Gluten-Free Eating at the Family Reunion

We attended a family reunion last weekend that included everyone from my parents, who are in their 70s, to my great nephew who is only a few months old. All my aunts and uncles and most of my cousins where there. A lot was made over children who had sprouted faster than anyone could believe. Overall, the gathering was a tribute to my now-deceased grandparents who always loved to get the whole family together and feed them.

A lot of the traditional recipes my grandmother used to make were re-created, and the table was weighted with covered dishes. While someone on the gluten-free diet can easily take part in the bonding at gathering like this, the food is usually another story. Take a peek under the Tupperware lid and you’ll often find pasta or breadcrumbs or flour. But keep looking and you’re likely to find enough to fill your plate.

My daughter Amanda, who has celiac disease, piled her plate with a terrific potato salad made by one of my aunts. She had fruit salad from the huge bowl we brought and cut-up veggies and dip my brother supplied. There was my grandmother’s special coleslaw carefully made by my sister-in-law. And the chicken wings were gluten free. Someone also made a jello salad I remember from my youth that consists of pear halves laid on the bottom of a glass pan that is then filled with green jello. Once the jello sets, each pear is topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry. I never liked it much, and Amanda didn’t eat it even though she could have. Hey, taste matters even when you’re on a special diet!

Platters of cookies filled a whole table. Most were made with wheat flour, but my 14-year-old son made a batch from peanut butter, eggs, and sugar. He rolled this mix into balls, then rolled the balls in sugar, and baked them before topping each cookie with a chocolate kiss. Amanda knew these were safe.

By days end I think the whole family felt re-connected, especially after all that hugging. There was talk of trying to get together once a year, though it had been at least a decade since we had all gathered before this reunion. It’s likely the college kids will be parents and the toddlers teenagers before we pull it off again.

Still we shared good company and good food. As we were cleaning up, I noticed something funny. The only cookie platter that was completely empty was the one with the gluten-free cookies. And the pear salad was hardly touched.

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