For anyone who has food allergies or even lives with someone with one, this will be a familiar story.
After years of pain and uncomfortable eating, my wife Jojo finally was told that she had a food allergy. A bunch of them actually. The biggest of them all is an allergy to wheat, which is not easy when you live in France, where the bread is pretty tasty. Even a simple baguette is light years ahead of Wonder bread. (It’s always been a wonder that both are considered to be bread.)
We also have a few other friends with wheat allergies, so when we’re doing dinners with friends or vacationing with them, we need to make some adjustments. For starters, anything with typical wheat is out of the question, though for some, spelt can be eaten without problems. Spelt is an older wheat that is what the Roman Army ate.
A few summers ago, we did manage to find a loaf of bread made with spelt, though the consistency was similar to a brick. You could build houses with those things they’re so heavy. Eating “normal” wheat is still very much a yearning for everyone I know with a wheat allergy, but when they crumble and try it again, they often get sick soon after. (NOTE FROM JOHN: I swear by this gluten-free brownie recipe from our friend David Lebovitz, for any gluten-free folks out there. I don’t have any gluten issues, I just loves the brownies – the best and easiest recipe I’ve ever tried.)
In my efforts to try and find something “bread like” for Jojo, I’ve experimented with other grains. I’m not a big quinoa fan, but it can have it’s moments. I’m much more of a polenta person myself, though it’s not something that thrills Jojo. (Though my polenta pizzas on the BBQ outside are pretty darned good, I must admit — I use polenta as the crust.)
For all of you food allergy sufferers out there, I think you will get a kick out of this. Jojo herself sent it to me after receiving it from a good friend, who also has a serious wheat allergy. Sung to the music from Les Misérables, “One More Grain.”