Going Gluten-FreeFebruary 16, 2010

A Very Gluten-Free Pleasant Surprise

Comments (7)

Posted by Oksana and Tom Charla

Not long ago, a friend told my wife and me about a gluten-free food show in a nearby town. Without knowing anything about it, other than the address, we packed up the kids and headed off.

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t know anything about this ‘food show’ beforehand, or I probably wouldn’t have gone. I work in marketing for a Fortune 500 company and things called ‘shows’ conjure up, for me, images of expansive convention halls featuring colorful and interactive product displays from hundreds of vendors.

This ‘food show,' on the other hand, was impossible to find (our GPS didn't help), occupied a single room in the basement of a church, and had less than 20 vendors set up on folding tables. This did not fit my vision of what a ‘food show’ should be. Yet it was one of the best ‘shows’ I have ever attended.

Of course, we were there for my son Mike, who has celiac disease. But you'd have thought we were there for me. Mike and I, with me leading, started on the left-hand side of the room and crisscrossed our way to the back, stopping at every table and sampling every offering.

Chili came first, followed by fresh French bread, and chicken noodle soup. We then each had a  slice of pizza and chased it down with a waffle smothered in maple syrup. Whoever planned the layout of the room was a genius, because when we got to the back and were ready for dessert, there it was: tables filled with cookies and cakes and other treats. Chocolate chip, sugar, and black and white cookies to our right. Layer cakes and cupcakes to our left. When we had our fill and identified our favorites, we returned to the front for another walk through the room.

On our second pass, we took our time and we chatted with the vendors. We found out where they were from and purchased their breads and pizzas and desserts. We were not surprised to find many vendors and bakers were long established, family-owned businesses, owned by entrepreneurs who had started with gluten-free products as a necessity that turned into a passion.

And it wasn’t just the vendors and their delicious food that made this ‘show’ one for the record books. It was the other people who attended, just like us, who came and discovered that bigger isn’t always better.