Going “G-Free:” The Karagöz puppets freak at the idea of gluten-free bread

Baguettes artesanas

Baguettes artesanas (Photo credit: Frabisa)

It is an understatement to say that I have always loved bread. The one thing I can remember most about growing up, especially in my maternal grandparents house, was that bread and butter were to be served at every meal…not to mention snacktime as well. (I can hear Karagöz saying “damn straight!” which means he’s picked up the somewhat sarcastic Yankee-ism meaning “that’s right!”).

As a child, I can remember cutting thick slices of Italian bread with the red painted serated knife, and using the same knife to slather that bread with wavy coverings of ricotta cheese that I then adorned with green olives pushed into the slushy cheese. I would devour my odd creations right there on the cool gray marble top of the pantry in the afternoon when all were napping as hot July wins blew around Granny’s house.


All images from here down in this post are from “Gluten Free Gourmet” and “Gluten Free Girl” on Facebook

This was my favorite secret snack – WAY better than just bread and butter. I always left my grandmother wondering where those grocery items had vanished to and usually made my mother crazy as she was the one who cooked manicotti shells with ricotta filling. But, somehow this food stealing usually fell under the Granny radar as she usually had a second loaf and many more jars of olives to fill in for the missing items.

20130629-144327.jpgBread was such a key part of our life that my father often did an impression of my Grandfather’s Scots’ brogue that involved a very guttural commentary on “bread and butter.” Given all of this, marrying a Turkish person was no problem when it came to the need for ekmek (bread) at every meal – although no butter need apply as far as he is concerned (all the better for our heart health, falan filan). As our courtship dragged on ambled on, I remember my mother making extra sure to have bread on the dinner table as a way to welcome M. into the family, with something familiar on the table, even if we were eating potatoes or rice or some other kind of starchy food that would usually negate the offering of bread.

20130629-144320.jpgAnd, of course, in thinking of Turkey, I cannot think of a Turkish table that does not include bread. It seems to me and has likely been written that there is a slightly different bread in every village in Turkey. And they each take pride in their particular version of bread.

20130629-144333.jpgSo, of course, given all of the above the worship of bread continued in my Turkish American relationship. But as I have experienced worsening medical problems over the last year, I have now been advised by three different doctors to make the move to a gluten-free diet. In shorthand, this is referred to as “G – free.” And it makes me shiver down deep into my bread-filled bones.

Today, when I send a message out on my Facebook account asking for advice on how to start going G – free, the puppets really began to protest. One by one, they worked themselves up into such a whirling dervish frenzy that they passed out cold on the floor.

20130629-144340.jpg“Life without bread,” the dizzy little chorus of dancing lady puppets murmured from their swooning woozy horizontal state, “well, it’s just NOT ok!!” Forget Kenne, the Queen of Manners and the Maintenance of Ladylike Behavior puppet, she had already fainted upon her stalwart statement that the idea of NO bread, well, “it’s just NOT done.”

I let them engage in their groaning, moaning and rolling around on the floor. I had already engaged in the same behavior at the thought of no bread or pasta and everything else that being G-free implies (no Bulgar, no couscous, no miso soup, no soy sauce). I just hadn’t let the moaning and groaning manifest in rolling around the floor writing in the emotional bread trauma pain in quite the same way as the puppets who live in my brain.

20130629-144346.jpgAnd then Mercan Bey, who you will recall is the Arabian spice trader puppet, walked into the apartment and started to set things straight. Clapping his hands together, he called on the puppets to get their act together:

“Puppets! All is not lost. I have traveled far and wide and have found many alternatives to wheat, rye and Barley…and here are some delicious options for you to try, M’lady, see, for example, these lovely photos posted throughout this blog entry showing DELICIOUS BAKED ITEMS and note, for example, that Saveur Magazine has luscious-looking gluten-free dessert recipes!”

He promises to return with more information. As for me, I’m about to join the puppets on the floor, kicking and screaming and moaning and groaning – even if it will make me feel better. It just looks like too much fun. 🙂


This entry was posted in Cross-cultural learning moments, Turkish Food!, Visits from the Karagöz puppets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Going “G-Free:” The Karagöz puppets freak at the idea of gluten-free bread

  1. Turklish says:

    Hi Liz,

    I’m sorry to hear about your health problems. I too have taken a break from blogging to refocus on my health and major lifestyle changes, plus our two weddings left no time for anything else. I’ve been gluten and dairy free for almost 3 months now and I’ve had to eat very restrictively for the past month, which unfortunately lined up exactly with our weddings, hosting guests from Turkey and our honeymoon. I was very worried about it and thought it would be near impossible to follow such a crazy diet while travelling. I can say after almost a month in Turkey and two weeks traveling here – all has been fine! I can share some more recipes and tips when I’m not typing from my phone 🙂 for now I can suggest one cookbook that has been amazing for me – its called “the healthy gluten free life” the recipes are all gluten and dairy free and most have soy and egg free options as well. The brownies and pancakes are amazing and the gluten free chicken noodle soup is very easy and light. I know it’s a big shift, but I can honestly say I feel so much better now! My Turkish husband hasn’t give up bread yet, but I think he’s coming around to the idea 😉
    Best of Luck,

  2. Alan says:

    my abla is in the same boat diet-wise – it’s a tough call. Be happy exploring the alternatives 🙂

  3. Rosamond says:

    My condolences to you on your loss off original bread. I know it will be heartbreaking to carry on without it but with time i am sure you will adjust. Your memories of ‘Original bread ‘ will never leave but inshallah you can find some form of happiness with g-free bread.

  4. Oh my dear, I have always thought the best smell in the world is fresh-baked bread. But nowadays there are so many G-free offerings, and some are so delicious. I’ve known amazing stories of recovery of health by people who made this switch. And I will hope for many recipes from you that all of us can try! The people I have known, who range in age from 10 to 70, have all needed about three months to experience full results, but have all bloomed on this diet –

  5. Oh dear, Liz, sorry to hear about your health problems. My husband was diagnosed with celiac disease about 8 years ago and has been on a g-free diet ever since. Fear not – there are many g-free options these days in the U.S. – more than when H. first was diagnosed. Amanda at Marocmama.com has g-free recipes and my kaynana here in Turkey has even figured out g-free work-arounds for some of my husband’s favorite Turkish dishes. She made lokma with g-free flour I brought from the U.S. We even had g-free borek this morning! This week we plan to try out g-free baklava at one of the famous baklava places in Istanbul. I’m skeptical about how g-free baklava will taste but MarocMama has made it and swears it was good.

  6. MamiNgwa says:

    Did you jump in full force or are you cutting back slowy?

  7. lizcameron says:

    Hi Shannon, I am jumping in full force because I am desperate to eliminate some particularly difficult symptoms… We are exploring different types of gluten-free pasta to see which we like the best. We love the Udi’s Brand bread which is really delicious. It isn’t as overwhelming as I thought. Also, I’m using Polenta, essentially grits – but also the stuff and sausage one that you can fry up. Wishing you all the best on this!

  8. lizcameron says:

    Hi Justine, it is so good to hear from you! I am also thrilled to see all of this very promising information. All my husband keeps saying is, we’ll never find anything that is gluten-free in Turkey! Well, either it’s a business niche or things are developing… But I am also seeing the workaround possibilities. Your message gives me lots of help! Best, Liz

  9. lizcameron says:

    Dear Nancy, I could not agree with you more about the smell of fresh-baked bread! However, your kind words and observations bring me some relief as I face all this. I really appreciate the information and support! Love, Liz

  10. lizcameron says:

    Dear Rosamond,

    Thank you so much for your kind wishes! Check out Justine’s comments above – looks like there is some hope for gluten-free cooking in Turkey!

    Best, Liz

  11. lizcameron says:

    I am focusing on being happy exploring the alternatives! So far we found a really good pasta substitute and a delicious cinnamon raisin bread – I mean truly really delicious. Phew!!!

  12. lizcameron says:

    It is so good to hear from you! I am going to order that book right away. But first, most importantly, congratulations on your nuptials. I am sure it has been a busy and interesting time and I can’t wait to read all about it. You also have given me a lot of hope about the potential to remain gluten-free in Turkey. I’m sure we can put together some good posts between us on Turkish food and G free living!!!! Best, Liz

  13. MamiNgwa says:

    Reblogged this on Keepin' My Head Above Water and commented:
    This is an issue I have been exploring given my long history with eczema and my son’s diagnosis with asthma and his reoccurring eczema. Gluten-free is difficult I understand….

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hi Liz, I think M. is in Istanbul righ now, yes? If so, tell him to bring you some g-free baklava from Gulloglu (sorry, no Turkish on my iPhone) in Kadikoy. Hakki tried it this week and, while it is as good as regular baklava, it was tasty enough for his gluten-starved taste buds.

  15. katmcdaniel says:

    Sorry to read about your health, but hope the gluten free diet will help. I just went gluten free last October and it has been wonderful for me. I was having a great deal of weird and seemingly unrelated symptoms and they have all been dropping off since I quit, except when I get exposed. Then it knocks me down for a while. I was a bread-aholic, but don’t even crave it much anymore. If you are looking for a good bread mix and good pasta I would recommend Schär (they also make ridiculous chocolate hazelnut bars, so yummy!). Let me know if there are any questions you have, I would be happy to help. Glad you are back to writing!

  16. katmcdaniel says:

    P.S. Domata gluten free flour is really great. My husband loves it, too. You can substitute it anywhere you would use regular all purpose flour. It makes great breading and doesn’t burn as quickly.

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