If you know someone who has celiac disease making sure their supper club menu is gluten free is essential. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide
There are two approaches to making a gluten free menu:
- Developing a menu of items that are gluten free. Researching ingredient lines to make sure a dish is gluten free. Segregating production to insure that there is no cross contamination from gluten based ingredients. Serving items so that those with gluten intolerance know what is safe for them.
- Developing gluten free dishes, substituting gluten free ingredients (flour) for regular flour or other gluten free ingredients. This is a lot more difficult because you really need to test items. Gluten adds structure and texture to flour and plays an important role in cooking. You will need to add gums (guar or xanthan) and possibly eggs to get the desired results.
Taking steps to make sure your meal is gluten free isn’t all the hard. It just takes some knowledge and diligence. The hard part is that wheat based ingredients are used pervasively in the food industry and you need to be careful.
Gluten free has become a fad for perceived health benefits. The good news is that there has been a proliferation of gluten free products. The bad news is that many of the gluten free products are not really good for you. It is much like the fat free fad of the 1990’s and the tropical oil scare of the 1980’s. Manufacturers will make what the market wants. Unfortunately, the result isn’t always healthier products.
I have developed menus for events where we have had people with celiac disease. The menus have included both gluten free and traditional dishes. I start with a little research of labels delineating ingredients to make sure there isn’t any gluten.
The next step is preparing all the gluten free products separately to make sure there isn’t any cross contamination. I do a wash down of the workspace, cookware and utensils in between traditional and gluten free production. The final step is to label dishes and to provide ingredient lists to those who have celiac disease
People with celiac disease can have a hard time with food, but there is no reason they cannot enjoy a supper club dinner party.
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