Stuffed picnic bread.

Gluten Sensitivity and Loving Bread

Yep – I have gluten sensitivity, but in my case that is also like saying I have gourmet potato chip sensitivity or red wine sensitivity. By expressing loving restraint, I have found peace between my gluten sensitivity and my desire to indulge in well-made bread.

Indulge in way too much and my body says WHAT?!!, and in that warning I am lucky – as I have learned to heed the bodily feedback and there are no lasting physical damages like the 1 in 133 people (at the time of posting) in Canada that are estimated to have celiac disease according to the Canadian Celiac Association. With my simple cookʼs math and the help of Statistics Canada and Canadian Celiac Association online resources, approximately 34,877,320 of Canadians do not have celiac disease and 264,222 do, and somewhere amidst all those numbers are people with gluten sensitivity.

During chef training and now in my continued lifetime study of food, a gift that I have received is that the more exposure to multitudes of food experiences that I have, the more I have learned to respect variety in the diet. Honouring the beautiful balance between loving restraint (everything in moderation) and loving open mindedness (including moderation – quote attributed to Oscar Wilde, Horace Porter) is the true sweet spot for me. As a chef, I am a better judge of foods’ complexities when I am consciously abstaining from overindulging as this helps to make the palate really come alive, and what an experience it is when you do give yourself that chance to be wrapped up in the full experience of a treat.

Yes – I do mean wrapped, like a motherʼs arms or a blanket on a cold night. Recognition that there truly is love baked and cooked into some foods is another developed sensitivity that I have! Can we all just remember that the conditions placed on our collective food experiences by over-emphasized food trends, food phobias, food reporting and nutrition science can be stifling. Unconditional love is remembering that, collectively, we do not yet possess complete knowledge about the human body and its workings. We should do our food homework and trust ourselves at the same time. Know that many, many food producers do what they do because of unconditional and uncompromising love for their product, craft and industry.

Recently, I was in an altered state of consciousness. I had abandoned myself to sopping up, with the most incredibly hearty, alive-with-flavour and textured bread – a black, dense and rich, lemony, cuttlefish (like squid ink) sauce that had been combined with capers and samphire (green coastal sea vegetables saturated with sea flavours) – and perfect gnocchi at Lawrence Restaurant in Montreal. The care and generosity of spirit the team put into that dish and all their others, their environment, staffing, and their warm, baked-in-house bread (which Chef Marc Cohen generously told me was in the style of Tartine Bread and master baker Chad Robertsonʼs style) was beyond measuring in a food lab.

Considering the health benefits of experiencing pure joy, we have got to loosen up every once in a while and sink into the pleasures of the bite. There is nothing like simply burying hands in bowls and getting some flour on your nose to gain some perspective. Learning the delayed gratification lessons of do-it-yourself, as wafting bread aromas spirit around the kitchen is another way to honour, enjoy, savour, every bite. Intuitive skills are developed as you partner with breads’ simple ingredients in their complex dance of nature and chemistry – priceless lessons. In making bread, as I think Iʼm teaching my kids – with elbow grease – comes sweet reward. When the family has time to make bread, my kids teach me that the process and joy of discovery is never work!

Thankfully there are now multitudes of flours, ingredients and recipes to satisfy every bread-eaterʼs needs, whether doing it yourself or sourcing from a caring bread-making artisan.

Stuffed picnic bread pictured above made and shared with love by Tom (13) and Nancy.

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