So, what is gluten-free, anyway?

There’s lots of buzz about “gluten-free” eating these days, and separate gluten-free restaurant menus are practically commonplace.  Though I do not follow a gluten-free diet (bread is my soul mate in food form, after all), I do have several close friends who have adopted, at a doctor’s recommendation, GF diets in recent years.  Through them, I have learned the woes of gluten-free restaurant dining.

So, what exactly is gluten-free, anyway?

Well, until recent years, “gluten” was a word few diners cared much about, let alone restaurant chefs and servers.  At its core, gluten is a protein composite generally found in foods containing wheat, rye, barley, malt, and other grains.  It’s gluten we have to thank for making dough rise and for providing airy structure to baked goods.

 Keste Pizza, NYC – photo by PHUDE-nyc

But it’s not all chewy bread and fluffy cakes–for a growing number of people, gluten consumption is the cause of intense intestinal discomfort.  While the degree of gluten intolerance varies drastically, the most severe form is celiac disease.

(continue reading on the Urbanspoon blog)

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