Casa del Picky Eaters

Gluten Free Pizza for Poorly People & Paralympic Excellence

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Last Friday I spent a two hour meeting sitting next to a colleague who had a cold. As he leant over to crack a joke about one of the other delegates having a name that sounded a bit like Peter Parker and so she must therefore be Spiderman, I said, if you breathe over me again I’m going to move. Well, I didn’t move and now I’m bloody unwell. Can’t breathe properly, can’t speak without coughing, can’t sleep, the works. I was even drinking soluble multivitamins in that meeting! I’m giving them up. Anyway, this means that the Olympic Food is on hiatus for a while as I don’t want to be cooking things for the first time while I’m too ill to be able to taste them properly.

Yesterday I had to really fight to get through to the end of the working day and so all I wanted when I got home was something that required even less effort than the process of ordering and receiving a takeaway. B was having a team night out with work so I went to the freezer to retrieve my favourite gluten free pizza: the Bonta d’Italia Margherita (Dietary Specials, from Asda). The Bonta bases are excellent – they remind me* of those brilliant Neapolitan-style super thin and crispy “normal” pizzas and taste authentically stonebaked. However, if you’ve read a few of my other posts you’ll know that I just can’t leave well alone when it comes to recipes and this is no exception. From the fridge: proper buffalo mozzarella and parma ham. From the storecupboard, dried oregano (you should always, always add this to the top of any home-cooked pizza, handmade or store-bought. Trust me) and black pepper. You could use whatever toppings you like, obviously. Just pimp that Bonta. Ten minutes in a really hot oven. Heaven. Treated myself to a very rare midweek glass of wine (ok, two) with it to try and pickle the cold germs. It didn’t work but the pizza was precious salve to a fevered mind and body.

If you do the Twitter, you’ll have seen posts in the last couple of days complaining that the Royal Mail won’t be affording the same accolades of individual stamps for Paralympic gold medallists as it is currently doing for their Olympic counterparts. I’m absurdly disappointed by this. There’s been a series running on Channel 4 called “That Paralympic Show” which has been an incredible education on Paralympic sports and I’m looking forward to that more than I was to the Olympics (although my Olympimania did eventually arrive). Those guys and gals are incredible.

It got me thinking, in a very roundabout way, about the experience of coeliac diagnosis and what is anecdotally a very common reaction: initially you’re relieved and grateful that someone’s finally told you why you’ve been so ill, and that you’ll be able to get better, but that’s very quickly replaced by “No bread? No pasta? No beer? Ever? Oh my god, my life is over!”. So now, take that “my life is over!” feeling and imagine how intense it would be if you woke up to find that you’d had both legs amputated after a car crash. At least a million times worse. Pretty hard to see any future at that point, I’d guess. So then imagine what an incredible feat it must be to go from that terrible moment to playing a sport like basketball, and playing it so well that you’re representing your country. And then imagine getting a gold medal: being the best in the world. Isn’t that amazing? Astonishing? Worthy of huge celebration? Royal Mail have wound it back slightly and said that they’ll produce six stamps with group shots of the Paralympic gold medallists once the games are over. If you think the Paralympians deserve better, tell @RoyalMail.

*I was going to say “are just like” Neapolitan-style pizzas, but I once told a girl at work that the gluten free biscuits I was eating were “just like real biscuits” and she should try one. She took one bite, and said rather darkly, No, they are not.

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