Friday, October 14, 2011
Yellow Cake, Chocolate Icing
The two weeks after Dennis’ Celiac diagnosis have not been particularly kind to him. The day he headed back to work after being diagnosed, his office had a team building event that included a barbeque and a dessert bake off where every person in the place bought the biggest, white flour, full of gluten treats on the planet for everyone to taste. Though we don’t advocate processed food in our house, Dennis downed a whole box of gluten free snickerdoodles to survive. The next challenge came from being sent to the fair for team building(his job really is pretty awesome) and watching everyone around him eating whatever they figured out a way to fry this year. Dennis was able to locate the stand with gluten free French fries, but since he has been thoroughly schooled on cross-contamination risks, he passed it up due to the uncertainty of high food standards at the fair.
I think the biggest challenge for all of us came this week. Sitting on Dennis’ desk when he arrived at work Wednesday was a yellow cake with chocolate icing made by a very sweet lady. Her family has food allergies, and she assured Dennis it was made with gluten free flours and safe. She did confess that her house is not gluten free, but she was sure she had chased every crumb of danger from the place before she made the cake. With a smile, she dropped the cake bomb on his desk and told him to let her know if it was good.
Our rules for the food people can eat inside our house are pretty easy to follow right now: don’t eat it unless we make it or unless it is from an establishment that has been certified and guaranteed to serve gluten free, such as Wholesome Food Bakery. This cake did not meet the criteria. When Dennis told me about it over the phone, he asked my advice. I pondered before answering.
Frankly, I’m tired of being the food Nazi. I have a definite path I want our family to be on as far as food is concerned, and knowingly ingesting gluten is obviously NEVER allowed. However, this cake fell into a grey area: probably gluten free, but suspect. To me, it was a definite no, but this was Dennis' cake, and I don’t want to pull the reins so tight that everyone ends up rejecting roast and veggies to live on gluten free pizza and cookies. Plus, there is a difference between telling your two year old what to eat and controlling your husband's food consumption. So I threw it back on Dennis by asking my gold standard question: Would you let Wren eat it?
Dennis sat there for a while knowing his answer would directly affect whether he ate the cake. Finally, he said, “No, of course not. I have no idea if this is cross contaminated. There’s no way to know.” He brought the cake home in tact without the smallest piece of icing even touched. Then he left it on the counter for me to stare at all the next day.
There are a lot of memories associated with yellow cake and chocolate icing: every childhood birthday party, days of licking the bowl the mix was left in, eating cold icing right out of the tub using your finger after it’s been in the fridge. I knew when I woke up that morning that I would not eat that cake, but that certainty did not make my day easier.
In the end, no one ate the cake. We called one of my girlfriends and asked her to please come get it, but she was out with friends and couldn’t make it before the kids’ bedtime. We didn’t want to throw it away because of the expense, time, and consideration that went into making it. I think we have convinced some of Dennis’ family to come take it this weekend. For now, it’s hiding in the fridge covered by roast and veggies. We may not be able to eat it, but we can smother it in carrots.