What we have here is 31 days of food blogging or photo-blogging. Some of it good, some of it decent, and some of it just plain lame. C'est la vie.
Well, to finish off NaBloPoMo's July Food Blogging Challenge, I shall talk about the last 36 hours worth of gluten filled hell.
So, I have been blogging here about having Celiac's Disease and having to eat gluten-free. But what I have not blogged about is how one can't always eat at home in a perfectly controlled situation to keep from getting sick from cross-contamination or gluten hiding in food it has no business being in.
Since I was first diagnosed in the early-1990s as being wheat & gluten intolerant, I have tried to make sure that the bulk of my eating out involves "Riceatarian" food - Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican. Each of these cuisines' builds their starch repertoire on rice or other non-gluten grains (like corn/maize). C'est la top.
I test out as moderate in the range of my inability to deal with gluten on the official celiac's tests, but I also always test out as allergic to wheat as well. A double whammy. If I eat something with wheat or rye or spelt or barley, even if a bit of it (ie: thickened soup, such as clam chowder), my neck, intestines, head, and hives let me know all about it. They say, "WTF!!!! What were you thinking!?!?!??!"
Generally, if I by accident get a bit of wheat or gluten in my food when eating out, I will immediately flush, my neck and shoulder muscles will lock up, and my intestines will make an announcement that they are not pleased. The next day, I will feel like I have the flu, with fatigue, sore throat, a headache, aching muscles, intestinal bloating, cramping and either constipation or diarrhea. Sometimes the intestinal bit can go on for a couple of days. All over less than a teaspoon of wheat in a soup or sauce or... or ... or...
I am not a severe reactor, like some who can't have food that is prepared on a cutting board that once had wheat on it or eat something that was processed in the same facility as a gluten-full item. Generally, I can eat gluten-free foods that were prepared in the same space as gluten-full foods as along as the prep area was washed in between.
In the US items with wheat starch as an ingredient are not considered gluten-free, but in Europe under EU regulation, wheat starch can be used in gluten-free items as it is 'technically' gluten-free (or free of the gluten protein). When I lived in Ireland, I quickly found that I could not eat any of the items that contained wheat starch due to my wheat allergy that I have on top of my celiac's.
Since the mid-1990s, going to a dim sum lunch at a Chinese restaurant has been a fairly safe experience for me, as I have researched what I can and can't eat. The problem comes when an Asian restaurant cuts a corner by using wheat flour rather than rice flour or uses wheat flour to thicken a sauce rather than corn or rice or tapioca starch.
Yesterday, one of my fave LA area dim sum places, the Empress Pavilion, in Chinatown struck out for the 3rd time in the course of the last year. Most of my dim sum experiences at the Empress Pavilion have been positive, but three times in the last year, the food has been mediocre to not very good at all. And all three times, I have felt sick later.
Why do I keep going back? Well, most the time the food is spot on and I have no reactions. Yesterday's lunch was not one of those times. Hadashi and I arrived a bit late for lunch, there were only 4 carts in circulation with a fairly poor selection. We ended up in the confusion of piled up carts and needing food getting the beef dumplings.
Now beef dumplings are almost always suspect. Bizarre at best, just plain yucky at worst. But there was no har gow (shrimp dumplings) to be had and the only shrimp dumplings available were with shark fin, which I won't eat. So, I filled up on turnip cakes and steamed rice wrapped in banana leaf.
At the end of the meal, I broke down and had a 2nd beef dumpling. I opened it up and looked at it before eating it, it was stewed beef, celery, water chestnut and some other vegetables with suspicious white paste all over them. Ding ding ding. Dang.
The misery started about 2 hours after leaving the Empress Pavilion and lasted until late this afternoon with me camping out near the restroom most of the day today (TMI, sorry, but that is the truth).
During today's reaction, I used my time to re-research dim sum recipes, and it was confirmed that the dumplings I order should use tapoica starch or rice flour or on occasion wheat starch, but all the recipes state that wheat flour should never be used (too heavy for light dumplings).
As I can reconstruct the meal, either the Empress Pavilion's kitchen used wheat flour to thicken the beef dumpling's stuffing or used wheat flour rather than rice flour & tapioca in the turnip cake.
Regardless, third strike and the Empress is out.