This I Believe

Rachel - Los Altos Hills, California
Entered on October 2, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: pleasure

I believe in making gluten free toast when life gives me gluten free bread. As breakfast, lunch, dinner. As a study snack, packing material, or glorified cardboard; I believe that gluten free toast is a versatile substance, though its edibility remains debatable.

I believe in gluten free breakfast cereal and dairy free rice milk, foods that share the same versatility as gluten free toast. While my celiac disease may limit my diet, it certainly furnishes the materials I need for any diorama or minor construction project in my way.

I didn’t always believe in the dubious blessings of gluten free food; I was once a staunch follower of the all or nothing doctrine—if I can’t eat it in its natural gluten filled state, it’s not worth eating at all. Substitution cake? Who needs it. Steak and potatoes work fine for me. Only recently have I been considering the advantages of adapting to my situation.

This wasn’t a sudden epiphany, but a gradual shift in ideology. As my diagnosis moved farther and farther into the past and I realized the permanence of my dietary identity, I started feeling more comfortable with it. I began to expand my horizons—stretching first into the realm of gluten free chocolate.

That tentative first step escalated, bringing me farther and farther into the world of substitution foods. And while I eventually graduated to eating gluten free noodles, I always baulked at the idea of gluten free bread. It simply could not be done—neither its creation nor consumption was possible.

It was an accident that I actually ever tried gluten free bread. A lunch pail mix up between my brother and myself left me stranded with nothing but a sandwich constructed from the very thing I would have nothing to do with—gluten free toast. Starving and with no other recourse but to eat the sandwich, I took a bite. And another. And perhaps it was the sheer force of my hunger, but the bread was not altogether inedible.

Since then, I have switched camps and become a believer—a believer in gluten free food. I believe that most is remarkably decent, and all are equally versatile. More, I believe in sharing the secrets known only among the initiated; that quinoa breakfast cereal is an uncanny likeness of the La Brea Tar pits and that dairy free rice milk is the ideal unidentifiable white liquid for chemistry lab control. And above all else, I believe in gluten free toast; in its structural integrity and insulating properties, in sandwich form and just with jam, but most of all as a symbol my adaptation to one of the less convenient facets of my identity.