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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"What would have Marie Antoinette notoriously not said, instead of "Let them eat cake", in a gluten-free world?", or the one about how it feels to live with celiac disease

How would your life look like without pizza, without pasta, without bread?
Can you imagine that?

And can you imagine a life without cookies, cakes, muffins, cupcakes, brownies and amaretti, donuts, biscuits, waffles, croissants, baklava, strudel?
Without grissini, tacos, burritos, food in breadcrumbs, bruschetta, piadine, churros, crackers, baguettes, and pies?
Without licorice, chocolate bars, ice cream and ice cream cones, French fries and potato chips, biscuits and crisps, savory snacks and crunchy cereals?
Without rolls, wraps, sandwiches, toasts, panini, sweet buns?
Without bulgur, soba noodles, couscous, chapati bread, focaccia, calzoni, and soja sauce?
Pastry of any kind, anyone?

Can you? Would you? Should you?

[Kirsten Dunst as the Queen Marie Antoinette
in Sofia Coppola's underrated biopic 
released in 2006.
It is very unlikely that the French Queen 
ever said "Let them eat cake". 
Still, what would have people misattributed 
to her in a gluten-free world? 
"Let them eat Cañihua and caramel scented popped Amaranth"!? ]

It would look like the life that, just until one generation ago, most people affected by the celiac disease were forced to live.
Not because going gluten-free was the ultimate hipster hype, not because some celebrity said that gluten is evil, not because they wanted to lose weight, but just because they had no choice.

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.
John Maynard Keynes [1883-1946]

For about 2,000 years, celiac disease has been considered a very rare disease and therefore there were not that many studies dedicated to it and not that many specialists able to diagnose it properly and to help patients affected by it. 

And last but not least, there were not so many products available on the market back then, and they were very expensive and usually not that yummy. Not something you would look forward to, or you would steal with an innocent glance and puppy eyes from your table neighbor's plate and for sure not something you would stuff yourself with after a breakup or a bad day, so to say.
Well, at least not if you didn't want to get even more down.

[Sorry, Lilo & Stitch:
there is no gluten-free cake available!]

This was particularly evident and under everybody's eyes during Christmas time:
Holiday sweets, Italian panettone and pandoro, ginger cookies, Spekulatius cookies, Weihnachtsstollen, and the like?
Ah, just forget it.

[Pandoro and panettone are 
among the most classical Christmas cakes 
eaten in Italy during Christmas time, 
and during Christmas time only.
Just twenty years ago, a gluten-free version 
of these guys would have been science-fiction]

Slowly but surely, in the last fifty years and even faster in the last fifteen years, this has changed and nowadays not only more and more people get diagnosed (and luckily, diagnosed fast, instead of spending precious years of their lives while dealing with the symptoms of the disease without having a clue about the causes and how to change this), but there is also a bigger range of gluten-free products available on the market. 

Most of the time, they are still expensive and the taste doesn't match the original one, but hey!, it is definitely better than in the past.
I am amazed myself at how much the market has changed in the last ten years and every year new products are made available. Not all of them are worth the money or they are not something you would eat every day, but the more options, the better. 

[Purple potato chips: they are not only purple,
but also delicious, tasty and... gluten-free. Yay!]

Still, eating out is not always a breeze and finding a gluten-free friendly cafè or restaurant, where gluten-free options are available and the kitchen staff knows what food contamination is and how to avoid it, is sometimes a big deal.
Therefore, being able to go out, to choose from a well-conceived menu and to enjoy a meal or a snack without feeling ill within ten or twenty minutes, is pure gold and something that one should not take for granted.

I know for sure that I don't and that I am always thankful for the many options I have now, if I feel like going out.
Here you can find a list of very cool gluten-free friendly places in Berlin where people like me, affected by celiac disease, can go and have dinner or lunch or a snack or [fill the delicious blank] while ordering something gluten-free from a menu, in a breeze, no long explanations needed.
(to be improved and updated in the coming weeks and months)

Life can be a piece of cake, after all. A gluten-free one.

Tags: Gluten-free, Celiac disease, Living gluten-free, Gluten-free friendly places, Berlin

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