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‘Gluten-Free Girl And The Chef’ – A Liveblogged Book Review

Today is a day like no other. Your life, quiet, stumbling like a small child in search of the truffles that have already been found by hogs. It will change today. It will change swiftly but it will feel endless, like a heartbeat between I love yous, or like the morning after you win a chili eating contest. Today you will breathe along with ‘Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef‘ by The Gluten-Free Girl Shauna Ahern, and also Daniel Ahern. I bring you this review as a gift. A gift from my heart to yours, because I love you all very much, and I enjoy reading books about healthy eating written by people who look about as healthy as a pan of Hamburger Helper. Yes. Let us begin.

The heart needs no more than an open mouthed picture to sustain its pulsing force of joy.

The heart needs no more than an open mouthed picture to sustain its pulsing force of joy.

First impressions: My breath catches. I slowly turn the pages knowing, yet not knowing, what lies ahead. Breathe

Introduction: Dancing In The Kitchen begins my journey of  pain. Shauna Ahern is being fed, her stomach and her soul, by Danny. He is the chef.

These hands not only touch Shauna's supple love oven, they touch your food. Love is everywhere.

These hands not only touch Shauna’s supple love oven, they lovingly touch your food. Love is everywhere.

He cooks  for Shauna, at midnight, after work, for months. He produces from his love encrusted fingernails an endless buffet of lamb chops and beef tenderloin and rich soups. Shauna declares “Thank goodness we were in the first throes of love  and spent much of our time in other physical activity”, probably on a bed of gluten-free baked eggs. It is important that you know they have lots and lots of sex, and don’t worry, she doesn’t let you forget it.

Why Is This Book Gluten-Free? talks about how Chef Danny decides to turn his restaurant gluten-free and replaces normal ingredients with Shauna Safe ingredients. This decision is a decision he decided himself (all by himself, Shauna stresses this) as he breathed in Shauna’s lifeforce, which presumably smells like quinoa. Now sailing on the river of forced menu creativity, his tapioca flour powered boat took him to new lands of food where he could “give people joy in the belly”.

Shauna learns to create food alongside her Chef, making pumpkin soups “when the air was crisp and the leaves were falling from the trees”. But there is no happiness outside their kitchen. The entire world, evil, dark, full of gluten, is trying to murder Shauna by daring to feed other non-Shauna customers. Cross-contamination you guys. She could literally possibly die from poop exhaustion or something. So Shauna and the Chef now bring their own food everywhere so they can sit at your cafe tables and safely consume belly joys.

That First Bite continues the gurgling about the greatest love of all time. They met via an “internet dating service”, it was “love at first sight”. Chef Danny was filled with “simmering optimism” because Shauna’s picture had made him feel “the primal tug”. THE PRIMAL TUG. THE PRIMAL TUG.

Oh my God that phrase will haunt my life.

On their second date he kissed her, “late in the afternoon after a wine tasting”, and she remembers the feel of his hand on her leg while she ate pork belly. She was “falling, deeply smitten, stirring him into my life” but she was worried because what if he “couldn’t cook beans?” But Chef could cook beans, beans that “felt crisp against my teeth” but “softness oozed out”. She “swallowed, my eyes still closed, but in pleasure this time”. She includes a recipe for oozing pleasure beans on the next page.

She then starts blabbering about The Foods We Used To Woo Each Other, which is an excuse for her to mention that they are having a ton of sex and then oversleeping, making them late for the bus “again”, and she remembers “nuzzling into him…our eyes sleepy, and I was clutching leftover soup”. Which leads her to talk about Grocery Shopping As Foreplay. In case you forgot, they are super in love and having lots of sex. They walk around with their hands in each others’ pockets which is something that should stop after high school. She goes off on a weird tangent about how Chef loves country music, and country love songs make her cry. We learn that Danny, A Chef, had never been grocery shopping before he met Shauna. Da fuq? Doesn’t he like…run a restaurant?

Watching Him Cook is yet another opportunity to remind you they have sex. Apparently when they met neither of them had a car, so Chef would take the bus to her house after work. But sometimes they “couldn’t stand it” so he would race over in a cab, and “when he came through the door of the house, he kissed  me. (We’ll skip the next part.)” At this point they finally just moved in together so they could eat and sex all the time without the extra bus rides.

Yes to love, yes to life, yes to eating more bagels.

Yes to love, yes to life, yes to not talking about Chef sex.

She talks about how they threw bacon parties and then she presents a recipe for wrapping bacon around other pork. Then The Gluten-Free Girl And The Chef Get Hitched And Run Off To Italy comes along to remind us (in case we forgot) that they are DTF at all non-eating moments. She says a marriage “should start with three days in the bedroom”. She claims most Italians suffer from celiac so she knew she’d be fine on honeymoon in Italy because Italians “make the best gluten free food in the world”. She was able to eat “safely and well” there and wants to know wtf America can’t serve her safely like Italy does. Because Feeding Shauna is a matter of national urgency and importance, people.

Waking Up Hungry is a chance for Shauna to talk about how they eat breakfast. They eat eggs. But sometimes pancakes. Other times waffles. THRILLING STUFF.

Rising, hungry, craving a feast. Behold this week's Book Club cocktail.

Rising, hungry, craving a feast. Behold this week’s Book Club cocktail.

This segues into What’s Cooking Today? in which Shauna continues to ramble on about breakfast, saying sometimes they just drink coffee and don’t talk, unless it’s about food. Because their “love of food is expansive and insatiable, the way we love each other”. So I guess they’re still having all the sex all the time. What this has to do with a recipe for pickled apples I don’t know, but reading it made my soul feel safely bored, but then again, so has the rest of this book.

Now they are Running Food Errands. At the spice marts, the world’s most sex-having chef since Anthony Bourdain rubs spices on Shauna’s lips and kisses her, which she likens to forcing herself to “walk around the house with my eyes closed to imagine what it it might be like to be blind”. Shauna explains that she and the Chef are not ‘foodies’ or ‘gourmets’ (and the obvious award goes to…) but that making food with expensive fancy ingredients “is like having sex that leaves you breathless” as opposed to a quickie. They know all about sex because they have it a lot, you see. And nothing says ‘sexy food times’ like filthy fingers on your raw chicken.

Salmonella is not evil, just another passenger on the train of your love food, hitching rides on your cuticles.

Salmonella is not evil, just another passenger on the train of your love food, hitching rides on your cuticles.

His First Hours Alone starts off telling us how Chef Danny and Shauna drive together, majestical sunshine streaming, sometimes no sun but other sensation description requiring weather types, perhaps fog or rain. She gets him to work and he shoots out of the car after kissing her “deeply” and jaunts off to go play with his piles of dead fish or something. Shauna then goes and gets him super sugary coffee (because they are not foodies) and then brings it to him while he is trying to get his day at work started. She’s just there up in his junk, trying to make out with him some more because she doesn’t want to say goodbye. So now you know she’s THAT kind of spouse. Ugh. But let her make it up to you with this revolting pile of crab, avocado, and cucumber she calls a ‘salad’ recipe.

With Cheese Plate we learn nothing can “interrupt us from our eyes-locked-in-love-with-each-other-talking” except an 18 wheeler full of cheese. She spends the next few paragraphs talking about how much she loves cheese, making the lactose intolerant reader feel very unsafe, for which she apologizes. She says she loves to think about where cheese comes from, because “every bite of food we eat comes with stories”. If prepared by Chef Danny, it may also come with under-nail spices. She includes a recipe for gluten-free crackers.

Italian band-aids are gluten-free.

Italian band-aids are gluten-free.

There’s A Gluten-Free Table is all about Chef Danny switching from French cooking to gluten-free fare at his restaurant after Shauna was unsafely fed breadcrumbs at his hand. She tells us her filthy fingered sexlord is so amazing at gluten-free food that people will plan their vacations around making sure they can have a meal at his place. Because they will be fed. Safely. Then she lists all the ways she cannot eat food. If a crouton touches her salad, she can’t eat it. If someone’s hands touch a crouton and then touch her salad bowl, she can’t function for half a week. Basically it’s just more of Shauna’s nonstop “they’re making me eat AIDS burgers” omg mah safety dramatics. But it’s ok because the Chef says all GOOD food is gluten-free anyway. So he can continue to “give people joy in the belly”, a phrase they can’t seem to repeat enough.

We now grow into the feminism filled Plates Coming Back. Apparently the Chef experiences agonies of butthurt if a diner sends a plate back with any morsel of food left. You see, when he’s not having sex with Shauna, he is trying really hard to plate your food nicely. He refuses to decorate with sauce dots because they are “prissy”. He then huffs about how wasteful it is to serve restaurant patrons portions large enough to satisfy them, because they’ll just eat like hungry people and not take the time to taste every bite of his tiny portions. And also if you keep them hungry they’ll keep ordering more food! And anyway, when he’s emocheffing about the one plate that came back with food on it Shauna reminds him it was probably just some chick on a date who probably didn’t order dessert either. Wait, wut? She follows with a recipe for cassoulet, a rare and hard to find dish that is very Frawnch.

Sweetness At The End Of The Evening is more of Chef Danny moping around because some people don’t order dessert. Apparently he calls Shauna “from the restaurant sometimes, to complain that the desserts aren’t selling.” “I just don’t understand it when people don’t order dessert,” he pouts, apparently counting it as a character flaw if you don’t care for sweets or multi-course dining. You see, Danny tells Shauna, he loves “that sweet, satisfying taste at the end of the meal…almost as much as kissing you”. Because they are very in love, remember?

Burnt Garlic is another soft core bodice ripper that has little if anything to do with food. It starts off with the non-gourmets agreeing there’s like, LITRUHLY nothing worse than burnt garlic in food. Then it immediately goes into Shauna talking about how when she goes to pick him up from work they are “ecstatic to see each other after ten hours apart” even though he “starts complaining after a quick kiss” because #cheflife is hard. She then shares a roasted garlic and white bean spread, because nothing says oozing love story like garlic and beans.

Meals At Midnight has Shauna telling us that Chef Danny was “so lonely before he met me…almost forty, he didn’t know if he would find someone…” but now Shauna likes to have a home-cooked meal “waiting for him at the end of his long night”. She splooshes about how none of her romantic fantasies “comes close to capturing it” and there are no earthly words for her amazing love. It is a love that is fully captured one Valentine’s Day, when Chef brings her home a pickled cabbage and shushes her, saying “Just eat it.” She “settled into bed and lay my head upon his chest…and fed him pickled cabbage”.

Finally the nightmare ends with Sweet And Savory, Mixed Together, and at this point I’m just hoping the chapter title is referring to food. It is not. It talks about seeing “the little tadpole swimming in waters deep” in her body – apparently about her pregnancy. Chef is “uncannily good at loving me” but doesn’t really know Shauna completely. Soon she has the baby and Chef quits his job to write cookbooks with Shauna. Then there is a recipe for smoked-salt caramel ice cream, and blessedly, with heart growing full at the prospect of the freedom that awaits, I close the book and smile, knowingly, at the can of lighter fluid on the shelf nearby. Yes, my heart says. Imagine.

Overview: This was so stunningly abysmal I couldn’t even come up with anything witty for this post. Just the fact that I made it through these pages is enough for me to award myself the Congressional Medal of WTF Is Wrong With Your LIfe Choices, but I think I’ll dig out the holidays-only bottle of Hendrick’s and go breathe a basil cucumber martini. For the next 2 days.

Baconcat says "See ya next time!"

Baconcat says “See ya next time!”