I went to my favourite Toronto burger place for lunch today, and got a surprise. Their fabulous Big Guy 7oz juicy burger was now being advertised as Gluten Free. You’d have to be living under a rock these days not to know the term.
“Gluten Free” seems to be the big new diet fad, with great controversy. Like so many diet options, I have happily remained ignorant to what it all means. I know it means something to do with wheat or grain, but I really don’t know or care. To me, it seems the way the world interprets dietary needs, changes faster than the seasons. First eggs are good for you, then bad for you, then good for you again. One day were told to eat less sugar and then we find out the sugar substitutes cause cancer.
I’ve seen online debates about Gluten get mean. One day last year, people started almost randomly declaring they had gluten allergies, and stores and restaurants were quick to jump on the new bandwagon and offer specialty menu items catering to the elitist diet snobs. Low fast isn’t good enough for them. Suddenly they can’t tolerate gluten. At the same time, experts chimed in and vocally called them all liars. Only a very specific few people had real Gluten allergies, and have known about it their whole life. Everyone else just made it up. Maybe they liked the idea that it made them special. Somebody somewhere, must have said Gluten was bad for you, and the world reacted. Blogs and daytime TV can be bad for your health.
Gluten free exploded, like fat free did a decade before. Even Gluten Free chocolate became a thing. I ignored it all.
I’s already made up my mind, like I do with so many foods before I try them for the first time. Diet food is bland. If you’re taking something out of the food I love, it’s going to taste worse. In my experience, fat free Jell-O is horrible. Sugar free chocolate tastes odd. I fully understand and accept that the things that make my favourite tastes great, are the things that mean scientists keep telling me to avoid, or less experts on the Internet tell me. I wish everybody on Facebook would stop telling me the things I love are horrid – or worse, how they’re made. I don’t need to know.
When Fat Phills decided to go Gluten Free, I was afraid. They were not offering it as an option, like they did with their buns. It was the only way I could order lunch. The sign was clear; all our Burgers are now Gluten Free.
I asked Phill. He’s a great guy and sincerely loves talking to his customers. I trust what he tells me. Phill says that he removed the breadcrumbs from his Burgers. You may remember about breadcrumbs in burgers. Our moms used to do it too. Not so much as a filer, but as a binding agent to keep the raw beef from falling apart, which is especially important when grilling over an open flame like Fat Phills does. Without a binding agent, the burgers crumble.
What he was surprised to discover, was the happy side effect that they actually tasted better. By changing his binding to use a Gluten Free binding agent, the flavour of the juicy fat actually improved the burger. It seems obvious, but bread also absorbs the juicy juicy grease, making the burger a little dryer and less tasty. As I mentioned above, the grease is one of those deliciously evil things that add the flavour. Gluten free burgers were not bland, but actually an improvement.
So I suspect “Gluten Free” isn’t as bad as fat free after all. It might even make other things better too. I’m curious to see. I still believe sugar free is horrid, but maybe this is a bandwagon I’ll jump on too.
I will not however claim to be allergic.