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GLUTEN! What the Hell Is That? A Trip Unveiling the Mystery of This Legendary Substance (or Is It the New SUV of Toyota?)

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It’s already few months that the word GLUTEN has become popular in Jakarta.

Almost every day there is someone that talks to me about gluten and gluten-free food. It seems to be a trend now here. It seems that, especially celebrities and upper class people (100% women! I’ve never heard a man pronouncing the word Gluten), are interested in gluten-free food, they consume it, they recommend it to their friends and they spread the gospel of this amazing diet.

But what is GLUTEN?

I actually did a small survey about that among my followers on Twitter and Facebook and among my friends and i realised that there are A LOT of confusions around it. Do you know what gluten is and what is a gluten-free diet? According to my experience most of Indonesian people, even the high educated ones, don’t know a shit about that although they have heard about it.

This is some of the answers i collected:

– Gluten is a kind of wheat

– Gluten is a sugar inside rice

– Gluten is a surrogate of meat, a kind of substitution of chicken and fish for vegetarians

– Gluten is a protein that can be removed from food after fermentation

-I t’s a food for vegetarians similar to the meat, in taste

-I  know it’s something related to food but i don’t know anything else about that

– It’s a bad ass evil guy in the anime “Naruto” (i added this one because it’s funny)

Go, Naruto! Kick Gluten's ass like he deserves!

Go, Naruto! Kick Gluten’s ass like he deserves!

Well, some people guessed it right too or, at least, they went close to the truth, maybe thanks to Wikipedia.

Let me start telling you that I have studied nutrition. I’m not a nutritionist but as a chef i had to study about that and i did it a lot. I have to know the composition of the food, i have to know about proteins, carbohydrates, fats and all the rest. I have studied the chemistry of the food and the biochemistry at university.

When i was in Italy i also attended a course about gluten and gluten-free diet and i have a certificate to state that. So you can trust me, i know what i’m talking about.

Gluten is a protein. It’s a simple protein (yes, it’s not a kind of poison) that is contained in some cereals, in most of them, actually. It’s contained in the wheat but not in the rice, for example, and it’s a very important component of the flour especially for baked products such as bread and pizza, for technical reasons that i won’t explain in this article. So if it’s just a protein, and we know that proteins are good and an important nutrient for our body, why do some people decide to have a gluten-free diet?

Gluten started to become popular after the discovery of a disease in the population: the celiac disease. The celiacs (people affected by the celiac disease) are gluten intolerant, it means that they can’t digest the gluten. It causes them some problems. They don’t die, don’t worry. Their intestine can’t absorb the gluten and it gives them diarrhea, belly pain and, in general they feel bad and sick (this is the easiest way to put it down, ok? But it’s a bit more complicated). Some people find out to be celiac when they are already adults, some of them live eating gluten for many years, going through a lot of liquid shit, before they are diagnosed with the disease. The celiacs should not eat gluten.

What gluten does to celiacs or mie ayam bakso di warung to me.

What gluten does to celiacs or mie ayam bakso di warung to me.

If you are not celiac you can digest the gluten like any other protein and for your intestine it’s harmless, it doesn’t cause you any disease or any problems. So the point is: are you celiac?

If the answer is YES, i’m sorry for you and unfortunately, you have to follow a gluten-free diet. If the answer is NO, this problem doesn’t absolutely touch you.

If you don’t know that, go do a test, but only if you have these symptoms. Do you feel bad when you eat cookies (or any other baked products)? Does your belly hurt every time you have a pizza with your friends? Do you have a chronic diarrhea? Do you kentut terus? If this is your case go to a doctor and ask to make a test for the celiac disease. Otherwise don’t worry about the gluten and eat whatever you feel like eating.

Only a low percentage of the world population is celiac but the number is growing. I’m not celiac. Lika is not celiac. My parents, my sisters, my kids are not celiac… Out of the hundreds people i know, i have only 2 friends who are celiacs and they both follow a gluten-free diet.

Now, I have heard people saying that they eat gluten-free food because it’s healthier. This is absolutely wrong. The presence of gluten doesn’t make a food unhealthy! It’s healthier (it’s rather an obligation) only if you are celiac, if you have that disease, otherwise it doesn’t make any difference (but it’s trendy, right? Also Gwyneth Paltrow does it! It’s cool!). Only celiacs should have a gluten-free diet, the rest of the population doesn’t have to worry about that (but of course you can stop eating gluten, if you want, it’s your choice).

Don’t make a fool of yourself, don’t spend more money to eat something that doesn’t affect your life, don’t be trapped into the marketing and the trends. In few words… Don’t be stupid. Unfortunately there are a lot of articles and advertisements that gives disinformation about gluten and they drive people to believe that a gluten-free diet is better for your body and health, which is completely wrong.

Gluten is not a poison, it’s not a chemical ingredient that the cruel food companies put inside your food to kill you (it’s not even a surrogate of meat for vegetarians like some of my followers said). It’s something 100% natural, it’s a protein like many others, naturally contained in some cereals.

It might shock you, but gluten doesn't look like this under a microscope.

It might shock you, but gluten doesn’t look like this under a microscope.

I think we all agree if i say that, i don’t know… The pork lard is not that healthy, right? Full of cholesterol… Well it’s totally gluten-free. What about the “Foie Gras” (fat duck liver)? it’s not too healthy either but it’s 100% gluten-free as well. Do you know gulai kambing or sate gajih? They are both gluten-free food but not that healthy. There’s no link between gluten and healthy food.

Maybe no one told you but you eat gluten-free food very often without even knowing it.

Let me list some of the very common food in Indonesia that are gluten-free:

– Steamed white rice (yes, nasi putih is gluten-free)

– Nasi goreng

– Roasted chicken

– Bubur ayam

– Gado gado

– Milk

– Sate ayam

– Sate padang

– Nasi uduk

– Cheese

– Any kind of vegetables and meat

And many many others. Generally speaking, all the food that doesn’t contain flour (especially wheat flour) is gluten-free, because gluten is contained only in some cereals (but not in rice).

This, instead, is a short list of some the most common food that contains gluten:

– Pasta (there’s also gluten-free pasta for celiacs made from corn. It sucks, actually)

– Lasagne

– Pizza

– Indomie

– Mie goreng (but not bihun, that’s from rice flour, right? Correct me if i’m wrong)

– Biscuits (unless they use alternative “gluten-free” flours)

– Bread (unless it’s made using some “gluten-free” cereals)

– Cakes

– Croissant

– Donuts

In general all the food which has flour in the ingredients (unless it’s a gluten-free flour like the rice flour) contains gluten. Is it less healthy? Absolutely not!

"Why bother looking for gluten-free cakes? I'm gluten-free too!" (Photo by flexmedia.co.id)

“Why bother looking for gluten-free cakes? I’m gluten-free too!”
(Photo by flexmedia.co.id)

I saw people posting picts of gluten-free cakes on social media telling that it’s a healthy alternative to a normal cake. They went through the whole cake, eating it all without any regrets because in their mind gluten-free means healthy so there’s nothing to worry about, they can finish it. Actually the difference between a gluten-free cake and a normal cake is only the flour, that’s it. There is still sugar, eggs and all the other ingredients you use to make a cake, just the flour doesn’t contain that protein.

So, do you want to have your gluten-free meal? Get a nasi goreng or a roasted chicken! Get a steak. It’s gluten-free. But after all, unless you are celiac, for you it doesn’t make a difference…. and you know what? Talking about food I’m getting hungry, i wanna go to have lunch. Who knows if in the food court upstairs they have “Sate Gluten” or “Gluten Goreng” with a gluten free jasmine hot tea

Catch you up, guys, comment and share, if you like.

Matteo

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Getting A Tattoo: How Painful Can It Be?

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First of all, I would like to warn you that I am not a tattoo artists, tattoo experts, nor am I a woman with 200 tattoos on my body. To be honest I had just got my first tattoo 3 months ago. But weeks before I went for my appointment, I went online everyday to do a research about all things tattoo, especially on how painful it would be. So here I am writing, so that you can somewhat find this blog through Google when you’re nervous and freaking out, minutes before you leave the house to go to the tattoo studio.

So “how painful is getting a tattoo?” was the very subject I was most obsessed with. As a tattoo virgin, you have absolutely no clue on how painful it would be. Yes, some people say getting a tattoo is going to hurt. But how hurt can it be? And most importantly, what kind of hurt? Is it like a slice? Is it like a stab? What should I expect?

My very first tattoo, one minuter after it was done.

My very first tattoo, one minuter after it was done.

Let me ask you girls one thing: have you ever had a brazilian wax? Yes? Well, THAT hurts! Compared to that torture, getting a tattoo is nothing! I remember I was really nervous when I parked my butt on the chair seconds away from getting my first tattoo, my hands were cold, and I felt scared mostly because I didn’t know what to expect (especially when a friend had said the night before, ‘it won’t hurt! it’s just gonna be like someone poke you with the tip of a knife’ and I was like ‘what the fuck? you think being poked by the tip of a knife doesn’t hurt?!?!). So I just closed my eyes, prepared myself for the worst, took a deep breath, then suddenly I felt tickled. Wait, what? Yes, tickled. I don’t know if it was maybe because I had expected a somewhat severe pain that when the needle started working on my skin it didn’t feel that painful to me, or was it because it was not THAT painful, but my first impression upon having an electrical needle gun poking under my skin was more of a tickle than a torture. It’s a little like getting your eyebrows threaded, but in loooong strokes and for long hours.

Of course after 1 minute I started to make faces and clenched my fists because after a while it did become painful, and in some areas it hurt more, but if I have to rate the pain of getting a tattoo, from 1-10 I would give it a four (4). Of course it all depends on which body part you will be tattooed, how long you will have to be under the needle (mine was done for 45 minutes, but a friend of mine spent 4,5 hours for her first tattoo) and how the design is. I got my first one on my back, a little below my shoulder. It was one of those places that hurts less. Matt got one on his side neck and he said it was so painful that he had to tell the artist to stop for a little while. So I suggest for a first timer just pick a place with thicker skin, or on the area where you have thicker fat, not directly on top of a bone. Miami Ink has a “map” of which body parts hurts more and which ones hurt less. You can check it here.

If you’re still freaked out, try this trick I did. Well it’s not actually a trick, it’s more of a “mental exercise”. Just think about Justin Bieber, or Miley Cyrus, or those other little kids that has several tattoos on their body. If kids and pussies can do it, well hey! It can’t hurt that much, right?!

Lika