Sunday, 7 January 2018

What a Beautiful Picture of your Dinner Party! Why am I not in it?




Something troubling has come to my attention and therefore, I must address it.

Let's offend people shall we? 

It has become apparent to me over the past few months that I have not been invited to events because of my Celiac Disease. 

It's true. 

At first, I disregarded this issue as sheer self involvement. I quieted my inner Trump-like baby voice by reminding myself that it isn't always about me, (and, for good measure, I reminded myself that climate change is a thing because...science). 

But quickly, the little voice of hmmm, that's strange, turned into, what the actual fuck? As I have noticed more and more facebook updates, instagram posts, and hearing stories of activities that I was not included in, that I am being excluded.  These are events and activities where friends have gotten together at restaurants, had dinners, and enjoyed time together. Friends that I would certainly invite if I had such an event.

I know what you are thinking, Laurie dear, is it possible that you are just an asshole and no one likes you? Indeed, this is certainly possible, because as we all know, I am an asshole and frankly, don't care if someone doesn't like me. However, might I point out that on other occasions, and over many years, I have spent quality time with these people and they often seek out my company when something isn't involved. That something is food. 

I've discovered through masterful levels of detective work, plying people with booze and threatening their lives, that I am not invited to these events because people often find it stressful and/or time consuming to serve me or find somewhere I can eat. 

This hit me like a truck. It was a shock and to be honest, I'm kind of hurt. No, I'm really hurt. However, I must look inward at what I have done to bring this on for myself. After self reflecting on my own bullshit, I have to examine that, through this blog and other conversations I have had with people, that I have given the impression that there are requirements for hosting me. This was my mistake and for that I apologize. 

The posts I have done on hosting Celiacs, cooking for Celiacs, and eating out with Celiacs, are for information purposes only. They are not demands! For fucks sakes, of COURSE I'm not making demands or insisting that the world cater to my bullshit disease, that would be incredibly selfish of me. However, reading back over my posts and thinking back over conversations, I can see how you could misinterpret my intentions. Please, please, I am begging you here, do not think that I insist upon you feeling put out, overwhelmed, (or even shittier) resentful, that you have to host me and therefore, avoid doing so to reroute any feelings of fear, or inadequacies. 

It makes me sad that people feel like this. 

As I've written before, I often think about my Grandma's now infamous line when she visited people and they immediately apologized for the state of their house, and/or calibre of  their meals/offerings. She would smile and say clearly, "If I came to see your house, dear, I would come when you weren't here." 

I remember Grandma Teresa saying this when I was young, too young to fully understand the impact of it. Now, as an all grown up Mom (who still doesn't understand what a pension is or how taxes work), I GET what she was trying to say. It was her way of politely saying, I came here to see you dumbass, not to judge you. YOU are the important thing, not your dust, your mess, your carpets, your food, your snacks...you. And really, that's the most validating, loving thing, you can say to another human being. It's not what you offer me that matters to me, I'm just happy to be with you. How beautiful is that thought?


And that's how I feel. I am always, just happy to be with you, not your food...you. I know this is hard for people to wrap their heads around because so much of our culture is centered around food. No one, and I mean no one, has an event without food. Shit, even the criminals on that 'Lock Up' show create meals for other inmates out of noodle bowls, tampons, and toilet water so they won't get shanked in the showers. Food is a major component to our society. We celebrate with food, converse with food, watch TV shows with food. For fucksakes, we even mourn with food. When someone dies, what do you do? You run to the kitchen and make a casserole, that's what you do! Even if you hated the dead person, you make the fucking casserole, because that's who we are as a society. 

I completely understand. I am a fully integrated member of the 'serve your guest' cult. I get all squirmy and itchy when people refuse any service item in my home. What? You want nothing? Not even a glass of water? REALLY? Nothing? It gives me the willies and I immediately start thinking that the person has been invaded by the body snatchers.

I completely understand your desire to provide me with food and drink and strippers and anything else that I want to feel at home. However, for Celiacs, it stops being about the food. It stops being about what's on the table and more about who's at the table. 

I get it, it's hard to feed me. 

So here is a crazy thought. 

Don't. 

Don't feed me, don't try, don't do it if it's going to cause you to wish I wasn't there. Don't do it if it means that you don't want to invite me. Please. 

This disease is rotten enough without feeling like I'm excluded. 

I know that there are places I can't eat at, invite me anyway. I know that there are times when you make a giant meal and would love to have my family but you don't want to go to the cost and the effort of making it Gluten free, invite us anyway. Please. Don't exclude me (or dear lord, exclude my children from enjoying a delightful, warm meal) because of my Celiacs. Just invite us. Tell me ahead of time that there will be Gluten in everything. I will bring my own food, I will eat the plain chips and the veggie tray and I will revel in the glory and joy of spending time with you.

So please, I beg of you, invite me to the restaurant I can't eat at, invite me to your dinner and gluten the shit out of it, invite me to everything because my Celiacs is MY problem, not yours. Let me be clear, I'm not pointing fingers or being passive aggressive. Don't apologize or make a big deal about it, just please start inviting me to anything you would like me to go to, and forget about feeding me. If you don't actually want me there? That's okay too, because sometimes I'm an asshole and not everyone is going to like me and I don't particularly give a shit. I am who I am and if you don't like me, that's not my problem, it's yours. Grandma taught me that too.

But if you want me there and my Celiac disease is holding you back? Please invite me anyway because I notice when you don't and it hurts my feelings.

Remember, I spend time with you because I love you, not for what you can offer me.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Saying Cheerio to Cheerios...



Every wonder why the Cheerios Kid pants are brown?


Ah Cheerios, the staple of a childhood breakfast. I have a love/hate relationship with these little Os. While I remember them clearly from my childhood, sitting with my sister on Saturday mornings, watching Bugs Bunny cartoons and jamming as many of these little nuggets of crunch in my face as possible, milk dripping down my chins to be wiped by my Strawberry Shortcake nightie. Fast forward twenty five years and I'm cursing the little bastards as I drag them, wet and sticky, from between the cracks of my toddler's car seat.

Since my diagnosis, (of Celiacs, not the other diagnosis, that psychologist/FBI Profiler had NO idea what they were talking about), one thing that I missed a lot was my favorite cereals. Since childhood, I rarely ate cereal at actual breakfast time. It was always an afternoon snack, or a drunk late-night meal where I still dripped milk down my chin and wiped it up with my Strawberry Shortcake nightie.

There are LOTS of Gluten Free cereals out there but they lack the sugary, crunchy, bad for you and in no way a part of a balanced breakfast, allure that traditional cereals hold. No one was more happy to see Gluten Free Rice Crispies than me. I did a very embarrassing, Balky Bartokomous style dance in Walmart. Or so my children say, I was drunk with joy, and a lot of vodka. Lots of common cereals have come up with Gluten Free versions of themselves and I appreciate it, I do. One has to wonder though, HOW Gluten Free are they?

The US Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency say that anything under 20 Parts Per Million of Gluten can be labeled 'Gluten Free'. Which is awesome. This is the level for which the smart doctory types have determined that we Celiacs can eat a food and not want to die afterwards. All these cereal companies have to adhere to these guidelines prior to labeling an item 'Gluten Free'. The Government has done a great job setting a standard and holding companies to it through testing.

Here is the problem that Cherrios is facing. Oats themselves are Gluten Free on their own. I could run through a field of oats and eat them like a deranged cow in heat. However, Oats aren't the only thing a farmer grows. Farmers rotate their crops in their fields and they often (usually) use the same equipment to harvest and process these crops for sale. Which of course they should, have you ever seen a combine? Those things are right out of a fucking Transformer Movie.

SOMEONE IS DRIVING THIS THING





So the oats (which are Gluten Free) are being harvested and processed on the same equipment as the wheat and the barley and the rye. So now the oats are cross contaminated and no longer gluten free. Then, the oats get to the cereal factory where they are made into the little Os on machinery that has just made other cereals that contain gluten, so now they are cross contaminated again.

COULD YOU IMAGINE TRYING TO CLEAN THIS THING?

This is why we can't have nice things. 

It's no ones fault, its just the way things are.



So, this is kind of how it went down. I always imagine this as a text...because I'm an odd woman.

GM : Don't worry, all traces of cross contamination are removed at the farm level.

CELIACS: Can you prove that?

GM: Trust us...

CELIACS: Well, it's kind of important that we know for sure. Can you prove that there is no cross contamination at the factory level?

GM: We tested. A whole bunch. We tested bigly, with lots of important testing stuff. It’s all very technical, you wouldn’t understand.

CELIACS: Try me.

GM: It would be a waste of time. You really wouldn’t understand.

CANADIAN FOOD INSPECTION AGENCY: We would understand.

GM: Oh...Hey CFIA, how's it goin? I didn't know this was a group text.

CIFA: Yup, we are here too and we would like to see your testing results and procedures please.

GM: Gotta go, my mom's calling and I have to do my chores.

GM has left the group

So do I think that GM was being cagey? No, I doubt it, I think they have a lot of shit on their plate (or in their bowl, so to speak...get it?) because they are kind of busy feeding millions of people and they have tried their best to feed the Celiacs but they really couldn't guarantee anything. In a recent article by CBC, General Mills has been requested to remove the Gluten Free label from their boxes in Canada. 

Now, have I tried the Gluten Free Cherrios? Your're damn right I did and they were delicious. However, they didn't sit right with me. I kinda felt like I had eaten at an all you can eat Chinese Buffet...that kind of feeling. Maybe it was because my body isn't used to having oats at all, or maybe it's because my cereal box was a 'hot spot', which is how it felt later in the bathroom, trust me. So I haven't been eating them and losing the Gluten Free label on Cheerios is not a big loss for me. 

There you go, a little science, a little PR and a little bit of diarrhea. I consider this post a win.




Friday, 21 July 2017

Get Angry, Get Mad....But I'm Right

No Food For You! Go Starve..




All right, all right, all right....here we go. This post is going to ruffle some feathers and we are all just going to have to ride this wave together okay? This issue has been stuck in my craw for a long while and although I've touched on it a bit in past posts and in public appearances, I feel like it's time to hit it head on. Brace yourself bitches, we are going in.

 Currently, I am sitting on my couch, with a glass of wine sitting coolly beside me, my belly is uber full of gluten free pizza (more on this later, this is a full circle post), I'm binge watching Shameless, and the spawn and my handsome partner in crime are up at the trailer and I have the house to myself. By all accounts, I should be as content as I can be.

Yet, I'm irritated and we have to talk about why. Why? Because it's my blog and my opinion, that's why.

Mature reading only here folks, not only have I had a glass of wine but as stated previously, I'm watching Shameless and the curses are going to flow like the River Nile.

It is a simple request, yet steeped in controversy and trouble.

IF A RESTAURANT IS GOING TO OFFER GLUTEN FREE FOOD, YOU NEED TO FUCKING OFFER ACTUAL GLUTEN FREE FOOD!

Simple right? And you'd think it is a no brainer, but, dear Gluten Eater, you are wrong.

This is what happened today.

I have a wicked awesome job where I get to work with some wicked awesome people and we have a wicked awesome boss. Our boss paid for all of us to attend a fantastic conference/info session from 8 to 5 today at a conference centre in Calgary's North East where we learned so much and loved it all. I got to take a nice long car ride with two work gals where we laughed and caught up. When we arrived at the hotel, the group decided to go to the The Toad and Turtle Pub for our upcoming lunch break. I secretly and immediately goggled said pub and discovered to my glee that they had a Gluten Free Menu (a rarity for a pub I assure you). When lunch came around we all jay walked (we were worried about the jaywalking, no shit) over and grabbed a table.

I requested a Gluten Free Menu and asked about Celiac awareness. The look on the server's face sent a chill through my bones. She'd look more confident if someone had just asked her to perform open heart surgery. After receiving the Gluten Free Menu, I asked the server again about cross contamination and if the cooks felt comfortable preparing my meal with a high level of care. Again, she looked both terrified and confused. This was going downhill fast and now I'm embarrassed and feel like a jerk. I don't like that I have Celiacs. It's the thing about myself that I struggle with the most, other than my penchant for running over loose cats (kidding, calm down Shelby) but I really dread every experience like this and it just got worse from there.

 Several minutes later, (please note that we only had an hour for lunch), a manager came to the table and informed me that since I had Celiacs Disease, she tells all Celiacs that, "another kitchen might be better for me." This is a direct quote.

Now, let me be clear here, I deeply appreciate her honestly. I really do and I told her so. I would much rather she turn me away rather than do a shitty job feeding me and make me sick while I had to sit at in a conference room far from home AKA sit in the bathroom vomiting and sobbing in pain.

However, I wonder, beyond all wonderings, WHY OH WHY, couldn't they make me food?

After this conversation, I stayed a few minutes to finish my pepsi and left shortly after to sit in the lobby of the hotel, hungry because I certainly wasn't gong to sit and watch every one else eat. No... can't do it. As much as I love and respect my work colleagues, I could not sit there and watch them eat their lunch.

 All Celiacs right now are yelling at their screen, "Laurie, you jackass, why didn't you bring food? We ALWAYS bring food, it's our thing, our gig, our secret to the universe. We bring food where ever we go. You KNOW this." And I say to you all, I DID have food bitches. I did. But I had a apple and some almonds and after sitting in a restaurant with the aroma of hot, fresh, delicious food wafting about, I can tell you, that apple looked about as appetizing as a piece of coal but I ate it, for sheer nourishment while my work friends sat at a cozy table digging into a satisfying lunch. I ended up liberating some peanut butter packs from the left over breakfast table and ate them with a coffee stir stick. True story, no shit, this is who I have become as a person.

So, I've been thinking back to that lunch all day and like most writers, once something gets in this chaotic mess I call a brain, I can't let it go.

So let's talk about the Gluten Free Menu shall we? 

Who the fuck do you have a Gluten Free Menu for if it isn't for people who can't eat Gluten? Who? Who?

What kind of evil game are you playing here? 

So, after years in the restaurant industry, and might I add, having the deepest respect for back of house, front of house and everyone in between, I want this shit broken down. Because everywhere I've worked at, could have made me something to eat and they would have given enough of a shit to make it happen.

So let's examine shall we?

Why couldn't the Toad and Turtle Barlow feed me today?

REASON NUMBER ONE: LAZINESS

 In order to feed someone Gluten Free Food you have to make absolutely sure that their food does not touch (by hand or by utensil or by pan) anything that contains gluten. I completely understand that this is a tall order. It means someone has to be pulled off the line to exclusively make my meal. They have to pull fresh ingredients from the cooler, they have to pull a fresh bowl, clean tongs, clean pan, new gloves, possibly a new apron if they have been dredging wings in flour. They have to pull my plate either fresh from dish or from the bottom of the plate pile to make sure it hasn't touched anything else. Yep....that sucks. I get it, please don't think I don't appreciate the effort kitchens take to feed me. This is evident in my previous posts. However, your job is customer service and, like it or not, I am a customer. Agreed, a pain in the ass one, but a customer all the same. It is done. All the time, at Moxies and Earls and countless other restaurants who have agreed that my dollar is just as valuable as the next guy. Remember too, that I tip excessively for the privilege of you making my meal safe. I tip servers a lot and I have walked back and handed a fistful of bills to the cook who made my food, and looked him in the eye and thanked him from the bottom of my heart, I am not a waste of time, I assure you.

And before you start....

 Please don't try to tell me that you were "too busy" to ensure the safety of my food. I did a quick count (and trust me, I can do a table/labor count) and you had 14 seated tables in the restaurant with 5 servers and two floor managers. That means that your kitchen should have had no less than 5 white coats on line (in addition to the two or three in the back on prep alone, because it's Friday and I know my shit) and because it was a Friday afternoon, I would bet my bottom dollar that your head chef was in the house if only to ensure a smooth Friday Happy Hour. So maybe SHE knew how to prepare my meal but everyone was too lazy to get her. Maybe she didn't know how to make a Gluten Free meal, thus we go to....

REASON NUMBER TWO: LACK OF TRAINING

Possible. Totally fucking ridiculous, but possible. The MOMENT you put a Gluten Free menu on your rack, you MUST TRAIN YOUR STAFF TO UNDERSTAND AND BE ABLE TO PREPARE A GLUTEN FREE MEAL.That means a meal that is FREE of GLUTEN. Plain and simple. Celiacs is a fucking disease and it's effects on it's sufferers is long and deep and to just sit back and say "well, we just don't know." is bullshit. Get educated. Get informed. Train your fucking staff so they know what to do and you don't have to send away paying customers. Do better. Be better. Rock that shit. Do not offer Gluten Free Food and then refuse to serve a Celiac. It's the most ironic, foolish thing I have ever heard. This is the equivalent of advertising a "Peanut Free Menu" but then stating, "Not for Peanut Allergies." What the actual fuck? What is the point? Spend the money, spend the time, take the initiative.

Let's be clear, this restaurant didn't just have random items on their menu that are Gluten Free by default. They had Gluten Free Buns and Gluten Free Breads and Gluten Free Pizza crusts. Now, I know the places in Calgary that make these items and I KNOW that they are Celiac friendly and I fucking KNOW that when you signed your contract with them, they advised you and trained you on how to prepare their breads without any cross contamination. THEIR PRODUCTS ARE MADE FOR CELIACS AND FOR YOU TO IGNORE THEIR WELL EDUCATED TEACHINGS ON HOW TO PREPARE THEIR PRODUCTS FOR CELIACS IS RIDICULOUS. For you to not continuously train your overturn staff on these policies is nothing more than laziness (see number 1).

REASON NUMBER THREE: THE GLUTEN FREE MENU ISN'T FOR CELIACS

 The Gluten Free Menu isn't for Celiacs, it's for people who are Gluten Sensitive or people that choose a Gluten Free Lifestyle. Oh lord, let's all take a breath here. To say that a Gluten Free Menu isn't for Celiacs is like saying the wheelchair ramp is only for people on crutches or people who don't like stairs. Why don't just have an "Onion Free" menu for people who don't like onions but then make it clear that you might still get onions? Let's have a menu for people who are avoiding red meat because their wife read a facebook article that said it was bad but THEN tell the customer that you aren't willing to take ANY extra time to make sure that a hunk of sirloin doesn't make it onto his plate. Oh wait, that would be fucking stupid. And here's a big fucking shocker to all of you....BRACE YOURSELF... people who are Gluten Sensitive, can't eat any more Gluten than a Celiac. They have been told by a medical doctor that they can not eat Gluten, so stop calling your menu's Gluten Sensitive and then not ensuring that it is indeed, Gluten Free. Stop it. Now.

The Toad and Turtle calls their menu Gluten Free. Which it isn't. Well, maybe the items themselves are but they aren't willing to take any extra time to prepare it so it remains Gluten Free until you eat it so tough shit on you people who can't eat Gluten. Our Gluten Free Menu isn't for you, as bizarre and stupid as that sounds. Go ahead and leave.

Again, this is not the managers' or the servers' or the cooks' fault. They work their asses off and they only do what they are told. Who knows, maybe the head chef told the manager to turn me away today, maybe. I will never know. The staff was not trained to serve someone who needs to eat Gluten Free food off their Gluten Free menu so I don't want them to come into any shit for this, seriously, don't do it. Just train them, step it up. Do better. Be better.

If you want to have a Gluten Free Menu, my God, I applaud you, I am grateful for you, just don't suck at it. 

That was the thorns, now for the roses. I, in general, avoid pubs and would not have wasted my time jaywalking to the Toad and Turtle unless they had advertised a Gluten Free menu. I would have taken a cab over to Earls and eaten there but by the time the 'Eat somewhere else' comment got made, there was no time for me to make an Earls meal happen, much to my regret.

My belly is full of Gluten Free Pizza because on our long arduous journey down Deerfoot Trail during rush hour, I called the only pub I eat at. The Bull and Finch in Bridlewood. They have lots of Gluten Free options but the best is the pizza. I told them on the phone that I had Celiacs, I ordered my pizza and swung by on my way home to grab it. Upon picking it up, I was assured by the bartender (who had a full house by the way), that it was totally Gluten Free and he was kind and fantastic. I have eaten at the Bull and Finch numerous times and have NEVER been burned, which is a feather in their finch, or in the Bull's cap. Do bulls wear caps? Maybe on fancy days like weddings or branding days, who knows. Stop getting off topic!

 The Bull and Finch GETS Celiacs, has Gluten Free Food and trains their staff on how to handle it. They had a full house when I picked up my food but had all the time in the world to make sure I knew that the food they advertised as gluten free, was indeed free of gluten. That's why they got my money today, and will continue to get my money for as long as they will take my pain in the ass order because they get it. They get that once you win a customer over, they are yours for life. They also get, that no one is louder and more obnoxious than a pissed off customer.

Take a lesson from the Bull and Finch, Toad and Turtle, do it right, or stay in your lane.


Respectful comments and emails welcome. Feel free to swear, but be assured, personally insulting me for my opinion makes you look like a small minded douche. Arguing with me is fine, however futile....because I'm right.

 Annnnnd go....

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Poisoned By Fate

No my dear! This apple is fine! No Gluten here! No poison!
 Eat it! Eat it! BITCH, EAT THE APPLE!



I was glutened last week. This may seem like a little thing to you gluten eaters. "Ohhhh okay, so you had a tummy ache Laurie, get over it." Not so much. It's hard to describe the illness that comes with a Celiac accidentally consuming gluten. It's a vicious, nasty, debilitating, emotional experience. It's a poisoning, plain and simple. I don't necessarily wish to relive the event but I think it's important for us to discuss how this all happened.

I have been using the Superstore Click and Collect service for several months and it has been a game changer. You pick all your groceries online and then drive to the store and pick it all up from a swanky parking spot. I freaking love it. It has opened up so much extra time for me, time that I have spent drunk on Pintrest, which I'm sure you agree is vital. In general, the service has been great and the people who work there have been amazing. 

We had an incident on Monday though and it was a result of a "Butterfly Effect" type of situation. The Butterfly Effect is a weird movie from 2004 that you think you understand and then you realize that you are stupid. Basically, the theory is that one little thing (the flapping of a butterfly wing) can set off a chain reaction that eventually leads to catastrophe (a hurricane) on the other side of the world. Anyone who has been in a car accident has thought about this theory. If you had left 3 seconds earlier, if you hadn't liked the song on the radio and wasn't singing at the top of your lungs, and further, if the DJ had not been feeling nostalgic that day and not chosen that particular song, if the other driver had remembered to bring a snack for her kids and then they wouldn't have been screaming in the backseat causing her to be distracted. If ANY these things had happened differently, you wouldn't have collided with that woman's minivan on the way home from work. 

This glutenizing was kind of like that. I had ordered the gluten free version of the Club House Brown Gravy, which is awesome by the way, and instead, received the  NON gluten free version. I made the gravy, ate the gravy and within moments, knew something was wrong. We checked the package and low and behold, not gluten free. FUCK!

So, there was this little window of time I had during which we planned out the next twenty four hours while I was still able to function. Since the spawn are on summer vacation, plans needed to be cancelled, the sheets on the bed were changed because I would now spend all my time there, the dishes were done quickly so husband could focus on me and nothing else for the next seven hours. Heating pads were charged up for the cramps, cold cloths prepared for the splitting headache and the bathroom deemed off limits for the vomiting and ...well...you know. God Bless my husband and our spawn for their extreme support and dedication to me during times like this. I don't like being sick, I get really cranky and weepy and they handle it all with ease and care.

And during all this flurry of activity, I went through my own little butterfly effect list. What if the worker doing the shopping had paid closer attention and why didn't they? Had she just stubbed her toe so she was thinking of the agonizing pain rather than reading the label? And before that, what if the guy who stocked the shelves hadn't been lazy, leaving that box in the middle of the floor so she stubbed her toe? What if I hadn't been on the phone when I went to pick up the order and had noticed when we were loading the groceries into the trunk? What if I had made that phone call later in the day or that when I called, the person had decided to take their dog for a walk and didn't answer? What if I hadn't been chatting with hubby while making dinner and I happened to notice the label? What if he had left work 20 min later so he wasn't home while I was making the gravy and didn't distract me with his charm and good looks? 

What if?

Ultimately though, there is no point going through the Butterfly Effect because you can only suck it up. Suck it up hard bitches.

I was sick sick sick for a full 24 hours and then feeling like a hung over bag of shit for two days after that. I try to take a lesson from every glutenizing, and  the lesson here is:

A) Having Celiacs fucking sucks
B) Don't trust anyone else to read a label that you should read yourself because they might have just stubbed their toe
C) Read every label, every time.
D) Sometimes fate is not in your favor and that has to be okay

We wrote a letter to Click and Collect and I was shocked to receive a phone call from the store manager Cheryl. She was completely apologetic and really kind about the whole thing. I honestly half expected some sort of, "we can't guarantee...blah blah" bullshit but she took full responsibility for the whole thing. She made it clear that she had dealt with the employee directly and had given retraining on the issue. She even took it a step further and has contacted the Club House company to talk about how similar the two packages look and how hard it might be for anyone to tell them apart when shopping.

Gluten Version
Gluten Free Version

Look at these two packages! Seriously, they couldn't make them more alike if they tried!


Cheryl even discussed the placement of the boxes on the shelves with her team and has moved them around to make it easier to tell them apart. I was blow away and am now a dedicated customer.

So bottom line, poisonings happen bitches...whether it's your fault or another person's fault or the Butterfly Effect of fate at play but it's just a part of having this disease.

 It's hard to suck it up but tough shit Celiac....suck it up.


PS A HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR FRIENDS KARIN AND GLENN FOR TAKING MY CHILDREN FOR THE ENTIRE NEXT DAY SO I COULD SLEEP AND FEEL SORRY FOR MYSELF IN PRIVATE. BLESS YOUR HEARTS.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Restaurants Are Terrifying Unless You Have A Tracy!

A Celiac at a restaurant. She knows she is going to die. 

Let me tell you something, come in close now, real close. You listening? Good. EATING AT A RESTAURANT AS A CELIAC IS TERRIFYING. I'm not being dramatic or extreme here...it's fucking terrifying. Alfred Hitchcock level of scary. I know Celiacs that never eat out...ever. It's THAT scary.

You have to put so much trust in so many people. People you don't know, nor particularly like, and you just have to pray. Pray and wish and hope and dream like a Disney Princess waiting for a prince or an education.

You have to trust the waitress and hope they were trained properly, can read, aren't hung over and don't have too many tables so they have the time to listen to your lengthily order and that they aren't fighting with the kitchen so they will tell them about your Celiacs. You have to trust the chefs, that they have heard of Celiacs, and know what in their kitchen contains gluten. You have to trust their trainer who months or years ago taught them what they needed to know about cross contamination and pray that on that day, everyone had their thinking caps on. You have to trust that the hostess controlled the flow of guests and didn't seat twenty tables all at once causing the kitchen to crash and burn in a blinding wall of tickets, leading them to not be able to see, or have time to prepare, your Gluten Free meal. You have to trust the manager, that they treat their staff well, and encourage them to take their time with special orders and double check all meals for quality and accuracy. You have to trust the owners, to adhere to the guidelines and spend the money training everyone about Celiacs. They also have to make sure that the products on their GF mcnu, are indeed Gluten Free and that their suppliers notify them of content changes.

That...is a LOT of trust.

Every once in a while though, I find a gem of a restaurant who gets it. Really, really gets it and it's the most satisfying thing you could imagine. Eating out is such a simple thing for the rest of the world and it's so rare for a Celiac to feel that simplicity.

I got to get that feeling when I visited the Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre for the Gluten Free  Festival put on by the Edmonton Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association. I was invited to be a speaker and I personally, was just excited to get a night away from the spawn and attend the festival. The restaurant was just a massive bonus. The Chateau Louis is this charming hotel close to the Edmonton downtown core. The rooms were clean and the bed was super comfy. After registering and scoping out the vendor fair at the Chateau Louis Convention Centre, we walked back along a covered flowered walkway to the dining room.

I was a little nervous to see that the dining room had a Pasta Buffet that night which for a Celiac is the worst thing ever. However, a lovely server came up to let me know that about eighty percent of  the buffet was Celiac friendly. Not just vaguely 'gluten aware' we are talking CELIAC FRIENDLY. That means all the ingredients have been checked, that they have exclusive equipment and are careful with every little step of the food preparation process. This was big news people.

So once we get seated, I decided to order off the menu because there was some seriously awesome stuff on there, even though the buffet looked amazing too. The lovely server's name was Tracy and she wasn't just lovely, she was fantastic. Tracy wasn't just happy and charming, she was super smart and knew everything a server needs to know about Celiacs and eating gluten free. She made great recommendations, she made sure the chefs knew about my meal and made sure I knew that my meal would take a little bit longer because it was being made from scratch. From scratch! She even added, "I hope that's okay."

Uhhhhhh yeah... that's okay. That's awesome! That's amazing! That's the best thing I have heard all day!

I had the mushroom soup and the Shrimp and Scallop Rizotto. It was one of the best meals I have ever had. I was in Celiac heaven.

We couldn't stay after the conference because we can only unload the spawn off on friends for so long because they are kind of annoying, but I totally wish we had! Turns out, the Chateau Louis has a completely Gluten Free Prime Rib Buffet on Saturday nights! Wow! I was so sad to miss it but might just make a plan to go back to Edmonton JUST to eat there.

Thank you Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre for a wonderful stay. Thank you Tracy for being so smart and charming. Thank you Chefs for taking the time I know you don't have to feed us Celiacs.

Thank you to the Canadian Celiac Association Edmonton Chapter for inviting me to speak at the Gluten Free Festival. I had an amazing time.

Make sure you make the Chateau Louis a stop when you visit Edmonton, you will be as gleefully happy as I was.

Here is a few clips of my talk where I delve into the horror that is, restaurants for Celiacs.



Sunday, 11 June 2017

Laughter and Love at the Edmonton Gluten Free Festival


I have no idea what I am saying here, but I guarantee that it was more funny than informative

WOW! I am still reeling from the fantastic weekend I just had. I had the privilege of attending the Canadian Celiac Association's Gluten Free Festival put on by their Edmonton Chapter. For those of you who are not from Alberta, you need to know something. Calgary and Edmonton have not always gotten along.We are technically sister cities and like sisters, we bicker, are often jealous and constantly vie for attention from our parents (two yuppy hippy types on the other side of the country named Trudeau). Calgary thinks that Edmonton is all hoity-toity because they are the Capital of our province. Edmonton feels that Calgary is all hoity-toity because they have the Stampede. And then there's the hockey thing. UGH the hockey thing! The battle never ends. For years, the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers have battled for top spot in the NHL and as you can imagine, we take hockey seriously....very seriously.

But of course, I jumped at the chance to speak and be the comic relief at the festival. To be honest, my heart stopped a little when I saw my name listed among the other speakers. There were Doctors and experts and then little old me with a bio that described me as a 'below average wife to the most patient man in the world'. The contrast was equally concerning and entertaining. At the end of the jam packed day though, I had learned a lot, made some new friends, and got to ramble like a drunk asshole into a mic for forty five minutes and make people laugh (except for the man in the red shirt who just sat there with his arms crossed, lip tight and scowling the whole time - I know you were laughing on the inside pal....I know it). I also got to eat like a Gluten Free Queen.

As the president of the Canadian Celiac Association, Anne Wagget stated, for us Celiacs, it's all about the food. Ohhhhh the food. I was giddy about the food. First of all, it was on a buffet, which normally makes us Celiacs pop Atavan like Pez to ease our anxiety. But this time, we could eat everything. EVERYTHING. For those of you who get to eat a buffets all the time, number one, you're an asshole for showing off, second, know that Celiacs don't like to touch buffets for a lot of reasons.

 First, it's rare to see the ingredients listed on a buffet, making anything with a sauce or a spice, or cooked for that matter, off limits. Second, even if there is something that you are fairly sure you can have, the possibility of some jerkoff who was ahead of you in line swapping out the tongs is huge. Seriously gluten eaters, just use the spoon provided for that item. If someone else is using it, just fucking wait for the serving utensil. If you can't wait seventeen seconds to put a damn tater tot on your plate causing you to grab at the fruit tongs and subsequently cross contaminate all the fruit so I can't eat it, you have big problems my dear, big problems. Stop screwing with the system and use the tongs provided you lazy ass.

But at the Gluten Free Festival, we could eat the entire thing. There was no fear of cross contamination, or improper handling of our food, we could just, relax and eat. For breakfast there was sausage, bacon, fruit, eggs, pancakes and toast. TOAST! Fucking TOAST! I almost lost my mind. I looked at my husband and said "I am eating toast from a buffet table." I'm not ashamed to admit that my voice cracked with emotion as I said it. I was amazed at how calm we all were about the whole thing. Everyone showed massive restraint. I was half expecting someone to just jump up on the table and go savage on that tray of toast. I can just picture some lady (okay, it's me), squatting on the table like a gorilla, fisting handfuls of toast into her mouth, chunks of Kinnikinnick bread flying around and crumbs stuck in her mascara. Lunch was sandwiches (SANDWICHES!) and salad. There was no worries about the dressing or the mayo or the deli meat. The relief of this, to me, was palpable.

On breaks, we could peruse the vendor fair which was an amazing display of awesomeness.

There was:
Arbonne                                                         NuPasta                                           Stellas
Blue Kettle Specialty Foods                          Only Oats                                        U of A Research
Celebrate Gluten Free                                    PastyPie
Dr. Schar                                                        Rio Vida Bakery
Epicure                                                           Screamin' Brothers
Hair of Rachel                                                Simply Delish Soup and Salad
Heart to Home Meals                                     Snyder's of Hanover
Monat Global                                                 Sobeys

AND OF COURSE....EDMONTON'S OWN KINNIKINNICK

As far as friends go, hanging around with a big bunch of Celiacs was some kind of wonderful. We had conversations that would make regular people cringe. Within moments of meeting someone, we were talking about common symptoms, including terms like 'loose stools'. It was kind of fantastic, not to you, gluten eater, but to a Celiac who often doesn't hang out with other Celiacs, this was wicked fun. There were so many inside jokes, and common stories, I was in Celiac heaven.

When it was my turn to talk, I wasn't even nervous because suddenly, I was just talking to a bunch of friends about the one thing we all share. They laughed a lot at my stuff, (red shirt guy) which was nice of them, and we all had a great day. I was filled with warm fuzzies and glowing happiness. After I was done, the co-chair of the event, Don Briggs came up and presented me with a thank you card. In true Alberta form, and to remind me that sisters only get along in short bursts, Don tucked an Edmonton Oilers key chain in my card. Funny shit. Fuuuuunnnny shit. Celiacs crack me up.

Note to Calgarians, I WILL be using this key-chain and will NOT be putting up with any sass


I'll be posting again shortly about all the amazing factoid stuff I learned and I'll be talking about the hotel and their amazingness. In the meantime, here is couple of little clips of my talk. If you want to see more, you can go to the next Canadian Celiac Association Conference and hopefully, I will be asked to speak again! That, or they will block my email and pretend they never met me.

With Laurie Lyons, honestly, it could go either way.










Saturday, 27 May 2017

ONLY TWO WEEKS UNTIL THE EDMONTON GLUTEN FREE FESTIVAL

I will be there doing a nice long rant about my misadventures with Celiac Disease. Get your tickets now!