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Celiac Awareness-slash-Short Story Month

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Were you aware of this? I wasn't until my cousin Jennifer told me. She's a Celiac too. Did you know something like one in ten of us is? Both Jennifer and I are adorable, but that's not it. We both have a disease--yes, I used the D word--that makes it impossible for our intestines to deal with gluten. Gluten you say? Is that the sticky stuff in sticky rice? No -- although you'd be surprised how many people think it is.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, barley and (some say) oats. Which means Christopher and Jennifer -- do you think it has something to do with three-syllable names? -- can't eat conventional bread, pasta, pizza, etc. We also have to stay away from beer. In the meantime, a hundred companies have pounced on the gluten-free food industry, so we can eat gluten-free bread, pasta and pizza at extortionate prices. I should go cut myself a two-euro slice of gluten-free bread right now.

Eating gluten-free isn't easy. There are so many hidden sources of gluten in processed food these days. Thickeners, flavor enhancers and bottled sauces could all contain gluten. You actually have to call the company to ask exactly what "natural flavors" means. Protecting a company's secret ingredients is obviously more important than protecting the consumer's health. My rule: no "natural flavors" unless the label says GLUTEN-FREE and no foods with more than four ingredients (but I think this second one is only because my vision is so bad that I can't read the list of ingredients).

Part of I Must Be Off! for the last few years has been to help Gluten-free Travelers. I've told about my experiences in Nice, in London, in Bilbao. To see all my posts on Gluten-free Travel, click HERE.

It's also Short Story Month. You know, I think it's my month. I wonder if it's Expat month as well. For short story month, I'm reading three short story collections. This one by Julie Innis, this one by Tania Hershman (who I interviewed a couple of weeks ago) and this one by Sheldon Lee Compton.

If, however, you'd like to read one--or six--of my short stories in celebration of short story month, why not start with this one, or this one, or this one.

Also check out this growing list of recommended short stories at Flash Fiction Chronicles!

I hope we're all clear and aware now. No eating short stories unless the package clearly states "GLUTEN-FREE."

I must be off,



Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire). Allen writes fiction, creative non-fiction and of course this here blog. His work has appeared in numerous places both online and in print. Read more about him HERE.

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