Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Why people with food-intolerances need enormous houses and some coeliacs might eat gluten

I have been looking at all my stuff trying to think how to fit into a small flat rather than a rambling farmhouse with outbuildings.  OK, so I have kept stuff from every hobby I have ever tried, and between us we have kit for sailing, windsurfing, surfing, skiing (downhill and nordic) Heelies, jewellery, electronics, welding, wine-making, pottery, embroidery on a grand scale, oil and acrylic painting (easels for three people) and so on.

But, a big problem is thinking about kitchen storage.  If an ordinary person wants a bag of flour they buy a bag of flour.  If I need more flour I have to buy at least three ingredients, at least two of which have to come from an Internet supplier.  So, OK, I need to buy three bags of flour to make one bag of flour.  Big deal.

But then, look at the costs.  A bag of tapioca or urid might cost only a few pounds ( still 7-10 times the price of ordinary flour).  Postage on one bag of flour costs much more than the flour itself.  Occasionally I have bought flour, eg chestnut, where I just paid much more for the delivery than the flour, but usually I buy enough stuff to make the unit cost of the postage seem reasonable or to hit the free delivery band.

There is also the time lag associated with Internet shopping. Most people manage a near-next day delivery now, but sometimes I have had to wait for weeks for an out of stock staple.  So more flour earlier is better from this perspective too.

So, for the flour to make a single cake I might end up with twelve bags of tapioca, six cartons of Eat Natural muesli, some blue corn tortilla and a few other bits and pieces in one box, and six bags of urid lentils, some curry paste and some cooking tongs in another box.

In one fell swoop I have gone from needing a product that for most people is available for 60p in any grocery store and takes up one small space on a shelf to twenty items which cost £70 and take up half a cubic meter of cupboard space - or on top of the washing machine and on the stairs.....

Then there is the finished food.  I bake enough bagels at a time to last about a week.  They take up a whole shelf in the freezer.  Other people can just go to a shop and buy a single cupcake or a sandwich or a loaf of bread.  Of course, if I was prepared to eat really bad food or hunt out the few reasonable specialist suppliers (Internet, postage, storage...) this wouldn't be such an issue.

If I didn't make reasonable pizza, pasties, cookies, cakes etc it would be harder for TT to keep the house safe for me too.  I bluntly said if he couldn't avoid smearing gluten all around the house I'd have to have a separate house (now that's another twist on the theme of needing more space) so it is a big deal.

Steering clear of those tiny deadly proteins means adopting an obsessive lifestyle and, for me, an obsessive interest in the structural attributes and function of myriad of other materials.  It is easy to see why, for those who don't have excruciating and immediately noticeable effects from eating gluten, that they give up abstaining, trading social integration and convenience for the threat of future malaise.

I could just eat potatoes I suppose.  Where would be the fun in that?


  1. In case anyone thinks she is exaggerating, I can assure you that this is only the half of it.Several hobbies have been left out and there is no mention of all the other stuff in the big freezer in the barn, or the dried fruit.....

  2. :-) I love your comment rodgriff!
    I have had to buy a second freezer and lucky for me I have a big kitchen. It use to be so nicely organised and everything sat nicely in it's place in my cupboards and drawers.
    Now the kitchen is totally disaorganised and things nestle on top of each other and fight for space.


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