Sunday, 17 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: BBQ

I was recently invited to a barbeque, and I said, "Well, I'd love to come, but I can't eat barbeque."

In response, my friend said, "Right, you wouldn't know what's on the meat."

Well, that too, I guess. I meant everything, but yeah, sure.

If you're wondering why that is, let's walk through a regular BBQ. The kind of summer evening meal I grew up with.

Somebody is manning the BBQ. They have hamburgers (sometimes contains bread crums) and hot dogs (often contain wheat gluten in one form or another) cooking on the bottom, with a bunch of buns toasting on the top rack.

Hold up. As soon as those bread products touch the BBQ rack, I can't eat anything that comes off of it. So unless you've recently scrubbed the rack and saved a spot for my GF bun, I can't toast my bread.

Well, that's alright. It doesn't have to be toasted. What about the meat?

Well, if the meat does not contain gluten to begin with, and the rack it's cooking on has been cleaned, it is theoretically safe. Unless the buns are being toasted above it. Crumbs like to fall and get on everything.

Okay, so I've been to a barbeque where the chef set aside my meat and bun, making sure the rack was clean, the meat was safe, and there was no chance of crumbs. So now I have a hamburger! Yay!

Then everybody lines up, gets a bun and burger, and then files past a table filled with condiments, veggies, chips and sides.

If the condiments come out of a squeeze bottle and I'm fairly certain the tip is clean and hasn't been rammed into some careless person's bun, then I can douse my burger in ketchup and mustard. Any condiments served in a dish are just not okay, though (such relish and mayonnaise). The toppings are a gamble. If I think they were prepared without contamination and I'm the first person through the line, then my burger gets a little lettuce and pickle. Typically, I go without.

Now, here's the big one. As everyone goes through the line, they handle their burger and bun. They touch the bread, and then they reach into the big ol' chip bowl and dish out a handful of chips. They they're touching the raw veggies...

So if I'm the first person through the line, and the chips are a gluten-free brand, I grab some chips and veggies (although I skip the veggie dip). Then there's coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad. I usually just skip all of those, unless I have time to stand there and read the ingredients, and I'm confident no one has contaminated them.

Basically, if I have a BBQ with close friends or family, and the people preparing the food are conscious of my needs and go out of their way, I can eat several things. But if I just show up at a big BBQ, I'm not even eating the chips. Maybe I'll have a can of pop.

With this being May long weekend and summer officially being underway, I'm sure you can imagine how this has me in a fit of nerves. Erg, BBQ season.

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