28 November | BY Andjelka Jankovic | City Guides , Travel
I'll be dreamin' of the next time we can go into another seratonin overflow
I’m the sort of diner chefs don’t like. Waitstaff consider me a nuisance, and friends flash apologetic eyes while I decipher menu acronyms at Da Vinci Code speed.
I’ve been called a lot of things: nightmare dinner guest, self-diagnosed poser, fake allergy sufferer, fad follower and a food snob. But my favourite one is ‘glutard’ [noun: gloo-tard] meaning someone who has an immune reaction to gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye), and will never be able to taste the latest dessert craze. From here on in, let’s call us the GFF (gluten free friend).
As a GFF and food lover with delicate intestines, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard the sentences: “One piece of bread won’t hurt” and “Can’t you just eat around the crust?”. Being ‘sometimes’ gluten-intolerant is like ‘kind of’ being pregnant — you either are or you aren’t.Sure, I
Sure, I could eat a bagel and life would go on, kind of. You see it’s a bit like drinking a glass of olive oil then spinning around 10 times. Why would you do that to yourself, you ask? That’s probably the best way I can describe why that slice of pizza is probably not worth it for your GFF.
The rise of ‘gluten free’ diners in the past several years have helped with the legitimacy of coeliac disease sufferers, for who eating gluten is life or death. But we all know that gluten-sensitive person (your sometimes GFF) who still munches on bread “even though it hurts afterwards” in the same way that your lactose intolerant friend is an occasional gelato fiend. But for the ‘real’ GFFs, avoiding gluten is not a lifestyle statement — it’s a wellbeing choice.
Of course there are times when I would prefer the freshly baked pita or a choux pastry to pity. And who doesn’t love a warm cinnamon doughnut or handmade pillowy naan? But then I remind myself that gluten is Latin for ‘glue’, and that is literally what it does to my insides.
How can restaurants make life easier for a GFF?
- Be open to requests from legitimate allergy sufferers
- Correctly label menus with acronyms
- Point out gluten-containing items on share plates
- Tell us if the deep fryer is a free-for-all flour party (gluten contamination)
- Honesty and understanding are always appreciated
How can a GFF make like easier for restaurants?
- Research the menu beforehand to avoid food disappointment
- Give wait staff a heads up if you’re a coeliac
- Accept if a chef doesn’t allow changes to a dish
- Don’t be demanding or entitled
- Bring your own gluten-free bread (ultimate GFF pro-tip)
- Order a bunch of sides and create your own main meal
- If all else fails, make it rain with sweet potato fries
Freaking out about where to take your GFF? We can actually freely eat a lot of cuisines (Mexican, Vietnamese and Indian), while some cuisines require minimal probing (Japanese, Latin American, Thai), and others (French, Creole, German) are usually out of bounds. When a restaurant is insincere or uncaring about a dietary request, GFFs notice and likely won’t return.
If you’re wondering if I miss gluten, the answer is no. If you’re wondering if I miss the gratifying chewiness of sourdough bread, the umami hit of a yum cha dumpling, and the textural euphoria of a profiterole, then the answer is yes.
Ultimately, being the GFF is a blessing. It is liberating to learn more about yourself, it has opened up a world of self-discovery, and I get really excited about cooking and food experimentation. Being the GFF means there are less processed foods in your diet, you become more of an intuitive eater, and you have a heightened enjoyment of eating because for once – food doesn’t hurt you. The best part? When your BFF, GF or BF willingly orders the GFF dish because they genuinely like it.
Life is a series of everyday choices, and food is one of the last great freedoms. We intolerants appreciate gastronomy as much as any food lover, and your accommodating efforts as a friend to a GFF does not go unnoticed.
Digestive wellness is an everyday challenge for a GFF, but also a lifelong achievement for everyone. It certainly takes guts to listen to your gut, so next time you have a meal with your GFF – call them by a new acronym with more bravo than burden.
The most GFF-ly places to eat in Perth
Flora & Fauna | 70 Aberdeen Street, Northbridge | Quirky chic vegan cafe
Honest Goods Co. | Various stores and farmers market | Artisan paleo bread
The Little Shop of Plenty | 217 Railway Road, Maylands | Allergy-friendly food haven
The Raw Kitchen |, 181 High Street, Fremantle | Trailblazing whole foods in a warehouse
NOOD Café | 114 Oxford Street, Leederville |Health-conscious food on the go
Bib & Tucker | 18 Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle | Oceanside WA foodie destination
Genesis In The Hills | 122 Croyden Road, Roleystone | Organic vegetarian treetop dining
Angel Falls Grill | Shafto Lane, Perth | Venezuelan arepas hot spot
Injera House | 43 Yirrigan Drive, Mirrabooka | Colourful Ethopian food with GF injera (call ahead)
Jujuberry + Co | 135 Scarborough Beach Road, Mount Hawthorn | Go-to neighbourhood eatery
El Publico | 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate | Trendy Mexican fare
The Standard | 28 Roe Street, Northbridge | Hip inner city staple with plant-covered
A Fish Called Inglewood | 882 Beaufort Street, Inglewood | Ethically-sourced fish and chips star
Nature’s Harvest | 20 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe | Ayurveda-inspired eats and health food shop
Manna Wholefoods | 274 South Terrace, South Fremantle | Holistic health store and wellness cafe
Stimulatte | 361 Hay Street, Subiaco | Artisan gluten-free creations with flair
Annalakshmi | Barrack Street Jetty, Perth | Pay-what-you-feel Indian vegetarian institution
Source Foods | 289 Beaufort Street, Highgate | Four words: tamarind root vegetable salad