Friday, August 21, 2009

Unexpected Surprises

I had such an unexpectedly good week.

Last weekend, I released my first blog out into the world, and still cannot believe all the warm welcomes and words of encouragement I received from complete strangers. Thank you all so much - you have no idea how much that means to me, especially coming from the gluten-free community... Oh my, what big hearts you all have!

Truth be told, I expected this week to kinda suck.

Now that I am feeling better, it's time to get back to work with a new job and start putting a dent in all these lovely medical bills (don't even get me started about how inept insurance companies are). Being an actor, of course “a new job” means “a new restaurant gig” (such a cliche I know)...

I was at least able to find a job with a restaurant that is GREAT about food restrictions, especially gluten. There are 12 people in my training group (out of 175 that applied…how crazy is that?) Anyway, part of the training process is sampling every item on the menu. Everyday the chef comes in with a number of dishes to try, and on the first day I sat there full of dread. “Here we go...”, I thought, “time to embrace the freak.”

Naturally, there were lots of questions about my diet from my new comrades, all of which I was happy to answer - but there always seems to be that first moment where everyone in the room stops, and suddenly all eyes are on you. I am not a fan of that moment.

The incredible thing was that by Day 3, this group of former strangers totally had my back. They would ask the chef if something was gluten-free before I could. They would dig around and make sure there were no stray croutons in the salads before I tried them. When something we thought might be gluten-free turned out to have hidden sources of gluten, I swear they looked more bummed about it than me. And then, when there was a gluten-free dish to try, they made sure I got the first serving.

There are no words for how touched I was by their kindness.

After a long week, I had the incredible good fortune to spend Saturday with one of my most favorite people in the world, my friend Micah. We went to the movie “Julie & Julia”, which I've been dying to see - I’ll spare you my boring review - followed by an incredibly happy Happy Hour at BoHo in Hollywood.

I hadn't seen Micah since before I got sick, so there was a lot of catching up to do. Like most people, he had never heard of celiac disease. After explaining what it was, he grabbed the menu and led the way in helping me navigate the gluten- free options. But, the first matter of business.... DRINKS!

Let me tell you, there is a new sheriff in town, and his name is St. Germain - yum, yum and frickin' yum! It’s an Elderflower liqueur that rocked my little world. It was mixed with vodka and fresh apple juice - I am drooling just thinking about it. But you know what I really wanted? That's right, A BEER!. Yes, I'm still harping on the fact that I can't have beer (oooh that just made me think of the lovely Irish beer Harp... dammit!). That is the point of happy hour... $3 beer!!! Instead I had to pony up $7(!) for my cocktail. At least it was really good. Ok, onto a happy hour nibble...

Everything had gluten.

However, they had a beautiful fresh hummus with boquerones (I don't even know what that is, but after watching “Julie & Julia”, I felt super fancy and French), green olives and roast peppers, BUT, served with TOAST!!! Argh!. I hoped it would be simple to substitute veggies instead of said evil toast, and luckily it was…for just a few dollars more of course - but well worth it. Delish!

And I must mention how incredible our server was at BoHo, really patient and nice - if only they were all like that!

So the moral of my happy hour story is, learn to think outside the gluten box. I'm sure that's obvious to my fellow gluten-free freaks - but for those of us that are new to this, it's still uncharted waters. I'm still learning how to make sure I'm safe, without being a total pain in the ass. It's a fine line.

Until next time... may the gluten-free force be with you!

Love your,

p.s. I don't recommend expecting your week to suck... that's just stinkin' thinkin' - don't do it!


  1. je, je ... Lucci was wonderfully nice ... another lame (!)

    sonia gluten free

  2. It's great to see how your comrades rallied
    round once they were aware of the need for
    gluten free. If you need info on gluten free
    beer or other alcohol you can check my site

  3. Dear Heather,

    It was so nice meeting you yesterday at the restaurant. Between you (love the cheat sheet!) and the chef, (and TY to Jamie, who brought you over to the table!), it was a fun time, really! I have wandered into the void of wheat free, GF, slowly, practicing denial all along the way. That is no longer possible, or healthy!
    After talking with you, I tested myself yesterday by what I ate. I later felt and saw clearly the symptoms that eating the small amount of wheat caused. I knew I would suffer a bit, but even I was surprised at just how the allergy, etc., manifested.

    As I mentioned, I ordered a box full of supplies and new cookbooks just last week, so this week I will begin cooking and baking my own GF goods. I will let you know how it goes if you like.
    Thanks for taking the time yesterday to chat with me. I wish you the best of everything in careers and healing.

  4. Hi, I realize this is commenting on your entry from months ago, but I came across it while googling to find out if St. Germaine elderflower liqueur is really gluten-free--their website doesn't list that info and I've not found anything that validates that it is. I assume that you know it is from what you write--before my celiac diagnosis I LOVED the elderflower water, was given the liqueur and before I dive into it, I want to make sure....

  5. Hi Linda! Oh my gosh... like a newbie celiac still learning the hard way (don't even get me started about just learning my vitamins have gluten) - it didn't even OCCUR to me that St. Germaine could have gluten!

    According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, "ALL distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten free! ALL hard liquor is gluten free!"

    But is that the same for liqueurs?

    I'm going to email the company and see what I can find out - cuz I was about to ask Santa for a great big bottle in my stocking!

    Thanks so much for your comment... I need all the help I can get... will let you know when I find a definitive answer.


  6. It's incredible how hard to find a restaurant where we can eat something without gluten.