To my utter shock, almost dismay, and complete surprise, I found a gluten-free section in a FRENCH GROCERY STORE TODAY. Quoi?!?! French flour already has a substantially lower gluten content than American flour. What’s more, France is the one place that I, someone with a strong gluten intolerance, can actually tolerate a bit of bread due to the lack of ingredient modification, the purity of ingredients, and the diminished gluten content.
After scouring the section in complete disbelief (I mean, for France, bread and pastries almost dictate daily function), I stumbled upon the book section and found this:
I gathered up my selections for my gluten-free kitchen in Aix-en-Provence for the next few days, and was astonished to find quinoa and buckwheat-flake CHOCOLATE cereal flakes, lactose-free goat’s milk, buckwheat fusilli, and organic dark chocolate to complete my evening’s cooking at home. (Plus chicken and wine and broccoli and yummy things, but those are not surprisingly gluten-free, as the rest of this grocery trip was.)
<–conveniently, of course, my camera broke right before I could take a photo of the dinner, but imagine a “bouquet garni” of thyme, and bay leaf, with garlic, poached in French butter with an organic chicken breast, thyme, butter, and garlic buckwheat fusilli noodles, and some garlic-caramelized broccoli, polished down by a 3 euro bottle of organic tempranillo and several pieces of organic dark chocolate from France. Ouiiiiii, oui oui oui.
At the check-out counter I eagerly asked the young gal working the register what the deal was with this gluten-free emergence in France, and who buys this stuff. She replied that some people have “intolerances”, and these products are for them. I explained my story to her, and she remarked that other people simply have higher intolerances than me. She is right.
Like my nut allergy, gluten intolerances can be incredibly severe, in cases like those with celiac and a notch down. While diminished gluten content will not wreck my week if it finds a fleck on a piece of food I savor in my very-happy-to-be-in-France mouth, it can ruin the next hours for someone with Celiac. The good news? Gluten-free is now being recognized world-wide as something to pay attention to, as we do all want to eat good food, comforting food, and not be excluded from the food we love.
Good for France, the epitome of traditional cuisine, for adapting to the modern dietary needs of its tasteful citizens.