Why is Texas so gluten free friendly?

We are going to Dallas in late September for a family related event. Unlike for most people, a trip where someone else chooses the location is fairly stressful for those of use with Celiac. So I started scouring the internet looking for any and all info I could find about dining out in Dallas gluten free. Then I remembered there is a gluten free Bed & Breakfast called Chicken Paradise in San Antonio (that's their pool below). Mmmm....it's just a few hours drive to Dallas from San Antonio. It took some convincing but I talked my husband into letting us make a detour on the way to Dallas. I booked two nights in San Antonio and two in Dallas. We used reward airline tickets which might have vanished soon otherwise. By my own creative accounting methods, that savings more than pays for the B&B, rental car and gas to get to Dallas...lol!
As usual, I turned to the Celiac listserv to for help about where to eat in San Antonio and Dallas. Soon after sending my request into cyberspace, I was inundated with tips from people in all parts of Texas - and some who just travel there - about where and even what to eat during our trip. I'll wait until we get back to post about said places as I don't want to recommend any place we havn't actually dined at yet.

But here is what I found very strange about Texas. There are three restaurants within several hours of each other that are either completely gluten free or about 98% gluten free. Another place in Dallas offers daily gluten free desserts made by a pastry Chef who studied at the Cordon Bleu. I mean where is all this coming from? There is not a Celiac center in the whole state that I'm aware of. Please correct me if I'm wrong. The fact that these places exist anywhere in the US is amazing, of course. But to find them in Texas of all places...quite perplexing. I don't remember being told of any 100% gluten free restaurant in NYC and the gluten free bakery there actually uses spelt in about half their goods. So in other words, in NYC there is not even a 100% gluten free bakery, let alone a gluten free restaurant. In Texas there are at least two such places. One of the places my listmates informed me about is in Austin and they do have at least one non gluten free granola. The other two places are gluten free cafes that are bakeries as well.

I really can't imagine walking in to a restaurant and checking out the menu and not having to worry about what is or isn't gluten free. I simply can't put myself in that frame of mind. It will take me being there to really understand what that means. How that feels. One menu lists crab cakes, chicken fingers, french fries, onion rings, fried catfish....the offerings are more extensive than I could dream up. It's simply unbelieveable to me. One listmate suggested that I really study the menus online right before the trip so I won't be tempted to over order, as most people do the first time they visit such a gluten free nirvana. Very good advice.

Another listmate suggested that the catered affair we'll be attending in Dallas will not likely offer me any dessert, though the hotel staff did assure me the Chef can make us gluten free meals for said event. The listmate sugested that I get some gluten free cake (at a cafe we'll visit that day) and put the cake container into a gift bag and keep it under our table. When dessert is served I can ask for a plate and discreetly as possible put my cake on the plate and enjoy dessert right along with everyone at our table. How smart is that? I've done similar things in the past, but never at such a formal event. Of course, if I'm surprised with a dessert that is NOT ice cream, my 'smuggled in' cake will keep for the following day.

So if any of you know why Texas is such a trendsetter in the gluten free world, please let me know. Dr. Kenneth Fine is based in Texas and believes that as much as 20% of the population can't digest gluten properly. That is many more people than the 1% of us that have bonafide Celiac. Maybe his teachings have something to do with Texas' gluten free friendliness. Or maybe like everything else, Texans like to do things big and this is just another example of that. Either way, I can absolutely not wait to get there. I just hope I don't want to move there after the trip!


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