Gluten-free poolside and at a party

It’s not about the food

I live in a building that gets together socially. This past weekend was our annual pool party. The food arrangements have been different each year. To date, my options have been limited so I bring something for myself.

This year our “social director” (yes, we have one!), Lynn, is very energetic. She takes care of everyone and everything. When I arrived, she said, “’Your’ chicken is grilling.” She had purchased it specifically for me.

When I got outside, my neighbor, Steve, was already grilling the chicken. He did a fine job and the chicken was delicious.

It just occurs to me as I write this that no one knew to clean off the grill first. I didn’t tell anyone (I was not expecting such personal service) and didn’t think of it then because, to be honest, I don’t worry too much about grills. The fire is always blazing hot and whatever gluten might remain from a previous item should be burned off quickly given its size. That’s my personal decision. It may not be everyone’s choice and that’s fine.

Feeling comfortable about what we eat is a big part of living gluten free.

That’s not true in a restaurant where I cannot see the grill. Even if I can, I still explain that the grill has to be cleaned. In my view, that’s a different and less controllable venue and I want to feel comfortable.

We always have a New Year’s Eve building party, too. Like the pool party, the food arrangement varies each year. This year they used a caterer.
I had decided not to attend for a variety of reasons, food being one of them. I did run into Lynn the day before and said I wasn’t going to the party and gave food as the reason.

I thought that would be the end of it. So when the evening arrived, I was lying on the couch dealing with some sort of winter ailment and not feeling festive in any way. At roughly 9 pm, the doorman called up to say my food had arrived! Lynn had specifically ordered a meal for me.

Now I was in a bind. I felt awful. I also felt guilty staying home after Lynn went out of her way for me. So I hauled myself up off the couch and into the shower, which woke me up and gave me some energy. When I got there, my meal was waiting. And I enjoyed the party.

I never expect special accommodations at a party, especially a large party. Whatever the occasion, it’s not about the food but about friendship and family and getting together and celebrating in some way. At best, in my take, food is secondary.