11 Sep 2013

ode to bread

On Monday I was officially diagnosed with coeliac disease - it's where your immune system reacts to the gluten in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats causing damaging the bowel and your body's ability to absorb nutrients properly. The only treatment is a life-long diet free from gluten. This discovery is both comforting and devastating to me... comforting to know there is a real cause behind symptoms of bloating, irritable bowel, malabsorption and exhaustion I've felt increasing over the past year... yet devastating to think of life without ever eating a slice of rye sourdough dipped in olive oil or wholewheat spelt slathered in butter, hunk of sweet brioche or bowl of vegetable and barley broth again... say nothing of the breakfast staple of porridge...

I try to remember the fact that I have just spent two years living in the land of bread - where I savoured many many wonderful baked goods. It makes sense to me now why I found sourdough gentler on my gut because the process of fermentation partially breaks down the gluten proteins. 

There are alternatives I hear you say, things made with potatoes, rice, corn, quinoa, coconut, nuts and buckwheat... you are right, and it's exciting to think of experimenting with other flours and grains. But let's not pretend these are substitutes for gloriously light and silky wheat-floured breads, please! Or for the patient joy that fermenting, preparing, kneading, punching down, shaping and baking sourdough brings. 

For the moment though, I want to pause in thanks and remembrance for a life thus far of enjoying, eating and baking with gluten in all her glory... especially:
pain aux noix (sourdough walnut bread) 
a really lovely loaf... fruit & nut sourdough

May you savour every slice


  1. Aw Em! And you love bread baking so much. But given your absolute talent for bread baking and adventurous cooking I'm sure in time you'll come to love new loaves even more. (and surely an occasional slice of bread once in a while couldn't hurt?)

  2. tough news! http://www.cannellevanille.com might provide some inspiration, wonderful recipes, gorgeous photos and all gluten free, including lots of baked treats, good luck!

  3. Oh poor thing! You truly are the most avid bread lover I've ever encountered, so I can imagine how hard that news is. I agree with the first commenter though: if anyone can make truly delicious and gorgeous gluten-free bread, it will be you. Good luck!

  4. Noooooooooooooooooooooo! What will I do without your amazing bread inspiration?

  5. :( So tis official then.....
    I agree with what Alice said though...your creativity with food will surely bring you to new delicious nourishing creations...Of course they will not substitute real bread but they would be exciting things in themselves.
    Best of luck and inspiration for this new 'journey'!

  6. Am sorry to hear about the disease. I really am. I love bread and grains. I think always about how it would be if I couldn't eat what people ate in Biblical times. I'm glad though that you now know what is troubling you. In case you need a book on this, you might be interested in reading "Patient Heal Thyself" by Jordin Rueben (name may be slightly incorrectly spelled). He had a devastating case of celiac and got so skinny with illness until doctors finally discovered what was wrong with him. It took globetrotting to get an answer.

  7. Sad, sad farewell to delicious bread! but as others have said I'm sure you'll creation new inspirations for you that others will enjoy!

  8. Oh no! But I do look forward to seeing where your future baking endeavours take you. And I'm sure your looking forward to a healthier future (:

  9. Oh friend, I am so sorry. My mom has Celiac, so I know how hard it can be. There are so many good resources out there, and I know you will be an inspiration in your gluten free ways... but I know, too, what a tragedy it is to give up bread. xoxo

  10. I can guarantee from personal experience dear Emily that in months you will better and in a couple of years you will be amazed at how much more energetic and well you feel once the diet has been established! Quinoa and buckwheat, millet and soybeans await! I will email my magic millet mush recipe!


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