It’s pizza night at my house. Which in most American households brings images of sullen teenage pizza delivery boys dropping off luke-warm, greasy, floppy pizza about an hour after they said it would be there. In my house, it’s a bit different.
Tonight will be a full house. My boyfriend is here, as is my roommate’s boyfriend, and the third roommate’s girlfriend is here too. So that’s 6 adults, most of whom are in their mid-20’s, all eating. Then there are the food allergies and dislikes. A (female roommate) can’t have onions and doesn’t like anything made from pigs…except peperoni. I can’t have wheat (gluten). Thankfully M (our male roommate) and all of our respective significant others are intolerance free.
So first the trip to the regular grocery store down the street. I swear I’ve seen gluten free pizza crusts or mix there before. But alas, none to be found. So we picked up what we could of the supplies, loaded it in the basket of my big yellow bike, and made our way home. There’s another grocery store nearby, one of those fancy natural food store chains that charge an arm and a leg. But I knew that they had a huge selection of gluten free products. So we put our pizza toppings and regular dough in the fridge and headed off the other direction to the other store.
Well, I didn’t find pre-made crust, but I did find a mix. More work than I really wanted, but I can’t complain. I didn’t have to start from scratch, so I’ll take it. The no onions thing has almost become second nature at this point, I just prepare onions separately and since I had planned to set up a top your own pizza bar, it was easy enough for people to leave out the things they didn’t like or couldn’t have. I was happily surprised that the dough for my pizza turned out well and tasted ok. Let’s be real here. Gluten free yeast breads are just never going to be like their wheat-flour cousins. I’ve just been simply avoiding the whole thing by preparing meals that don’t have a bread component entirely. I probably could have rolled this crust out thinner and would probably been happier with it. But such is life. The one mix made me about 8 personal size pizzas. I only had two tonight, and the directions call for baking before topping, so I baked it all off without toppings then topped the two I was planning to have for dinner and popped the remaining crusts in the freezer for another day.
Now I could have bought a fully prepared frozen pizza to have for dinner, and that would have worked. But I prefer to make meals a community experience. I don’t want anyone, myself included, to feel like they’re getting something “different” or “other” just because of a few dietary limitations. By having my crusts ready and set aside to bake with every one else, it was as simple as “this crust is for Reenee, this sauce is for A, and I made sure to prepare the allergen ingredients on a separate board from everything else.”
Preparing food for various food intolerances doesn’t have to be, and really shouldn’t be a “thing” as A would say. Common sense, a clean kitchen, and a desire to make food accessible for everyone is all you need.