Salad

Let Them Eat Cake

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We’re off to a big birthday bash tonight. Apart from the torrential rain, and slippery mud roads, I’m quite looking forward to a party. With everyone living in their own far flung spot of the African bush, it’s great to get together and just have a blast. Because there are so many of us bush babies around it’s considered fair for everyone to bring along a dessert or salad. This is also brilliant for those sweet-toothed souls among us who could very easily end up with twenty different puds on their plates. Bliss!

For me though, things tend to be a little more complicated with my Celiac disease. This is a severe allergy to gluten in all of its forms. If someone with Celiac ingests gluten they get very sick. The body’s immune system attacks itself, and the damage to the gut each time you slip up takes about a year to repair. You could also find yourself pushing up daisies if your inner bits rupture. Always a possibility. Anyway. Enough of the internal organ talk.

People are always lovely about this odd illness, and go out of their way to ply you with gluten free goodies. Considering that this particular nasty lurks in everything from whisky, soy sauce, malt vinegar, to liquorice allsorts, the chances of the old belly getting away unscathed are pretty unlikely. After too many of these slips, I generally cart my own food to parties, unless I’m pretty sure that the hostess is properly clued up on the gluten front. Not eating meat in general doesn’t help matters. I don’t usually eat at all after three in the afternoon either, so the requisite salad is normally the way to go. A bit of interesting salad and lots of sweets, and I’ve done my duty, and can nibble on something so as to not make people uncomfortable with me not munching away with them. It really is true that people don’t like eating when someone’s lurking around not doing the same. So the salad scam usually works out fairly well.

Today though, I thought I would toss Nigella’s advice about sticking to what you know, and try something really original in the salad department. After a couple of hours of painstakingly preparing each element, I tossed everything together, safe in the knowledge that any sort of veg has to be great with a bit of olive oil and balsamic. Well. I have to encourage those more adventurous of my friends never to mix together beetroot, wilted spinach and frizzled baby aubergine. Unless you have people coming around that you really don’t want ever to return. The oil and vinegar only made it worse. As did the pile of pepper, and seven cloves of crushed garlic, that I was pretty sure would not only save it, but elevate it to Gordon Ramsay heights. It is a truly terrible thing. There’s no time now to start again now, so I’ll just take it along in a bowl I don’t mind losing, furtively place it somewhere out of the way, and waffle a lot about my gluten free almond cake, pineapple and coconut trifle. Another experiment, but not too bad at all. I just hope I can keep a straight face if some poor unsuspecting guy fancies a bit of the salad from hell.

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