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


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.

1 comment: