Monday, January 05, 2015

Day 5 of Feminist Joys: Food and Friends

I wrote in yesterday’s post about my diet issues. For a long time after I discovered it, I used to feel embarrassed talking about it. And food is so fundamental to most social interactions that it often came up. I’ve even just taken a bit of food that I knew would be bad for me, just to avoid mentioning the issue. 

But it’s been a couple of years now, and I’m getting used to it. And I’m encouraged by the number of people who have been kind and accommodating. My friends have been amazing: remembering what I can’t or can’t eat and making sure I can eat what they are offering, and cooking around my preferences, and Chicu even made me a special birthday cake when we visited her and the Mian (think of a regular cake recipe that doesn’t involve gluten or dairy… it’s not easy). 

What’s more, colleagues and new friends at work — whom I naturally feel less of a claim over — have also been extremely sweet. My boss remembers what I eat and makes it a point to let me know when she brings in home-cooked food that I can eat. When we go to a restaurant together, she makes sure I find something safe, and encourages me to ask the waiter about the ingredients of a dish. Other colleagues who I meet rarely yet remember and ask if the restaurant we’ve agreed on for lunch will have enough options for me. 

One especially kind friend brings me back Lindt extra dark chocolate from Paris, because he remembers I can’t eat the regular chocolate he gets for everyone else. Another offers me chakli, and I ask if it has maida. He says no but walks back to his desk, calls his wife, who made it, and comes back to me to confirm it's safe for me to eat.

On my birthday, my team can’t manage to find a gluten-free, dairy-free cake to order for me, so they get an Indian sweet instead that fulfils the criteria, and I cut that like a cake. 

For someone who’s always been shy about speaking up for my comfort, of making waves, of standing out… all of this encouragement and warmth is particularly sweet.

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