Are you aware of celiac disease? You are? Good. I sort of figured if you were reading this here blog you probably had some inkling. And I am pretty aware of it, too. But when I saw that the Celiac Awareness Tour was making a stop in Chicago in October, I pretty much knew I was going to nab tickets. Because I love expos, and expo-like things, and the swag that usually comes with them. So I wrangled up my mom and dad to go with me, and we braved the nasty weather to check out some gluten-free delightfulness. You'll remember that back in April, I went to the Gluten-Free/Allergy-Free Expo, which was completely nutty and packed with people before the doors even opened, so I was expecting much of the same for the Celiac Awareness Tour, but when we got there at 9:15 (doors opened at 9 a.m.), it was pretty much just us, vendors and staff. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. The biggest advantage was that I could actually stop and have a conversation with vendors, which was really, really nice. The disadvantage? Fewer people got to check out all the great information that was presented.
When we walked in, Eve Becker of Gluten Free Nosh was giving a presentation about the basics of the GF lifestyle, and while it was all territory I've pretty much covered on my own, it was nice for my parents to get to hear all that jazz from someone who is not me. We also got to see a cooking demo from Chef Jean-Rene Renusson of Savory Foods. He made a delicious tomato tortilla soup that was to. die. for. It was gluten free, dairy free and vegan, and even my dad (who considers a sleeve of Double Stuff Oreos dinner some days) loved it. But even better than the soup (barely) was Chef Renusson's explanation about how his kitchens (which manufacture both gluten-full and gluten-free products) are cleaned in between runs. It put a little perspective on the always-scary notion of "shared facility." I also nabbed some of his herbed flatbread and frozen cookie dough to sample.
Though there were certainly fewer vendors that at April's event, the folks that were there were enthusiastic to feed us. There were loads of samples, and I got to connect with my friends from Sweet Ali's again. I even got to try some falafel from a local restaurant. It wasn't a waste of a day by any means, I was just expecting a bigger event. Kudos to the folks who organize the tour, because they're doing good work. It was also nice to get to spend the day with my parents, getting to show them some of the things I love, and giving them a little more insight into what this crazy disease means.