Semper Mix Med Fiber (aka “On Swedish Bread and British Healthcare Part I”)

On the Twitosphere recently we were discussing the merits of blogs versus online databases of restaurants and products. I think we concluded that whilst it is nice to have one stop shop resources such as Live Gluten Free as a reference guide, blogs offer a chance to hear the voices of the coeliac community; and if you have read Gluten Free B before, you will have noticed that I don’t so much review things as have rants or potted philophising sessions inspired by them. I’m not sure my particular brand of cyber-narcissism fits in the Coeliac UK venue guide! The food is just a muse for a whole host of ramblings, and the blog is mainly an excuse to eat cake.

So it was that a Swedish loaf of bread got me thinking about gluten free prescriptions for Coeliacs. Allow me to explain. The best loaf of bread that has ever come out of my bread machine came from a packet of Glutafin mix. My (uneducated) theory on this is that this fluffy, crusty farmhouse wonder that did oh-so-well with a strong cheddar and home-made chutney was a result of the inclusion of codex wheat starch in the ingredients. Later tasting wheat-containing Fria bread gave credibility to this theory. Wheat starch is the special sauce that makes my loaves resemble the gluter-stuff rather than anaemic crumbly bricks. So why am I still persisting in the quest for a good bap? Because, dear readers, most Glutafin products are prescription-only. And in fact I have not yet found a consumer brand of gluten free bread that contains wheat starch – presumably to enable these products to widen their market appeal to the wheat-free as well as the gluten-free. So far so many soggy brick-cakes in the Kenwood.

“But B, you’re a fully paid-up celeriac!” I hear you exclaim, “how can it be that you don’t get your weekly case of Glutafin when you had to go through tubes being put in unmentionable places while you garbled incoherent diazepam-induced nonsense at your husband?”. The answer is that my GP, like an increasing number amidst the Hate Mail scare stories*, won’t prescribe it for me. They have judged that the abundance of calorific free from chocolate biccies in my local Waitrose means that there is no business case to provide me with a decent loaf as I can feed myself quite well without one. I’ll come back to this in part two of my post, but that explains why I was scrabbling around like a very middle-class hobo on my knees in a Swedish grocer trying to translate “Hvetestivelse” with my iPhone.

Luckily I came up trumps as I found a range of products from Semper at a fairly reasonable price. My major achievement of translating ‘fiber’ (fibre) and the bread picture on the front saw me gleefully dumping the mix in my bread machine against the best advice of the deciphered Nordic recipe; and coming out with a pretty nice crusty grainy loaf with nary so much as a crumb. A little on the cakey side, but more like an ‘artisan’ loaf than a full on sponge. I only wish the bread machine came with a ‘sliced’ setting as my sandwich today is slightly more ‘breeze block’ than ‘door step’ in proportions. Sweden 1 – 0 NHS. More credibility to the wheat starch theory, another destination for me on the weekly shop and yet more ammo for the “please can we go on holiday to Sweden?” discussion!

Part 2 will cover my thoughts on gluten free prescribing.

GF Nom-ability: 7/10

*click at your own risk

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