I will never forget the day I met her. Bunch of people gathered in a small apartment to celebrate 2015 New Year’s Eve. Besides my brother and a friend not many I knew. Shaking hands with them took a lifetime until I shook hers. I can’t say it was love on the first sight but at that moment time dimension changed, hours became minutes, minutes became seconds.
After an unexpected event, we decided to meet again, tomorrow. I invited her for a dinner but since our town is relatively small and everybody was still in the celebration mood, only one restaurant was open. Among locals, this restaurant was known for delicious pizzas and grill specialties. It was promising a great first date. While chatting and pulling as much information as possible from each other we ordered our food. Usually, I eat a lot of meat but since it was a date I went for pasta Carbonara and she asked for a grilled meat. “Not really girlish” I thought. She kindly added that no bread should be grilled with or put on the meat. “Man, she loves meat” I thought again. No further overthinking was made until they brought our food. As my Carbonara looked tempting, she got a big, warm, juicy “lepinja” (triple-raised soft baked flatbread) on top of her meat. She immediately reacted saying she’s not allowed to eat bread nor meat contaminated with gluten. Rolling her eyes, the waitress went to bring a new one although the time of bringing it back to the table was suspiciously short so she never touched her meat. That was the moment where I got my first Celiac Disease lesson.
“Celia, what?” I asked her. “Celiac Disease is a disease where one is not allowed to consume foods containing gluten nor foods contaminated with it” she replied. This is not so bad I thought but when the conversation went deeper about where gluten is present my eyes went wide open. “Man, this suck” I thought.
But the more our lives were becoming intertwined the more I was learning about cons and mostly pros of the disease. Even though some recipes were very complicated at the first sigh, she mostly made cooking look so easy and fun. Taste of everything she made was so delicious, I never really noticed there is a difference between gluten and gluten-free. Crunchy from outside but soft from inside gluten-free bread with home-made salami and vegetables picked from her own garden for breakfast, master-chef burger for lunch and raspberry pie with vanilla ice cream for a dessert … I could go on and on … I can humbly say I’ve never ate so good in my life. Every dish I knew, Tea made it better and healthier.
Before meeting my wife, I was a person who thought about food only because I needed to, when I had time and when I was extremely hungry. Living with her changed my perspective about food and eating completely. Today, I care about what I consume which is the first step in eating healthy. No fast food, no suspicious restaurants, no fatty sauces, just pure dishes when eating out and more interactivity and creativity when eating at home. There are days when I go out and eat from a bakery or a pizza place but I never bring or order gluten-containing or contaminated food at home.
My message to all those partners, friends or family of Celiac people – it’s not easy to change and adapt but when you do, you will realize that Celiac disease is not a disease, it’s a way of living healthy, happy and long life. I have chosen my wife because what she is and not because what she can’t eat.