As a food editor, I think it's my job to be a die-hard proponent of eating everything, which means that I'm generally skeptical of diets and dietary fads and the people who jump on them.
I can't tell you how many vegan cookbooks I've tossed into the swag pile here at 7x7. Don't try to sell me on sugar substitutes, or carbless anything, or egg-white omelets or vodka made with green tea. I like whole milk, butter, bacon and whiskey. My only diet is moderation.
But try as I might, I can't ignore the gluten-free tsunami about to wash over me. Of course intolerances and allergies aren't trends—in fact, celiac disease is very real—but there is definitely a trendiness to the way they're exploited. One day, I'm vague as to what gluten really even is (a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat, rye and barley), and the next day every other item at Whole Foods is advertising being free of it. Tomatoes! Now gluten-free.
Things really got serious when I started getting chefs and cookbook authors going gluten-free. First, I got a press release saying that Thomas Keller is now selling his own gluten-free flour, Cup4Cup, available at Williams-Sonoma stores. I'll admit that this piqued my inner food-snob and I now have a sample of the flour sitting by by desk (definitely not in the swag pile). I will be trying it out soon and report back.
Then, a preview of Barbara Kafka's November-release cookbook The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food without Gluten & Lactose (Artisan) landed on my desk. It's now sitting next to the flour.
Finally, Tony's Napoletana Pizza in North Beach kindly sent me a sample of its new gluten-free pie, topped with arugula and cherry tomatoes. The crust itself—made with rice flour, tapioca flour, water, xantham gum, potato starch, salt and agave nectar—had a nice chew to it, and a definite crunch. I'm not going to say that it was the same as the gluten-full crust—it didn't blister and bubble in the same way—but it was definitely far more than tolerable. In fact, it was tasty.