These are the voyages of the Celiac Tom, continuing my mission to explore strange new restaurants and other eateries, to boldly go where no Celiac has gone before.
I thought my last adventure to a pizza joint was rough, but I almost didn’t come back from this one. I found myself this week at the World Championships of Irish Dancing – Oireachtas Rince Na Cruinne for those of you who have been pestering me to dual post in Gaelic. I go to a lot of these things and, as a practicing Celiac, am usually relegated to Hershey bars from the gift shop for my sustenance. For days on end.
However, as you may have picked up from my previous posts, I am such a giver. It’s all about wanton disregard for my own health and safety to make life safer for you, the loyal readers of Celiac Bites. I take it as my ordained destiny to go
where no Celiac has gone before and find gluten free dining options – no matter what. Failure is not an option. Well, maybe failure is an option, and usually much easier, but it’s not as much fun to write about and doesn’t sound nearly so heroic.
In this weeks adventure, I attempted to find gluten free food options at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, host of the competition. “Worlds” as insiders call it, is a big deal. Thousands and thousands of people come and go throughout the week so the food is “volume optimized.” You know, where armies of temporary catering people bring in truckloads of pre-made box lunches and chafing dishes. Hmmm, this was to be a challenge to find anything more than bottled water.
My first evaluation of the buffet lines from hell was not encouraging. Chips of all types were present in abundance. All types fatal to Celiacs that is. The chips that actually contained gluten were arranged in very tasteful fashion with those that were simply cross contaminated. The artistic arrangement showing a progression of near certain death to simple illness was quite creative, and while pleasing to the eye, it still offered me nothing to eat.
Next in line were the chafing dishes of hamburgers and hot dogs. For those of you who don’t know, chafing dishes were used for thousands of years to torture food into eternal states of lukewarm purgatory and limit the quantities of food eaten by guests at large banquets and dinner parties. Chafing dishes were banned worldwide (for the good of humanity) at The First Geneva Convention of 1864. Through a little known legal loophole insisted upon by the Belgians, legal chafing dish use by convention catering companies was grandfathered in. As a side note, this was also the first recorded use of an “earmark.”
Given the storied history of chafing dishes, I was not keen on exploring further, but this is Man vs. Celiac, so I did. Opening the lid to the hamburgers, my keenly trained eye detected subtle movement. On closer examination it turned out that the burger patties were actually rising. Apparently that phenomenon can occur when lowest bidder burger patties, made with 74% percent pure gluten meal filler, are exposed to lukewarm chafing dish heat for more than 30 consecutive hours. So that ruled out the burgers.
Towards the end of the insta-buffet, I finally spotted my opportunity for a safe, healthy, and gluten free dining experience. Coke. And of course Diet Coke. At least I could cover one of the four basic food groups. Coke is one of the food groups right?
Chalk up another successful mission and documented episode of Man vs. Celiac. So next time you’re at a convention, just make a beeline to the very end of the insta-buffet and find your satisfying and refreshing gluten free Coke. Or Diet Coke if you prefer.