Today, a gluten-free diet is no longer just for yummy mummies, or those with a gluten sensitivity. Even if you’re not suffering from coeliac disease, studies have shown that if you eat too much bread, you’ll tend to feel more bloated and sluggish – and no one wants to feel that way.
Gluten-free cuisine is growing in popularity, and a lot of it comes down to our evolving relationship with food. We’ve gone from looking at food as a means of solely feeding our stomachs, to travelling in search of it, to now creating a whole lifestyle around it. We’ve become more savvy about reading food labels and educating ourselves about nutrition – be it through online research, social media or watching documentaries – and looking at what we consume daily as the source and cure for any and all ailments.
“There’s still a stigma that gluten-free equals boring, but it doesn’t have to be. It just takes the right chef and some out-of-the-box thinking”
According to online statistics portal Statista, the global gluten-free market is set to grow from US$4.26 billion in 2016 to US$7.38 billion in 2021. In the United Kingdom, the Guardian reports that one in 10 people avoid gluten altogether. Furthermore, the gluten- free industry has benefited from endorsements from sporting stars such as tennis champion Novak Djokovic.
Now we’re finally seeing more gluten-free options on the market. Look at plant-based restaurants such as Farmacy in London and Le Potager de Charlotte in Paris, for example. They have creative menus with a modern take that offer diners who opt for a gluten-free lifestyle a good selection of dishes to choose from.
There’s still a stigma that gluten-free equals boring, but it doesn’t have to be. It just takes the right chef and some out-of-the-box thinking. In Paris, I met a Franco-Japanese chef who served me pan-fried pigs’ ears with a beautiful charred texture. Tapioca flour is an incredibly versatile ingredient as well; in Brazil, I tasted the most delicious tapioca flour pancakes, which were sticky, chewy and just like regular pancakes. And at our gluten-free restaurant, The Butcher’s Wife in the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, we use chestnut flour for pasta, so diners aren’t deprived of the ultimate comfort meal.
With food, your body will be the best indicator of what works and what doesn’t. The most important thing is to find a dietary style that you enjoy. Life should be fun, passionate and full of good things, and going gluten-free shouldn’t have to be a punishment.
Illustrations by Studio Takeuma
This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine