Just when you thought you were safe…
Green shoots were beginning to sprout in the rice paddies. Bright sunshine and a pleasant breeze welcomed a day promising to deliver good times. Spring is an exciting time when cookouts and barbecues become a favorite diversion of many a person regardless of culture; good company, good fun, and good food rule the day. A short bicycle journey brought us to the park on the river where a cookout was planned. Plenty of meat and vegetables were sizzling on the grill and beer was whetting the throats of many an adult. I declined beer but accepted some meat and vegetables.
…an invisible attacker sneaks in.
I discovered about two years ago that I am gluten intolerant. (See below) While I am not quite celiac, the same diligence and care needs to taken when selecting foods. Constant awareness needs to be exercised to keep the dread commodity at bay, but sometimes that awareness slips and your guard drops.
Engaging conversation, good food, and oodles of children running around playing were but a few of the pleasantries. Time passed: we played on the teeter-totter with a bunch of kids, climbed trees, searched for treasure, and played a Korean gesture game kind of like rock, paper, scissors! ohhhh… suddenly I don’t feel so good. At that moment, I look up and see a can of beer poured onto meat cooking on the grill. Comical, to say the least. Meat + Wheat additive = Pain
Two of the safest foods to eat are plain meat and vegetables. I knew meat and vegetables were coming. What I didn’t notice earlier was that beer was being used to cook with. It makes sense; beer has always been used as a meat tenderizer and flavor enhancer at any cookout, why would one in Japan be any different? It wasn’t. The funny thing about gluten is that it takes time to impact the body; it isn’t like other allergies where an immediate reaction is experienced.
At this point it was too late to do anything. I had already ingested my share of gluten and my body was telling me it was too much. The next step was to invent a graceful method of escape before the pain became unreasonable and triggered an… awkward experience. We said our goodbyes and I rushed home; lesson firmly rooted.
(Gluten intolerance, or its more extreme cousin, celiac, is at its most basic an allergy to the gluten found in wheat, which is a ubiquitous commodity that has burrowed its way into many products. The body of a person with gluten intolerance or celiac doesn’t know what to do with gluten so it attacks it much like it would attack an invading virus. The resulting attack causes a variety of discomforts and may cause serious damage to the GI track. Well-known gluten foods are breads, noodles, and beer. Less-known gluten foods are most sauces, caramel coloring, some vinegars, soy sauce, nearly any processed food, and just about anything you find in a convenience store.)