I warn you. This post should be rated R [ Under 17 – requires an accompanying parent or adult guardian ], because of some of the material it contains.
First, a (not too) small background on the whys and wherefores of the Big Bone Operation.
I switched to a strict gluten-free diet after being diagnosed with Coeliac disease last December, and started to feel my energy picking up within a few weeks. Even though it was sad having to bid farewell to wheat bread for ever, I was motivated by the perspective of getting better, and genuinely excited at the challenge of a gluten-free diet, as it defies the very foundation of my eating and cooking. I had already experienced a major turning point in summer, when I eliminated all cow milk from my diet. The outcome was an incredible expansion of my tastes, knowledge and cookery skills. I started to eat – and like! – sheep and goat cheeses, I discovered the vast world of dairy alternatives – that are NOT soy based -, I started to make vegan milks and cheeses at home, and I enjoyed converting my trusted recipes to meet my new standards. Since a lot of manufactured goods contain, for some corrupted reason, dairy derivatives, I found myself spontaneously buying less ready-made goods in general, progressively withdrawing from the buzzing mainstream market.
In case you did not know, most commercial products contain to various degrees derivatives of wheat, corn, soy and milk – all in the official top 10 allergens; now isn’t that strange?…
This fascinating experience made me come to grips with the new gluten-free diet restriction with a surprisingly welcoming frame of mind. This unfamiliar cuisine expanded my horizons even more, taking the cookery experience to a whole new level. I couldn’t believe the transformation that was taking place, and looking back to my “old” self, I was amazed and proud to see I came such a long way. Not only was I doing most of my food preparation from scratch, pulling off milling, fermenting, sprouting or other supposedly preposterous activities… but I had also integrated so many foodstuffs I was previously uneasy with.
But there was still one last bastion to bring down, one last enemy I never ceased to loathe, for nearly 15 years: the Animal. As I wrote in a previous post, it was unthinkable for me, for the longest time, to eat any kind of meat that wasn’t camouflaged: I was sickened by the consistency of meat (biting into a muscle?!?), and could simply not bear the sight of tendons, arteries, gelatin, joints and bones. It was all too similar to our own human anatomy; and I guess I had a hard time overcoming such an analogy (I was 15 after all…). This loosened up a bit when, few years ago, my husband Diran made me settle on a “suspension of hostilities” towards meat. I would occasionally include it in my cooking, either minced or in chunks, but not necessarily eat it. Trips to the butcher were out of the question (I still crossed to the opposite sidewalk if I was to pass by a butcher on the street), hence I always bought my meat from supermarkets, where I could look at something else while they prepare it for me. As long I they handed me a sealed package, ready to just “dump in the pot” without further ado, I was ok with it.
But, things have changed. The Animal made a grand entrance into my life. Today, not only do I go full of confidence to our neighbourhood butcher (asking about each and every cutlet displayed in his fridge while he’s preparing my order), but have managed to embrace both meats and dairy in my kitchen. Making what I call “real deal hardcore stuff” like stocks, pâtés, cheeses or butter is becoming a standard in my food activity.
What drove me to this unbelievable leap is a rather peculiar diet I have discovered a little while back. When, several months into a strict gluten-free diet already, I saw only limited improvement in my health, I felt the urge to take a different course of action to heal. It became obvious that the mere avoidance of gluten would only keep my Coeliac inactive, but not reinstate my health. I was still suffering from persistent abdominal bloating and severe pains in all my body – amongst other things. When I went to see my osteopath about the pains, she stated that there was nothing wrong with my body on a “mechanical” level, and that my problem was undoubtedly a metabolic one. That is when I started to give the GAPS diet a serious though.
The GAPS diet is, let’s face it, one of the most radical eating protocols you could come across. “Extremist” may even be a better description, as it is a program that somewhat opposes conventional medical beliefs and mainstream credos regarding nutrition and health, in many respects. It is a diet that has been initially designed to address a number of psychological and psychiatric disorders, namely autism, ADD – ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. It puts forward the holistic concept of the body as a whole, emphasizing its own and natural ability to heal. Where this protocol is a subversive one is in the fact that it solely relies on diet therapy and excludes the use of drugs. It proposes to “heal” and not to “treat”, whereas modern medical practice – backed up by pharmaceutical giants – would throw you in a never-ending whirlpool where your condition is labelled as “lifelong” and you are doomed to eternal medication.
What does such a program has anything to do with me? Its very foundation states that the underlying problem causing most of our ailments reside in our gut. Unhealthy guts are the roots of the widespread disorders that are characteristic of our modern times, promoted by faulty diet, drug laden health care and environmental toxicity. Ever wondered about the incremental incidence of disorders of all sorts in developed countries during the past century? How often nowadays do you hear about cases of asthma, eating disorders, allergy, attention deficit disorder, irritable bowel syndrome or food intolerances – to name a few?
I will post more extensive articles about the GAPS diet itself, and will be sharing news about my experience following it. But for now, to understand what brings us to the Big Bone Operation, this is what you need to know: in order to heal damaged guts (which I badly need to do to effectively recover from the impairment caused by Coeliac), one needs to eat plenty of meat stock and bone broth daily. It is the staple food in the GAPS diet, as it aims to rebuild the damaged gut walls, mainly with animal proteins and fats.
And when I say plenty, I really mean PLENTY.
So it has become absolutely normal for me to COOK and EAT broths, and all the by-products of such a preparation. Animalis extractum. All happening in my kitchen…
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