As I stumbled home from an early morning trip to the local farmers market with arms full of bread (no kidding, three types of bread is all I got), I could not help but wonder, what am I doing. I’ve always said I eat like a baker. Bread, muffins, cookies. You get the picture. I eat a load of gluten. Said the glutenfree baker….
Honestly, I have no problem with gluten. Except baking with it. After years working glutenfree, I find baking with wheat unpleasant. It has the weirdest properties! I have managed to unlearn everything I once knew and accepted as the norm.
What the heck am I doing. Am I the biggest hypocrite in the entire world? I’m still making peace with this. But I don’t think I am. I care so much about what I do.
This morning, I remembered that wonderful man who came and boarded up the windows in my shop on East 7th Street. We had been broken into for the millionth time, and I decided to build a fortress so we could safely do our work. While he worked, he asked if I could make his daughter a birthday cake. She had NEVER had one due to extreme allergies. Let me get this right, you give me peace of mind in my work space and I make a vegan/wheatfree cake. No problem. That was really where it all began.
Can you imagine how happy my new little friend was with her first birthday cake ever at the age of six. As I remember, I made a spelt banana cake, filled with apple butter and sliced bananas. I think it had tofu frosting too. Horrifies me now to think of this. But at the time (late 1980′s, as I recall) it was pretty rad.
That feeling really fired me up. Making that one cake felt more amazing than anything I had ever done. I started baking more and more wheatfree and vegan items and eventually became vegan.
Now everything I make is vegan and so am I. Nearly everything I make is glutenfree, although I don’t think I will ever be. I look at the challenges people with allergies and sensitivities have eating, and feel lucky that I have no problems with allergies.
I think my veganism gives me a unique insight into dietary challenges. It shouldn’t be that hard to find something good to eat. My evolution has certainly been fueled by the kinship I feel with other label readers. (Vegans are notorious label readers. You just never know what is hidden in your food.)
More than this, I find such satisfaction in making something that is divinely decadent for someone who thought they would never find anything like that again.
I can recount tales of friends with allergies and how I wrote recipes for them. My dearest friend has recently discovered a list of allergies that horrifies me to think of living with. Yet she does. And I bake for her!
So the simple truth is, I just feel good doing what I do. I never eat gluten in the bakery. I rarely bake with gluten containing flours and when i do, I do it on a separate day, with separate equipment, and do a massive clean up. As you can imagine, that makes it barely worth doing.
So my evolution continues. I will eventually ween all my wholesale accounts off the long time items they have been getting that are not glutenfree. And I will probably continue to eat gluten. Weird? Maybe. Me? Definitely.