Goats Are My Heroes; Or, How What I Don’t Know Keeps Biting Me

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Recently, Shaunta posted about the problems she was having adhering to a gluten-free diet, and it got me thinking about my own situation. During the last six months, I have not intentionally eaten anything gluten-filled (nor have I knowingly eaten anything else on my own personal Sick List) — and considering how much I loved the living shit out of all kinds of gluteny goodies, that’s pretty danged good. Credit given, head patted, oh goody joy.

However. There have been plenty of times when I didn’t look carefully enough, and then got glutened. Back in December, I joked to a friend that I wished someone could “double-blind” me and maybe slip me soy sauce when I thought I was eating tamari or something, that way I’d know this wasn’t all in my head. Well, it ain’t no joke, I’ve “double-blinded” myself plenty since then, and let’s just say that if there were still pay toilets out there, I’d probably be broke by now. Let’s see. There was the yummy dessert tea (Almond Sunset), which turned out to have barley in it. There was the store-bought mole sauce, which had frigging wheat crackers as an ingredient. There was that oh-so-delicious house-made root beer at a local pub…yep, barley again, dammit. There was the oatmeal (*coughMcCann’scough*) processed at an oats-only facility, but likely cross-contaminated during transport. Oh, and don’t even get me started about the number of times I’ve ordered fried food in restaurants without asking if they fried their wings or potatoes in the same oil that they did their onion rings or chicken tenders in, or if any of those things were dusted with wheat flour before cooking. And even when I did get confirmation about a wings-only fryer, I neglected to ask if the jerk sauce I was about to order had gluten in it…ayup.

Why does this keep happening? What’s the point of adopting a special diet if all I’m going to do is cross my fingers and pray that what I just ate doesn’t have any sickmakers in it? I might not make myself ill as often, but if the purpose of this is not to get sick at all by my own doing, I’m falling down on the job. Pretty much literally.

Part of this, I think, goes back to the constant admonitions I experienced as a kid that I was being weird and difficult and a pain in the ass and people were tired of hearing my annoying voice and answering my dopey questions. In Gluten-Free Girl’s book, she talks about not wanting to seem like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, that woman who drove waitstaff and dinner companions to poo-flinging monkeyhood by asking for sauces on the side and things warmed up to just the right temperature. Yep. I’ve had that thought, too — I don’t want to be one of those people, picky picky picky, it’s just food, damn it, one meal out of your life, cook it yourself if you want it just so. Only it’s not just for a meal that I might not find exactly to my liking, it’s for a meal that might well put me out of commission for the rest of that day, and maybe the next day, too, maybe even longer.

So yeah. I have to be one of those people, if I don’t want to get sick. I have to. And that also means limiting my restaurant options to places I know for sure are nontoxic for me, and potentially foregoing stuff I might really like, because it’s not safe for me to eat it, even if the ingredients look okay on paper. Same goes for food at parties, conferences, other people’s homes, whatever. That’s the other mondo sucko part of this. Not that I don’t enjoy cooking, and do lots of it, because I do. But I don’t want to cook 21 meals a week from scratch week in and week out, okay? I just don’t. Who does? So that pretty much means that before I go anywhere, or have anything delivered to me, I have to, underline HAVE TO, do my homework. Call them ahead of time if need be, to make sure that what I’m about to put in my mouth will make it past Checkpoint Charlie at the entrance to my belleh. Ugh. I just have to remember that I’m not the first person in the world to ask them about the gluten (or dairy, etc.), every restaurant gets calls like that all the time. They won’t hang up on me.

Not, of course, that a little experimentation is necessarily bad, because that’s how I find out what I actually can have. Which brings me to the goats — or more specifically, their milk. Since I started accumulating lists of No foods, I pretty much assumed that all dairy products were off limits to me, because I had such terrible problems with anything having to do with cow’s milk (exception: clarified butter, which has no milk solids). But after about five months of total dairy abstention, during which I tried pretty much every vegan cheese substitute there was to try and hated all of them except Daiya mozzarella (which still feels a little weird going down, for reasons I’ve yet to quantify), I finally broke down and bought a small piece of chevre at Trader Joe’s and said, “What the hell, if I can’t eat this, I’ll pass it on to someone who can.” Y-reka! It was SO GOOD. None of that plasticky, rubbery taste I’d been suffering through, and my stomach felt fantastic after eating it. Oh, man, did I ever miss cheese.

And from there, you know what I did? I bought a quart of goat’s milk. And I made some damn mac and goat cheddar cheese (with Ancient Harvest corn/quinoa elbows). Heaven on a fork, and my tummy was so pleased with me! Then I made a milkshake with the goat’s milk and some Tempt hemp-milk chocolate frozen dessert. YUM-MEEE! And I could make my beloved Siamese Chicken Curry with Broccoli and Peanuts, which I’ve made for over two decades and which always tasted “off” when using milk subs, and it was just how I remembered it. And oh, the goat cheeses and sheep cheeses that were out there for me to have. A Brie-like soft cheese that I could have with my gluten-free King Arthur bread! Some ricotta (goat) which I combined with Pecorino Romano (sheep) to make eggplant freaking Parmesan! So two of my former “regular rotation” recipes came back to me, just like that. (Cow’s milk in any form continues to be a no-no; I had some butter the other day, just a small amount, and my stomach gave me the finger.)

So now artisan cheese, or at least some of it, can be part of my life again. If only someone would make a great gluten-free artisan bread…

15 Responses to “Goats Are My Heroes; Or, How What I Don’t Know Keeps Biting Me”

  1. buttercup Says:

    Hooray for goats for you! I can’t do goat, though I can do sheep. (Ok, that sounds wrong, but whatever.) Goat in any form I can’t get past my mouth, it just grosses me out. And I suspect some of my issues since gall bladder surgery involve gluten and/or lactose. I just don’t have the moral fiber to try to live without either of them for long enough to find out.

    I read somewhere that goat milk is closer in molecular composition to human milk and that’s why some lactose intolerant people can tolerate it.

  2. meowser Says:

    I can’t do goat, though I can do sheep. (Ok, that sounds wrong, but whatever.)

    HA! Sounds like Gene Wilder in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, huh?

    Yeah, the cholecystectomy was what did me in, too. When I still had a gallbladder, I still had bad symptomatology eating that stuff, but afterwards, it was to the point where I was afraid to leave the house. I mean, why would anyone make such sweeping dietary changes if they didn’t absolutely have to? But much as I’d love to have a pretzel and a beer at the ballpark, I don’t want to waste the rest of the game in the john, and I know I would.

    And yeah, I’d heard that about goat’s milk too, about the milk proteins being less foreign to human digestive tracts. I believe it.

  3. buttercup Says:

    “I don’t want to waste the rest of the game in the john, and I know I would.”

    Yeah, been there, done that. Not fun.

  4. Alexie Says:

    I LOVE goat’s cheese. I could eat it all day. Lately I’ve been making a veggie bake – any veggies you like, 50 min in a dish in the oven. Then put sliced goat’s cheese on top, another five minutes in oven. Done! And delicious.

    Be as picky as you like in restaurants. You aren’t the first person and you won’t be the last. Better to speak up and have a nice meal then worry about some stranger’s disapproval and spend the night in the toilet – which you will have paid good money for.

    • Meowser Says:

      Very true. In GFG’s book, she says she tells servers something like, “I cannot have even a speck of gluten, if I do I will get very sick in your restaurant.” That gets their attention!

  5. Twistie Says:

    Yet another reason for me to love goats. They make you feel good and give you happies… of a non-EYWTKASBWATA-type. After all, we don’t want to see you wind up drinking Woolite in a gutter! LOL!

    And you’re right; there’s a big difference between being a pain in the restaurant’s butt because you’re too picky for words and being a pain in the butt because you’ll be violently ill if you don’t. People who make a huge fuss simply because they’re picky annoy the snot out of me. I’m picky about my food, but since it’s not a matter of life and death (or reasonable health vs long miserable hours in the bathroom), I figure I can find a way to get along during the meal and just not go back if it’s that bad.

    But you face hours of gastrointestinal misery if you’re given the wrong foods or information about them. That’s well worth making a fuss. Do it.

  6. fat lazy celiac Says:

    I just bought a tiny piece of goat cheese last night, to see if I can tolerate it! (I’ve been dairy free for a few months, with one accidental exposure which tells me I won’t be going back to dairy.)

    As far as bread goes, have you tried Canyon Bakehouse? It’s the closest I’ve found to the sandwich bread I used to like, i.e. the opposite of Wonder Bread). Otherwise, I have a recipe for cheese bread with Daiya cheddar (which I like) that doesn’t use a ton of weird flours, and I make in a cupcake pan…

    • Meowser Says:

      Sandwich bread generally isn’t a problem to find (or even make). I like Udi’s myself (they just came out with a great burger bun, too), haven’t tried Canyon yet. What I’m talking about is more like a French bread, or maybe a ciabbatta, like you’d get from a real bakery.

  7. Val Says:

    Heh heh. TMI to post on my own blog (too many friends/family IRL have that address), but I was just trying to find the bright side in a mall restroom yesterday: at least I’m still young enough that I can pretend to be scrubbing a bloodstain out of my undies! Hopefully in a few more yrs (post-menopause), I’ll have my dietary issues all worked out, & won’t humiliate myself any further.
    Yeah, RIGHT.

  8. Jackie Says:

    I was wondering if you’ve heard of Lactase supplements. They’re good for helping people with lactose intolerance digest lactose. I use Lactaid, there’s also Digestive Advantage Lactase 24 Hour pills. You may want to try the Lactaid first, because Digestive Advantage caused me to have to use the washroom too often, but it depends on what works for you.

  9. Karla Says:

    My dad is allergic to milk and eggs and all kinds of other things, but not goats milk. Last summer I spent some time at his house, and discovered an old ice cream maker in his pantry, so I made him some homemade goats milk ice cream, which was the first time he’d had ice cream in several decades and was pretty exciting. Its a little thinner than regular ice cream because there’s less cream in the milk, even if you use whole milk, but its miles better than soy or rice ‘ice cream’. And you can customize all the other ingredients too- there are recipes all over the internet but you basically just need a milk and a sweetener. Anyway, if you run out of goats milk things to be excited about, I highly recommend making some ice cream.

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