Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gluten Free at a Potluck: Planning for the Street Party

Tomorrow night is our annual street party.  The street gets shut down, the music gets blared, and everyone enjoys the last long weekend of summer as a community.  A couple of neighbours are responsible for purchasing the basics, and every family pitches in by bringing along a dish to share, potluck style. 

For someone with a food allergy or intolerance, this can pose some challenges. 

It's not practical to ask each and every family if there's gluten in their dish, because so often it's hidden in ingredients that one wouldn't automatically assume would contain it.  Just explaining what gluten is can be complicated to those not familiar with it.  Not to mention the cross-contamination issues.  It's not practical to supply several offerings myself, and it's rude to only prepare enough of a dish for my son to enjoy.

For an adult, abstaining from the offerings can be difficult, but manageable.  For a child, especially one who doesn't yet understand his limitations, this can be next to impossible. 

So, we're faced with a bit of a dilemma. 

Even if we feed him ahead of time, he's still going to want to eat, especially when he sees the other kids eating.  And while I don't mind discussing his food limitations with people, I don't want them to become the focus of the outing as we try and navigate the buffet. 

What's the plan?   I don't have it all figured out, but I have a few ideas in mind. 

First, I'm going to make some cupcakes or a cake as our official contribution.  Desserts are generally gluten filled minefields, and no kid can resist them.  At least with some yummy cupcakes available, he'll be able to indulge safely. 

Second, I'll ask the neighbours who organize the party if I can scope out the offerings ahead of time and put aside a plate for my son before the party gets started.  That way I can see what's safe and set some aside before any cross-contamination occurs.

Third, I'll probably bring along a main dish as well, on the off chance that there's NOTHING suitable for him to eat.

Fourth, I'll also keep a few safe snacks on hand that I can offer up if all else fails. 

I want my son to enjoy the party but also to stay safe and healthy, without being an overprotective, hovering mother. 

Here's to hoping!

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