries plenty of gluten-free frozen dinners and some crackers and alternative flours, but you couldn't live off that stuff, day in and day out.
(I know that plenty of natural food is naturally gluten-free. Trust me. We are big on beans and rice and produce around here. Mm.)
I whimpered to Cranky: "Why isn't there a gluten-free store? This is Marin County, after all. Wouldn't there be one?"
He shrugged and said it probably wouldn't be a "safe" business model.
The other day I got a blood test at 7 a.m., and since we were up and about, we decided to look at a natural foods store a couple of towns over, toward West Marin. In all my years here, I'd never shopped at Good Earth. I was hoping they might have a healthy approach to dietary restrictions, the sweet hippies. (The store first opened in 1969!) But we were too early; we'd need to come back at 9 and I didn't feel like hunkering in the parking lot for 40 minutes.
We circled back toward home, and happened to spot another market we wanted to check out. It was OK, not worth a trip (except for the fish market). But we ended up frittering away the better part of half an hour, and sure enough, it was time to return to Good Earth.
My intention was to make a beeline for the baking department, because I wanted some hard-to-find quinoa flour. But I kept getting distracted by all the little blue labels affixed to shelves here and there throughout the store. The labels said "Gluten Free." There were many, many, many of the little blue labels. Everywhere, interspersed among the "regular" foods.
I felt safe! Somebody there cares enough about the difficulties of dietary restrictions to make shopping easy. Oh, not just easy. The store is literally bursting with gluten-free foods. I almost bought a bottle of gluten-free salad dressing. (I don't BUY salad dressing!)
Everywhere I looked I found safe options: snacks, soups, pastas. It was a little overwhelming, and I'm planning on going back just to see if I can take it all in sensibly. At that first moment, however, I was just reeling with joy. Whimpering, actually.
"Why," I asked Cranky, "must we rely on the loving sensibilities of hippies to make us feel safe? Celiac disease is an equal-opportunity scourge. Anybody can get it."
But this is Marin County, after all. We have a gluten-free store.
I feel fortunate. I feel safe. I feel happy.
I wish you had a store like this.


Kailyn said...

Yep. If anyone would have a gluten-free store, it would be Marin County. Not so sure about Sonoma County but I also feel pretty sure that Humboldt County would have one as well.

Congrats on finding a plethora of safe foods.

dancingmorganmouse said...

O yay, safe shopping pour vous. Gluten free often tastes shortbready to me, do you find it so?

Elizabeth said...

All those Bob's Red Mill products you bought - they're just south of here. New Cascadia - all gluten-free goodness. Hawthorne Fish House where you can have GF fish and chips, and Deschutes Brewery with GF beer on tap - you just need to move to Portland! Come up and visit and I'll share the wealth.

Zoomie said...

I'm happy for you and relieved for myself that I don't have to undertake a similar search. I know you, however, and I know you'll make of this adversity an adventure in trying new foods. Right on!

Kel said...

whoop! so glad you have found a safe place! that store is crazy good!!!! lots of packaged goods, all organic, but , hmmm. Its my brother in laws store, they have a 40th anniversary party coming up.. you're welcome to attend, evereyone is. every time we stay in Fairfax i get swoony love there and its a good thing they pay coz the exchange rate sux! Can i pass you post on to them??

fastgrowtheweeds said...

Tapioca flour!!

I am glad you found a little slice of happiness. (Maybe you should really go all hippie and buy a grain mill?) Look at all those fab blog posts of the future!

jervell said...

What was the store with the great fish market?

cookiecrumb said...

Kailyn: It's all wrong, isn't it? And yet we predicted (me and Cranky) that the hippies would have it right. I bet you're right about Sonoma, and for SURE about Humboldt.

Mouse: We overloaded our larder with funny flours to do some experimenting. I had a vile taste of a muffin not long ago that tasted 1) raw, and 2) cornmealish. I found a frozen gluten-free bread that tastes like... Bread! It's good.

Elizabeth: Wasn't it you who already made me jealous about the fried oysters? Sigh. I'll be happy to make a trip; Portland has cool food bloggers! And bless Bob.

Zoomie: Baby steps, baby. It's a whole new world out there. Thank goodness I already know how to eat bacon and eggs, and they're allowed. The best part is Cranky's really into the adventure.

Kel: OMG! This is such a sweet connection. Let me know next time you come to Fairfax, eh? Your brother in law! Talk about swoon.
Of COURSE you can pass this post along to him. I'm honored.

Fast: I'm trying not to turn this into a gluten-free blog, but I just had to gush about the store.
Hm. Grain mill? That's more doable than you think.
Anyway. You want tapioca flour? Say the word.

Jervell: It was Andronico's. It was so early in the morning, all the fish hadn't even been delivered yet, but what was out looked really good, and the best part was the fishmonger -- he's really into his job, and he'll take special orders.

Sam said...

I am sad for when you are no longer safe, but happy you have found some safe refuge, too.


mimicooks said...

Sorry you tested positive but now you know!

You two are good cooks so I'm sure you'll find a way to make tasty baked goods to fill the void.

Yep, the natural foods stores are definately the place to go for all things gluten free.

This will also give you a chance to try out new grains like quinoa and all of the fancy rice that is out there. I know that when I eat a good grain dish, I don't miss a side of bread.

namastenancy said...

Adventures in climbing the Mt. Everest of Gluten - I know you can do it and entertain, enlighten and educated us while doing so.

dancingmorganmouse said...

Oysters are, of course, gluten free ;)

Chilebrown said...

I though the Gluten-Free store was right next to the Estonian ice-dancing surplus store in Marin.

musingegret said...

Thought of you when I found this writeup for a gluten-free curry (yes curry!) cookie.

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: Doesn't this beat all? I would NEVER have expected it. I'd doing fine... See you soon!

Mimi: Unless I got sent through a worm hole, when I went to your blog it was full of recipes made with wheat flour. ???

Nancy: I promise not to enlighten you too much. I'm hoping for the day when even I'M bored by gluten-free (from having adhered to it so faithfully).

Mouse: And if you bite them, there's no wriggle. Oh, and I've been known to carry my own "safe" crackers with me in the car! Hee.

Chilebrown: It is! What a wonderful place.

MusingEgret: Ooh! Thank you. That sounds good on so many levels.

mimicooks said...

I don't blog recipes that I don't change in some way (I have an irrational fear of copywrite infringement). I eat grains other than wheat but so far, I haven't blogged about them very much. :0)

I am currently battling a sourdough addiction that isn't being helped along by the YeastSpotting event on Wild Yeast. So... you may want to avoid my blog, lol!!

Anna Haight said...

I was just at Good Earth today -- yum yum - and what a coincidence! I don't get to Fairfax that often. That store has all kinds of treasures. Now my pockets are empty though.

cookiecrumb said...

Anna: I haven't been back yet, but I'm looking forward to it. We squandered a few shekels at the farmers market this morning... all gluten-free. Produce, nuts and honey! And cheese.