Hands down, brunch is my favourite meal at my favourite time of day. It offers me a certain sense of freedom: I can sleep in, take food photographs or enjoy the peace and quiet with a cup of coffee. Before becoming a Celiac, the 11 am brunch was absolutely perfect! But when Rich and I recently received an invitation to a potluck brunch from a friend that we hadn’t seen in awhile I had mixed emotions. Even though I was excited to go I was also filled with anxiety.
I couldn’t exactly ask twenty different people to bring gluten-free options for little ole me. It would be different if it was a smaller brunch with all my besties who are familiar with my concern.
So how could I have a good time, eat some great food, and avoid being ‘glutened’?
Cross-contamination is a real risk at potluck or buffet events - any time people are sharing food. People unaware of others’ sensitivities might use the same utensils for several foods, i.e. a serving spoon from the breakfast casserole could be stuck into the hash browns. Or the food dishes could be placed too closely together, i.e. a crumb from a scone might fall into the fruit bowl.
It can also be a bit embarrassing to explain to others why you might not want to try their awesome chocolate brownies or why you’re avoiding the most popular dish everyone is talking about. I don’t like calling attention to myself and my celiac disease. I don’t want that to be what people remember me for. It’s not something I want to be identified by.
If you have similar anxieties about brunch, know that you’re not alone.
You don’t have to assume you’re the only one with allergies, sensitivities, religious or lifestyle restrictions, or an autoimmune condition. There is some comfort in numbers. It means you won’t be the odd person out.
More importantly, we all need to realize that nobody is really watching to see what we’re putting on our plates.
In the end, the brunch went off without a hitch. Yours can too.
FOUR TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL BRUNCH WITH NEW FRIENDS:
1. Eat a little beforehand to take the edge of your hunger just in case the table is full of delicious chocolate croissants you can’t eat.
2. Bring food that doesn’t require spoons or knives. This will lower your risk of cross-contamination. A fruit tray or something else that is bite sized and can be picked up with your fingers such as mini quiches will do.
3. Have a cup of coffee in your hands, or carry around a plate with some fruit if you want to avoid having attention drawn to yourself.
4. Trust your gut. If you’re not sure, don’t eat it. Ask the host, or the person who made the dish, what the ingredients are. There is no such thing as too many questions! Ever.
Until next time!