Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the site of Bon Appétit, written by Rochelle Bilow
After test-kitchen contributor Jackie Ourman‘s 7 year-old son was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2011, she began worrying: Will we ever eat normally again? She mourned the eating life she assumed her son would never experience. (Birthday cakes! Pizza parties! Beer in college!), and just as the enormity of the situation was sinking in, Ourman got another bomb: She was also gluten-intolerant. A former HR professional in investment banking turned stay-at-home mom, Ourman realized she was not content with a lifetime of lumpy pasta, rice crackers, and processed, packaged wheat substitutes, she decided to enroll in culinary school. There, she learned to cook and bake without gluten, chronicling her experiences along the way. An internship opportunity led her to Bon Appétit, where she now works in the test kitchen.
Ourman knows too well that these days, uttering the phrase “gluten-free” is a sure way to incite controversy and spark debate. From the gluten-intolerant and gluten-sensitive to the gluten-oblivious, our country is obsessed with this elasticity-giving protein composite found in wheat, barley, rye, and brewer’s yeast. Although not everyone who avoids gluten is intolerant of it, Ourman and her son represent the small portion (about 1%) of the population who can’t absorb nutrients in gluten-containing foods—eating it makes them sick. In light of that, Ourman has dedicated herself to raising awareness about living a gluten-free lifestyle, including how to cook without gluten and how to navigate the world of dining out.