Food is universal. Food is powerful. Food is necessary.
Food can be beautiful, or it can look obscene.
Food can be bitter, sweet, acidic, salty or tangy. It can come in different shapes and sizes. From plants and animals to fungi, we and all those around us feast on nature’s plentiful bounty. Food is a joy for many and a curse for others including myself. It was not always a source of pain and anguish, but it has become so as I have allowed dietary restrictions to rule my life. I focus on what I cannot eat, on the pain that is inflicted during a celiac reaction, and all of my memories of sweet and wonderful food become twinged with anger and sadness.
I spent my youth with an unusual propensity towards cooking and most importantly baking. I would adore the time I spent with my mother baking in the kitchen, and I became quite proficient at it as the years went by. I cooked Sunday dinners from the time I was in middle school because I so badly wanted to cook like my mother could. I could role out a flawless pie crust, create fancy and artist breads tied in braids, bake cakes from scratch and decorate them with ornate designs. I was no professional by any means, but I had a natural affinity towards it. Baking was one of my all time favorite things to do on the weekends. Then it started to hurt me. Now, I think of it of those memories and stifle back tears.
I was good at it, which is not something I flaunt about haphazardly. I loved it as much as I love to dance and do music. If I am honest, I probably liked it more than those two hobbies because I did not need to practice in a structured way or attend class in order to bake. I have not been able to bring myself to dive into gluten free baking since my diagnosis almost 5 years ago. I can’t seem to bring myself to do it without wanting to cry and feel stripped of the skills I possess. If I put my mind to it, I could likely make a beautifully textured cake even today. I never thought I would miss doing something as much as I miss baking.
It makes me angry with food that I am so limited in my choices. I read of others with my same limited diets that thrive and enjoy the necessary experimentation, but I have fallen into a tempestuous relationship that I do not know how to change. I don’t know how to regain that joy I felt in my childhood as worked the dough in my hands. There is a texture that cannot be replaced. Unable to eat gluten, dairy, sugar or carbs my options are rather limited to experiment with. It feels as though it is impossible to do. Impossible to enjoy it again.
I have been watching food shows and documentaries, learning of the things that empower and inspire chefs around the globe. I hope that I can find a way to no longer feel angry with food, and be able to feel that joy again. I know that I may not find inspiration from watching the joy of others, but at least it gets me looking in the right direction. I don’t want to focus on why it makes me angry, I want to focus on how I can change that.