If you’re not familiar with the Austin food scene, menus here sound a tad pretentious. For example, how about a small plate of jerked pork belly, cheddar rice cake, and strawberry? Or would you prefer a warm sweet potato soup with ginger, pickled shrimp, puffed sorghum, and paprika oil? Sometimes the food reads more like a chemistry experiment than an actual meal. I do like eating out here though. I am almost always surprised.
Along with the crazy foods are all manner of labels. People are vegan or merely dairy free or gluten free. When my parents come to visit from their small Midwestern city, they ask about all of the symbols and asterisks on the menus, and I am reminded of how obsessive this city must seem. We don’t just eat here. We investigate every aspect of food. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and other times I think of people starving during the Great Depression and wonder how we got here.
Our little family isn’t into trends. We eat most of our meals at home and eat mostly vegetarian, with occasional fish and chicken. We believe in moderation, except when it comes to pancakes.
I was thinking about food last week when I took Eleanor for her annual checkup because the nurse asked how many servings of fruits, veggies, grain, and protein our kids eat each day. I don’t think about food in terms of servings, so I struggled to come up with the numbers. Eleanor likes few fruits, so her diet is mostly veggies and grains. I felt a bit self-conscious saying that my kid eats a lot of carbs because I know everyone thinks carbs are the enemy nowadays.
The doctor came in, and we both fretted over Eleanor’s slow growth. He decided to run some tests. A few days later, he called. You guys, carbs are the enemy! Celiac disease. For the past seven years, I have been poisoning my kid with every stack of pancakes and every plate of spaghetti to the point that she is barely growing. Feeling really competent!
So now we are an egg-free, gluten-free family, which seems acceptable in Austin and totally pretentious almost anyplace else (Except Portland, right?). This leaves us basically only one food to eat for breakfast: bacon. No, actually I’ve already attempted a batch of oat flour and banana pancakes, which were passable. I am torn between loathing all of the people who invent special diets for themselves because that makes people take my children’s real allergies less seriously and loving those same people because they are the reason I can buy a bag of gluten-free flour at my normal grocery store.
I know that scientists are working on the food allergy thing, and I’m hoping for a solution someday, if not for my kids, then for potential grandkids. For now, I’m giving up the pillowy French bread and lofty golden cakes. That is true love.