Food: A Lifelong Journey

My name is Pamela. I lived in Eastern Virginia for the first twenty-some-odd years of my life, and then moved to Central Appalachia to go to law school. After law school, I moved to Utah, and less than a year later, I’m thinking about moving back to Appalachia – Kentucky this time.  My life has hardly gone in the direction I anticipated, but then again, whose has?

I’ve always loved food. Always. From cooking, to gardening, to food politics, I love it all. (Even when things go horribly wrong.) 

When I was a little girl, my grandmother taught me how to bake, first by letting me crack eggs into the brownie mix, then by moving on to teach me how to measure each ingredient for baked goods ever so carefully.

I started making my own lunches in elementary school, not because my parents wouldn’t do it, but because I wanted the satisfaction of doing it myself. Sometime in middle school, my science fair project involved testing optimum baking times and temperatures for cookies. In high school, I did a church fundraiser by making and selling ginger cookies. Long after the fundraiser was over, people still requested those cookies!

In college, I mourned the fact that all freshmen were required to have a meal plan. Sure, it was a great way to meet people and bond with hallmates, but I was disgusted by how much oil was on everything, how stale the pastries were, how wilted the salad greens always looked, and I especially hated the “Caf Dash.” (You know, because of the laxatives they put in the food. Ick.)  I longed to be free of my meal plan, to cook my own food. And each year after my freshman year, I cooked more and more for myself. Sometimes it was tough, and sometimes it meant just having a sandwich, but I loved the freedom of planning my own meals, doing my own groceries, and, best of all, cooking and eating what felt right to me.

In law school, I was overjoyed to have my own kitchen for the first time.  I celebrated by cooking almost every single day – and by gaining almost 50 pounds. I managed to lose some of that weight by going on a diet and exercising, but my weight during law school was akin to a deranged yo-yo. Plus, I always felt like crap.

Feeling awful wasn’t a terribly new experience for me. My mother tells me I was a very colicky baby. I remember being tired all the time, yet I had difficulty sleeping. I always got irritable when I was hungry. I always had “allergies” – a stuffy nose and no sense of smell. I had frequent headaches and back pain, often every single day. I had indigestion, acid reflux, and my stomach made this loud (and very embarrassing) rumbling, churning noise after I ate a meal.

Each of these symptoms may sound trivial on its own. But add them all together, and it’s no wonder I felt like crap all the time. I learned not to complain because I thought it was normal. When I learned that the problem was gluten, I celebrated and mourned at the same time. I was thrilled that I finally felt good in my body. I was ecstatic that all those awful symptoms had finally gone away. But what would I eat?

Besides loving food, I’ve always loved to learn. So I decided to combine these two passions by learning everything there was to learn about cooking gluten-free. I devoured every book I could find. I subscribed to a ton of gluten free blgos. I tried every gluten free recipe I could find. I experimented.

But most of all, I ate. And I felt good.

I’m not here to tell you there’s a single path you must follow in life or in the kitchen. No. I’m here to tell you to think. To experiment. To try again when things go horribly wrong. To learn. And I’m here to share my gluten free journey with you. It might not always be about the food. Food nourishes and sustains life, brings people together, and has an incredible power to bring joy to us all. I want to share that with you. And I want to share all the other ups and downs with you too. So while I might talk about other things, I’ll be coming back to food again and again.

Thank you for sharing it with me!

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