A label-reading lesson from Hogwarts

3I’m here again to remind you that more than magic runs in the blood of J. K. Rowling’s wizarding folks. We talked about Moaning Myrtle last time, but let’s not forget our other prime celiac/allergy role model in Harrypotterland: Mad-Eye Moody.

This is a man who:

  • drinks from a personal flask rather than risking the dining hall pumpkin juice
  • drags around a magical trunk with seven locked compartments, one of which must be stuffed with Udi’s
  • has one magical eye that I’d wager can detect gluten down to 0 ppm
  • isn’t a stranger to skin issues
    . . . or mental issues
  • and, most importantly, knows the value of CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

All signs point to celiac.

Paranoia, double and triple checking, and intense suspicion of even the most innocuous-seeming thing may all be symptoms of paranoid personality disorder, but they’re also critical aspects of living free of gluten or food allergies. This past week, I learned anew the value of CONSTANT VIGILANCE after two separate sloppy errors:

  1. A few days ago, I bought a bag of salt & pepper pistachios from CVS. After eating a handful, I grabbed the bag in a panic to double check the ingredients, as I am wont to do, but this time, rather than resting easy that my first look was enough, I realized that though the optional “may contain” line didn’t list wheat, there were natural ingredients that I hadn’t queried. When I called Gold Emblem (the CVS grocery brand), a representative confirmed the pistachios were gluten-free. Still, I should know better than to eat it before I read it.
  2. Last night, I finished off a bag of popcorn kernels from Arrowhead Mills. Because I’ve been researching pure gluten-free dried beans recently without a ton of luck, it occurred to me to recheck this bag. Sure enough, no “gluten-free” symbol, which Arrowhead states it includes on products made on dedicated lines. I’ve eaten the popcorn over the course of months, simply assuming I must have done my research properly before I bought it. Apparently not. I have to wait till 9 to call their customer service line, but I’m kicking myself already.

If Mad-Eye were here, I know he’d be grumbling, “Elementary food safety, nobody bothers about it anymore.” I know, I know, Professor. Put me in detention, take points from Ravenclaw, but please, don’t let my popcorn have had gluten in it.

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19 thoughts on “A label-reading lesson from Hogwarts

  1. Dad says:

    Mom will be very interested in learning about what you find out…she’s off for her blood test this morning.

  2. Jeyna Grace says:

    I always wondered what Mad Eye was really like. Barty crouch jr disguised as him for so long, I’m not sure how the real moody is like.

    • Molly says:

      Good point! I’ve always just assumed “constant vigilance” was a standard phrase of the real Moody that Barty picked up.

  3. Anthony says:

    You would put yourself in Ravenclaw…

  4. Ethan says:

    How careful do you think you’d need to be in potions class? And how much of consumable magic in general do you think can satisfactorily be made gluten-free? All I can think of now is how once you get gluten in a cauldron or a beaker, you’re never going to get it out. Imagine, a Ravenclaw being denied access to an entire branch of magic just because of her dietary needs. ALTHOUGH Snape could probably whip up a celiac vaccine in like ten minutes with the stuff from his cabinet they’re always stealing ingredients from.

    Other issues to consider: Butterbeer?

    • Molly says:

      It doesn’t seem like the Three Broomsticks has done their GREAT training, so butterbeer might be out. I’m sure Hogwarts would be good about providing its students with gluten-free options, though. Though the staff doesn’t seem quite as afraid of lawsuits as educators here in the US…

      OMG, getting certified GF knotgrass and gillyweed must be so annoying!

  5. Laurie C says:

    If celiac is as under-diagnosed in the Wizard population as it is in Muggles, I guess you’re going to be able to find plenty of HP characters with celiac. But can you also do their astrological charts, while you’re at it? 😉

  6. Jess says:

    I bet that your popcorn is okay. I have yet to get sick from any plain corn kernels which I’ve popped at home and I am one of the unfortunate “super-sensitives.”
    I’d add in some Harry Potter reference if I could, but I am just for the 1st time in my life reading the series with my 7 year old, we just started the 2nd book and it is magical.
    Hope you’re feeling well and enjoying summer! I’m just catching up on the blogs now.

    • Molly says:

      I’m glad you’re getting to read the books with your 7-year-old! I just read that this is the 15th year since Harry Potter’s first US publication. Hard to believe it’s been that long…and so nice that people are still reading the books. 🙂

      I’m having a nice summer and hope you are too! Thanks for the reassurance about the popcorn.

  7. Molly, first off, I agree with Jess (fingers crossed, anyhow) and hope your popcorn and your popcorn cauldron are a-ok. Second, please continue to reference Harry Potter as much as possible because I love it so. Especially Moody. I definitely think Crouch Junior borrowed Constant Vigilance (my favorite HP expression) during the whole Polyjuice Potion episode. The real Moody does say it in the last book before half the Order turned into Harry Potter clones, if I remember correctly…

    And while I only know you through this cleverly written blog, I can totally see you in Ravenclaw. I have a sinking feeling I’d get shuffled into poor shlumpy Hufflepuff, though I’d try to convince the Sorting Hat that I had Gryffindor tendencies… Yeah, I could go on and on and dork myself out even more, but I’ll stop.

    • Molly says:

      “Constant vigilance” is way too good of a phrase for Crouch Jr. to have made up, for sure.

      Hufflepuff isn’t necessarily shlumpy! Cedric was pretty cool, after all. I think I’m not quite friendly enough for Hufflepuff, but not mean enough for Slytherin, and I’ve always thought Gryffindors are a bunch of jocks. I am definitely nerdy enough for Ravenclaw, though. Thus all the Harry Potter posts… 😛

  8. rachelmeeks says:

    This is awesome. I need to find a Potter Posterchild (or adult) for chronic pain.

    ….I guess HARRY is the obvious answer to that predicament. Aaaaand now I feel dumb, lol

    • Molly says:

      Ha! You’re right, Harry’s the perfect choice. I also think Prof. Lupus is a good one for anyone with something that “flares up” now and then (or, to go to the place of obviousness, lupus).

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