Summer welcomes many things … sunshine, lazy schedules, family vacations. This past week, however, presented two summer-time events that can strike fear into any gluten-free heart … power outages and weddings.
The surprise storms of last Sunday hit hard in some of the western suburbs. Transformers exploded, trees cracked and collapsed, power lines snapped. And at approximately 1:00 p.m. in our home, the power went out. No worries … it usually goes back on in a couple of hours. But we waited. And waited. And as we realized that it was going to be days, reality hit. My piecrusts! My cheesy rolls! My bread! My Sweet Ali’s stash!
The freezer is a refuge, a safe haven if you will, for the gluten-free. When frozen fresh on the day it was made, gluten-free baked goods thaw beautifully and retain their delicious fresh-baked taste. But a days-long thaw with no way to bake a delicious pie or a batch of cheesy rolls. Such sadness. Obviously, we all know where to go to restock (thank you, Ali!), but the crushing blow is knowing that what was once plentiful must now be replenished. Living without can be an overwhelming challenge. And managing your gluten-free needs publicly can be even more so.
Weddings are wonderful occasions filled with families and ceremony. Guests are there to celebrate the couple and to dine with friends and family. Uh oh. How to be the gluten-free guest that celebrates safely? Buffets can be questionable, and dinners can be challenging if you are only one gluten-free guest among hundreds of others. Happily, I have found that even the largest wedding can rally for the smallest request. A simple smile and whisper to a server, a request to check with the kitchen, and a thank you when the gluten-free plate is presented. Yes, I missed the pineapple glaze on my grouper, but I was safe and happy to continue the celebration.
Without power, without choices, we all manage to do our best. We pack bags of ice into our freezers. We have family campouts in the basement. We privately and politely ask for a gluten-free alternative. We live within the moment and make the best of it. Electricity is restored, and servers can be asked. It’s all how we handle our challenges and how we celebrate the little moments — a Sweet Ali’s-stocked freezer, air conditioning, a bowl of berries instead of wedding cake — that make our summer not living without, but living within.