In case you didn’t already know… Pudology was created out of a need. A need to enjoy food despite a dairy and egg intolerance. Since launching Pudology we’ve been championing events and causes that share that same ethos.
We’ve been a very active member of many groups and share mountains of self-help content on Twitter and Facebook to help the vegan, dairy, gluten, nut-free and coeliac people in the UK.
One of the big things we’re aiming for is the ability to still enjoy a meal out or at a dinner party despite an intolerance; we’ve seen some pretty great moves towards this thinking recently.
Holland and Barrett are leading the way for dining ‘in’ with a totally free-from store and finding a dairy or nut-free option is becoming easier when dining out too… but we’re not there yet.
We were delighted to hear this week that a coeliac, Janine Allen, was going to be on Come Dine With Me.
Can you imagine it? The brilliance of the infamous Dave Lamb commentating on the sheer task (and possible failures) of catering for the needs of a coeliac…
… but they didn’t.
In fact, although Janine did eat slightly different meals and was catered for as a coeliac, Channel 4 omitted to mention it.
We were very surprised by this and, as it turns out, so were the coeliac community on a Facebook group that we’re members of.
We caught up with Janine this week and found out what she thought happened and how she felt about the lack of mentions for her and her disease.
It was a prime opportunity to get some much-needed awareness for coeliacs everywhere but it just didn’t work out that way.
Here’s what Janine had to say…
Hi Janine. How long have you been coeliac?
I’ve been coeliac for 14 years now. I have a feeling it was triggered by the stress of having my son and splitting up with my ex-husband but who knows, maybe this was coincidence? I’ve struggled with intolerances ever since.
What do you struggle with when you eat out or go to dinner parties?
I really struggle with trusting people to not cross contaminate my food. I am so sensitive and I’m immediately ill after eating gluten.
It’s only recently that I’ve started to eat out again but I don’t venture far from home when I do.
If we go out for the day I tend to take a bag of crisps and that’s it till I’m home. I always do my homework before going to restaurants and hotels by emailing them first to make sure they are clued up on cooking gluten-free.
You were on Come Dine with Me on 25th May. What made you (a coeliac) decide to do this?
I decided to apply for Come Dine With Me firstly because I thought it would be a good laugh! [laughs.]
I can’t cook (my partner cooks in our house) I burn everything and we bicker in the kitchen because I’m impatient. So you could say this was a decision I made for him!
Anyway… I worried about doing it because of my coeliac disease (obviously) and wondered whether it would go for or against me.
I also wanted to overcome my fear of eating out. I don’t even eat at my parent’s house so my mum was shocked when I told her I’d applied!
I thought it would be good to show people out there that coeliac disease isn’t a fad as I could discuss it during our meals and also I’d be cooking totally gluten-free on our night so we’d surely highlight it more.
How hard was it for your fellow CDWM couples to cook for you?
I’m not really sure how the contestants felt when they were told they had to cook for a coeliac but Sara (one of the contestants) cooked me gluten-free spaghetti and went out of her way to create gluten-free desserts.
Shane and Russell didn’t go quite so far; they took my meatloaf starter out before adding breadcrumbs to the mixture and gave me cold stewed apples for dessert!
But I was able to eat everything that was served to me
What did they think of your meal when you cooked for them (was is all suitable for coeliacs?)
The stuffed peppers went down well (although Shane thought the rice had a funny consistency – whatever that means – and Russell didn’t like the pepper but liked the filling.)
We boiled the rice then fried it with onion, garlic, cinnamon and feta cheese, stuffed it in red pepper and baked them. Most of the contestants ate it and said it was very tasty.
The main course didn’t wow our competitors though. We tried to keep it simple with a Yorkshire theme and something a bit different to what is always on the show.
We served cheamy mash (potatoes mashed with garlic, Philadelphia cheese & chives and sour cream), gluten-free venison sausage with baby carrots, purple sprouting broccoli and red wine gravy jus.
Everyone the dessert but the biscuits were rock hard after being mixed with butter and left in the fridge to set for too long – Whoops!
It was suitable for all coeliacs and overall I don’t think it went against me too much. The dessert was a big winner.
What did you hope Channel 4 would show it?
I didn’t expect Channel 4 to labour the point that I was coeliac but it could’ve been mentioned. Surely the public must have wondered why on earth I was eating spaghetti (which would appear to be normal pasta) instead of homemade tortelini and why I was given stewed apples and no pastry?!
It did surprise me that it wasn’t mentioned because during interview I spoke about how sensitive to gluten I actually am and stressed the importance of the crew watching the other contestants every move to ensure I wasn’t ‘glutened’.
In the past, there have been vegetarians on the show and this was mentioned. Of course being vegetarian is often a choice unlike being coeliac.
Also, on our night, there was no mention of gluten-free sausage and gluten-free biscuits. I also commended Sara on the effort she went to making all gluten free desserts but they never showed this either.
Were you disappointed with the aired version of the show?
I wouldn’t say I was disappointed with the aired version of the show as I didn’t really know what to expect. I would say however that I was surprised and curious as to their reasoning for not mentioning coeliac disease when it steered so many of the menus.
How much was edited out about your dietary requirements and why do you think they did that?
Everything about my dietary requirements was edited out of the programme. I have no idea why but hopefully I will receive a reply from Channel 4 to an email I sent them this week.
Lots of things of course have to be edited out of shows like this though so maybe it was just that they couldn’t fit everything into an hour.
Since interviewing Janine, the shows creators have been in touch with her in response to her email:
“Thanks for your email, however due to the time constraints of a 45 min programme it was never guaranteed that your particular dietary situation would be discussed on the programme. Nevertheless, please be assured that we appreciate you taking the time to contact us and your complaint and comments have been logged and noted for the information of those responsible for our programming.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate all feedback from our viewers; complimentary or otherwise.”
Would you welcome a Come Dine With Me Coeliac special?
I would LOVE to see a Come Dine With Me coeliac special where everyone can be comfortable eating at other people’s houses! I feel at the moment though that this wouldn’t be of interest to the majority of the public though. What do you think?
Well there you go… straight from the coeliac’s mouth!
We’d love to know your thoughts on this. Did you see the show? Does it seem odd to edit out such a core part of the cooking for the show? Or is this more ‘entertainment’ as Janine puts it and less ‘educational’?
Please do leave us your comments below and if you know someone at Channel 4 who has anything to add please do send them over to us.