For a while now I’ve been meaning to put together an explanation/introduction of sorts. You see, we kind of decided to turn the site into a gluten-free safe-haven without ever really discussing it with anyone or fully explaining why. I assure you, there was method to our madness.
Let’s see, all of this starts about a year ago… maybe a little less. I know, bare with me, I’m about to take you all on a time journey here.
So, roughly about three years ago, Mel & I decided to start up a catering company in Glyfada to share everything we knew & loved about food with whom ever was brave enough to order from us.
Then, a year ago, along came ‘Whatever’s Left’ & we really started to get in touch with the foodies that lived deep within us. I suppose one can say that’s where the struggle began. All of a sudden we had started doing something that led to us spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen & getting absolutely every work surface available to us completely dirty. Lets not even discuss the state of our dishes!
Shortly after the blog started, I was offered a position as the head pastry chef over at the Toni Martin Cake Boutique in Kifissia. All fantastic things mind you & a complete honour that they wanted me to be part of the team.
So far this all sounds pretty standard huh? You see, the trouble is that prior to our catering & blogging expedition, & my attempt to take over the world with freshly baked goods, I was a bit of a health nut. Never really ate pasta, bread, desserts. Actually, I was kind of boring when it came to my food choices. I lived on healthy salads. Actually, most evenings Mel & I would pay a little visit to the green-grocers down the street where we would pick up what ever our hearts desired & make the biggest, most delicious salads the eyes had ever seen. Then we would sit over this giant bowl, a fork each & just devour every last bite. So you see now, there wasn’t much in my diet that would have upset me. I was always the girl who chose rice over pasta, and cheese & tomatoes over dessert.
Now we get to the fun stuff….
As we started getting heavily into the cooking, and I was in the bakery every single day squaring away freshly baked cookies & secretly devouring cupcakes that hadn’t been accounted for, I was realizing every day that I was starting to feel worse & worse. I had bloating in my stomach that just wouldn’t go away, I was actually starting to look a little like a balloon. All of a sudden I was tired & moody all the time, and as time progressed, my joints had started swelling becoming incredibly painful. It got to the point that I could no longer be that strong, independent woman I had envisioned myself as, but rather the weak little girl who had to go running to Mel every time I wanted to open a bottle of water.
I did what any sane human would do I poured time into staring at medical sites & googling my symptoms. All signs seemed to point to an intolerance to gluten or worse, celiac’s disease. So, I did the logical thing & kept a food journal, stayed off gluten for a week & waited to see what would happen.
Nothing. Nada. No results. I was still miserable.
Finally Mel had enough of all of my complaining & just generally watching me be weak & pathetic & he took me to see a doctor. That was it, it was confirmed. I was gluten intolerant for sure & to be tested for celiac’s disease as soon as possible! (ok, so I haven’t gone for the testing, I’m a little scared, but still). Apparently, it can take a month or more to start feeling better. Who knew?! All that damage you’ve done to your poor gut takes time to recover.
You want to guess what I did as soon as I found out? Well, I had Mel take us into the centre of Athens, go to my favorite Irish pub, ordered a HUGE red beer, fish & chips, and cake for dessert. I made him treat me to a last-meal of sorts.
There’s no way you can get hit with that kind of news & not have a final good-bye to your old way of life. Go on, I dare you to try going gluten-free without one last hoorah!
The adjustment was hard & I slipped up all the time. Never consciously, but that doesn’t change things.
I did the obvious like staying away from bread & pasta. No more freshly baked warm cake straight out of the oven at work. No more anything, life as I’d known it had changed completely.
……and yet, I was still having attacks.
The amount of hidden gluten that’s out there! There was no more sushi because both wasabi & soya sauce both have wheat in them. No more beer. No more Colman’s English mustard. In fact, no more eating anything any where without first asking what was in it. Do you know what a pain it is to show up at a dinner party and have to say “Excuse me, but can you please show me exactly what you put in everything so I can read the labels?”.
It was a complete nightmare.
Did you know that cross contamination hurts every bit as much? Even though my favorite brand of crisps didn’t technically have any gluten filled ingredients in them, the label clearly said “may contain traces of gluten”. Now those were off the table too!
I went from eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to all of a sudden being a prisoner of my stomach. And you can forget about eating on the go or just grabbing something from the grocery store…. yeah, right.
So there I was, trying my best to stay positive. Feeling better one day at a time, and looking a little sad & pathetic whilst doing it. I have to say though, Mel was just incredible. Do you know that he scoured the organic stores in search of a gluten-free pizza for me? I mean, the man was (and still is) my hero. I mean think about it, he doesn’t have to change his diet, and yet he is doing everything he can to try & accommodate mine. If that doesn’t say love, then what does?
To make an incredibly long story a little bit shorter, the blog had to take a turn to the realms of gluten-free. Watching Mel cook ‘normal food’ was just far too torturous for me to handle. Slowly slowly we started looking at new ways to make things. Now, whilst I know this has been a learning curve for both of us, and sometimes it has been a bit of a hit-&-miss situation in the kitchen, we have gotten through it together. I’d like to think that we’re offering a service to many out there who have been through hell & back with this thing just like I have.
The next goal on the list for us to achieve? Gluten-free bread. Lord I miss bread. Freshly baked soft, chewy, crunchy on the outside bread absolutely smeared with honey. I will get there, and when I do, I’m bringing you all with me.
WISH ME LUCK! xxx