Shauna James Ahern likes loves is obsessed with food. Like so many of us she has had an on again, off again love affair with food for her entire life; always searching for the answer to what ailed her, and somehow knowing that it lay in right in front of her … on her plate. Yet, it wasn’t until Shauna was in her thirties that she discovered the culprit, Celiac Disease. While gluten had been the bond in so many of her memories, it turned out to be the very thing that was making her sick.
Gluten-Free Girl takes us through Shauna’s journey in life, moving forward, yet repeatedly looking back, until she found peace with herself and her diet. This unique book is part journal, part cookbook, and part romance documented in Shauna’s very passionate and poetic writing style. At times, she dwelled on points; at times she went a bit a bit overboard on the descriptive writing; but all in all, it was a very well written book that truly worked to relate to the reader.
This wasn’t a book that I picked up and couldn’t put down, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I found myself savoring it in the evenings, reading a chapter or less, until I felt quite fulfilled from the extensive imagery Shauna’s writing evoked. It wasn’t until the last few chapters, when the romance set in, that I was a bit too captivated to put the book down.
The way that Shauna incorporated recipes throughout the book was fascinating and ingenious. It wasn’t consistent, nor was there enough for me to label this as a cookbook specifically, but whenever it suited, a particular memory would be closed with a recipe like a precious gift to the reader. I loved this element of surprise and did my best to refrain from sneaking a peak at recipes in the chapters ahead. Plus, for this novice cook, each of Shauna’s recipes seemed to hold a surprise ingredient or process that added both intrigue and a gourmet touch. In fact, a cauliflower recipe (of all things) easily captured my attention (I won’t ruin the secret), and is one I plan to make as soon as the florets at my market are looking a bit more cheerful.
It should be mentioned that I do not have Celiac Disease myself, at least not to the best of my knowledge (it is said that most Celiacs are undiagnosed). However, that didn’t seem to matter. Living in this fast food nation, bombarded with autoimmune diseases, so many of us can relate first hand to Shauna’s struggles, whether or not gluten is our particular enemy. While there is no doubt that gluten-free foodies would get the absolute most out of Gluten-Free Girl, anyone who has found themselves thrust into a special diet will surely feel inspiration from Shauna’s writings. Plus, who doesn’t like a happy ending?
Special Note: This is not a dairy-free book, Shauna loves her cheese. However, the premise of this special diet story is well suited to anyone who would be reading this website. Plus, many of the recipes are in fact gluten-free / casein-free (or very easily adaptable), I plan to make several myself.