Being a celiac means considering things that others don’t have to. It doesn’t mean living in fear, but it certainly means living in a state of heightened awareness. Take this fellow celiac’s dilemma:
I have to admit this isn’t how I planned my first email to you to go. You see you got me through some pretty tough times, and although I’d love to go into them and how you and the community have really supported me and given me strength to remain a chef and move ( a lot!) I have a question that can’t wait.
I live in the beautiful Mediterranean city of Marseille, France where every year the square where I live is filled with thousands of people, dancers, jugglers, children’s choirs, all for ‘carnaval.’ I only moved here six months ago so this will be my first. And yes it’s true France is one of the worst countries in Europe for coeliacs (I would say the worst but I don’t get around that much and I’m pretty biased.)
I run the kitchen in an arts cafe on the square and as we speak we’re building a giant sardine effigy to be burnt on Sunday (I know … don’t ask me why it’s a thing here …) Basically everyone is mad excited. The only issue: every single person carries a bag of flour, kids, grandpas and clowns included. The whole square is engulfed in flour (or at least that’s what I’ve been told).
I’ve been thinking of buying a HAZMAT suit (seriously) but somehow I just don’t think that’s going to cut it. I’ve been looking into masks and overalls but I won’t even be able to take off my mask to have a drink/ chat to mates. It’s a tricky decision to make because I feel like no one here really ‘believes’ in coeliac disease – as if it’s like the fairies! (sorry fairies). I don’t eat out at all here and my diet’s Whole30 every 30 so my colleagues and friends haven’t seen me sick.
Look, I get it, we don’t get to do some stuff. I’d love to go grape harvesting and take time off work in September but we all know ‘bed and board’ provided just ain’t going to include cross-contamination awareness here in France. Oy being a coeliac twenty-something is tricky.
Should I stay or should I go now? (GD note: Nice shout out to the Clash.)
Also dude, seriously, can’t thank you enough.
Dang…that’s a new one. I looked it up and yes, it seems that “flour fighting” is indeed part of the Carnaval. Perhaps this will be limited to a small section? Yeah…wishful thinking. Flour in the streets means flour in the air, which means flour in your system. If the streets really are engulfed in flour, hate to say it, but you gotta skip it.
And while I think you’d stand out nicely in a haz-mat suit, I can’t see it being very convenient. Or comfortable. Or fun. But it would make for some interesting conversation.
Sit this one out. And maybe next year you can convince them to use gluten-free flour?!