Yesterday I had lunch at PF Chang’s in my local mall. Jammed packed with tons of shoppers off from work and school for Veteran’s Day, there was a 20 minute wait for a table. Luckily a couple had just left the bar, and I was able to grab one of the two side-by-side seats they vacated.
As I settled into place, I envisioned the mouth-watering Lettuce Wraps & spicy General Tsao like-chicken I was soon to devour. Glancing up at the TV, I caught the tail end of CNN showing a clip of that Carnival Cruise boat docking in California, packed with those poor folks that had nothing to eat for the past several days except for Pop Tarts & Spam. Guiltily, my soon to eat feast felt that much more sacred.
Suddenly a gal impeccable dressed in Burberry and made-up like a run-way model, barged her way into the empty seat next to mine all the while wrestling with several shopping bags bearing the names of Gucci, Juicy Couture and Louis Vuitton.
As she plunked herself down, she loudly and immediately asked the bartender to change the TV station to “anything but the news” since, “she never watches it because it’s so depressing”. Her commanding presence had that TV channel changed in no time flat.
Suddenly that 20 minute wait for a table didn’t seem like the eternity in which my much craved lunch was surely about to become.
As I ordered my gluten-free meal, Ms. Gucci squealed in delight proclaiming “O’ma Godddd! I’m on that new ‘It-Diet’ too! Just like Gwyneth and all those others in California!”
Thinking that maybe, just maybe, it might be worth trying to explain, I clarified that I was on the gluten-free diet, not because it was the new “It Diet” but because I had something called celiac sprue disease. In a flash, Ms. Gucci backed her stool away from me as if I had some kind of catchy flesh-eating disease that if contracted may keep her penned-up and away from the mall for months. Although I was grateful for the extra elbow room in such tight quarters, I kept my composure, and in my most simple and childlike language I could muster, I assured her that celiac disease is not catchy, and further went on to explained that the “cure” was a life-long adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. I also explained that those with celiac disease can’t eat anything with gluten, even the things you wouldn’t imagine would, but do; things like the regular soy sauce served at most restaurants.
It was then that she let me know that she and “hundreds of her friends” just don’t eat things that have “real gluten” in them… things like bagels, pizza, pasta, cakes and cookies.
Really? I mean… Really?
It was then I realized that this whole deal of the gluten-free diet being the “It Diet” really should be called the “Don’t Get It” diet.
After finishing up my lunch, in which (thankfully) Ms. Gucci was so enthralled with texting on her newest smartphone that we didn’t find the need to converse any longer, I gathered up my shopping bags from Sears and JC Penney, and bid my goodbyes to my haphazard dining companion.
But before leaving, I decided to mention to Ms. Gucci today’s newest “It Diet”. A new diet that surely she hadn’t heard about yet. A diet that has been covered by every news station. The newest diet craze that thousand of folks in California have just discovered. Yup… the “Pop Tart & Spam” diet. I told her to give it a try, and leave the gluten-free diet to those of us who “get it”.