Thursday, 3 March 2011

Glorious Food

Food allergies and intolerances can be a real nuisance. My son is coeliac -or 'celiac,' in American - which means he's intolerant to the gluten found in wheat, barley, oats or rye. It's not life-threatening, thank goodness - I don't know how someone copes with peanut allergy, for example, and my heart goes out to parents in that situation - and like most people with this sort of thing, he copes. We cope. Ya basically leave out the stuff that's bad for ya, and keep on with the good stuff. Common sense.

We can replace or substitute most things, and it's generally not a problem, in fact, it's often a bonus. The Salute brand of gluten-free pasta, for example is wonderful stuff. You can't tell it from 'ordinary' pasta, and I think it's far nicer. We've had a go at home-made pasta, and while it's worked out okay, it's not really worth the extra effort more than occasionally. We're happier with the bought stuff.

Cakes and biscuits, pretty easy. Baking gluten-free isn't a problem. I can knock out fairy cakes, sponges, brownies, cookies and muffins pretty well, and believe me, I'm not that much of a baker. And if we don't want to home-bake, there are plenty of gluten-free baked goods to buy in shops, supermarkets and on-line.

Did you hear me, oh, you manufacturers of gluten-free foods? I said, there are PLENTY! We don't need ANY more!

What we DO want are more savoury options. Gluten-free pastry, for example. The holy grail would be GF puff-pastry, but I've only once ever been able to buy that, and the supplier now no longer stocks it. Why, I don't know. Yes, I did ask. No, I didn't get a satisfactory answer. The same supplier used to import wonderful spinach and ricotta ravioli from Italy, but they don't do that any more, either.

Now, I can understand food imports being a problem for a small supplier. But the maunfacturer of this product - an international manufacturer - also makes and sells frozen pasta dishes in the UK, namely a beef lasagne. The last time I looked, you use lasagne sheets to make ravioli, don't you? So why can't they make ravioli, too?

There IS a market for it, because I've seen discussions on the same manufacturer's on-line forum where UK coeliacs asked why they couldn't buy the ravioli in the UK. Again, no satisfactorty amswer, just some patronising rot about manufacturing processes and factories. That's hogwash. If they're set up to make lasagne, they're set up to make ravioli.

It's not that they can't - it's that they won't. There does seem to be this notion in the UK that all coeliacs 'miss' is bread, biscuits and cakes. I'm beginning to think these maunfacturers think that all coeliacs need to EAT is bread, biscuits and cakes! Oh, and don't get me started on the price of it all. Gkuten free food costs a fortune.

Beleiev me, I make sure my son eats well. I cook dinner from scratch every night, with fresh ingredients. But sometimes....just occasionally....I wish I could buy pastry, tortilla wraps, filled pasta and a whole bunch of other stuff that I KNOW other coeliacs would like to have.

WHy don't these manufacturers ASK what's wanted? And then, if they DO ask - why don't they pay attention to the answers?

Convenience foods? Whose, convenience, I wonder? Cos it's not for the 'convenience' of many coeliacs.

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