Tag Archives: viewing party foods

Sprue Stories: The Oscars 2014 Edition (86th Academy Awards nominees gone gluten-free, with viewing party menu ideas)

Roll out the red carpet, because it’s time for a new Academy Award! The Oscars are this weekend, and I’ve been anticipating them with all the fervor you’d expect from someone who has only seen three of the nine Best Picture nominees (plus the animated shorts) and would be hard pressed to name one out of every twenty gown- or tux-clad stars walking that carpet on Sunday . . . but loves any opportunity to make a ton of themed snacks.

Oscars red carpet and stairs

Lovely, though my celiac-induced eyesight problems seem to be acting up again. (Yeah, it’s really a thing, though probably not for me.)
Photo © Rachel | Flickr

By the way, I’m a bit disappointed with the blogosphere this year. I didn’t expect much—only enough gluten-free, vegetarian, not-too-hard recipes inspired by the Oscars 2014 nominees to fill out my menu without me having to come up with anything brilliant on my own—but alas, everyone must be busy, I don’t know, watching movies. (I did find a punny list on Chowhound, and a not-very-special-diet-friendly set of menus on Epicurious.)

I don’t have a full menu plan for you either, but I do have what I’m sure you’ve been anticipating as eagerly as those incredibly overengineered and overpriced envelopes: the first annual Academy Award for Best Gluten-Free Picture.

The award, of course, recognizes the film best suited to being stuffed full of celiac in-jokes in a parody on my blog. It’s an honor few filmmakers will receive in the course of their career, primarily because I don’t watch enough movies.

The nominees, coincidentally, are identical to the Best Picture nominees. Cue the elaborate montage sequence, and let’s take a look. [Note: Light spoilers throughout.]


American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street, so far as I can tell from trailers, are the exact same movie. The lead characters in each would likely find their glitzy lifestyles somewhat curtailed by a celiac diagnosis. In other news, Jennifer Lawrence—nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in American Hustle—probably doesn’t have celiac disease, because her upper-intestine endoscopy came back clear, but she does get an award for being the celebrity most forthcoming about her bowel issues (with Tyra Banks as a close runner-up).


Gravity doesn’t have much to do with food—though as much as we gluten-free people may complain about our food options, they’re surely better than what astronauts get stuck with—but if you want to escape cross-contamination for good, your options are pretty limited to outer space.


Nebraska, I have a feeling, would be much more cheery if the main character had given up alcohol (and gluten) to take care of stomach problems earlier in life. He’d be happy enough to stay in his own state with gluten-free corn aplenty, and most of the movie would probably never have happened. 

[3/1 Edit: I started watching Nebraska last night and realized my skimming of the plot summary put me off track. The father’s not from Nebraka, but rather trying to escape his wheat-growing state of Montana to find refuge in the Cornhusk State. This would make the movie a neater fit for GF Best Picture, except that I disliked it so much I didn’t watch more than twenty minutes.]


Dallas Buyers Club focuses on AIDS, and although heavy, is certainly also “darkly humorous,” which is how I’m convincing myself it’s okay to include it in my roundup. In a GF rendition, Matthew McConaughey’s character would be told he had at least 14,600 days left to live, but 0 gluten left to eat. Facing the food options available to the gluten-free community in the eighties, he just might get involved in a risky scheme to smuggle gluten-free baked goods into the country from more enlightened locales. His desperate celiac fellows would literally eat it up.


Philomena is all about Ireland, and—as I’ve previously discussed—celiac disease is often (wrongly?) associated with the Emerald Isle. AIDS makes an appearance in this movie, too, but I am not about to compare celiac disease to AIDS, even if they are both autoimmune. However, if Phil’s son had turned out to have celiac disease instead, our plucky protagonist would have had a somewhat less exciting human interest story, and the movie a much happier ending.


12 Years a Slave—I haven’t seen this, but I know it’s another sad one. In the one food scene I’ve heard about, the main character Northup eats meat, johnnycake, and blackberries—and since johnnycake is often made entirely of cornmeal, that’s a naturally gluten-free meal. (Epicurious came through with a menu inspired by this scene, though with wheat flour in the johnnycakes. Way to ruin everything.)


Captain Phillips had a pretty tough time during the 2009 hijacking of his ship by Somali pirates. That said, like most things, getting kidnapped by pirates would definitely be even worse with celiac disease. Along with being terrified, wounded, and disoriented, you’d probably have a bad stomachache from the food scraps they gave you.


Her is my favorite for the win. I’ve seen it, for one thing, and for another, it’s obvious that the real reason Theodore and Catherine divorced was food. Theo went gluten-free, Catherine didn’t, and they grew apart. Happens all. The. Time. (All those sad, lonely meals we watch him eat in his living room? My celiac heart totally went out.)

Luckily, computers don’t need to eat, so Theodore was able to skip over the Gluten Free Singles stage of his life and start dating someone who suited him immediately. Yes, yes, I know there’s a scene where Samantha—his “girlfriend”—makes him get a slice of pizza, but come on. She’s an operating system. If anyone knows where to find wheat-free pizza by the slice, it’s her.


And the Oscar goes to . . . you tell me! Which of the Best Picture nominees have you seen, and which was your favorite?

large gold Oscars/Academy Awards statue on truck

This Oscars statue is recovering from a rather bad glutening. Hope he’ll be ready for the festivities.
Photo © Rachel | Flickr

Menuwise, Sprue Jr. and I are leaning towards a black and white theme (as in tuxedos, which make an appearance in several of the nominated films, not to mention in the live audience at the ceremony).

We’ll have chocolate-drizzled popcorn, black bean dip with white chips, white bean dip with black chips, and whatever else the spirit moves us to make—including, possibly, gluten-free black and white cookies a la Lisa Horel’s Nosh on This and my mom. I also really, really want to make these “evil nun” cake pops in honor of Philomena, but sis says they’d be too hard.

Are you hosting or attending a viewing party? What are you making?

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A feast fit for a gluten-free, vegetarian king (of the North)?

Jon-Snow-S3The other day, I tweeted “What #GameofThrones-themed snacks can I make that are #glutenfree and #vegetarian?”

No one replied.

Maybe that’s because my (many and adoring) Twitter followers don’t watch Game of Thrones. (What percentage of people following a gluten-free diet also follow Game of Thrones? A statistic worth investigating.) Maybe my question got lost in the evening Twitter rush. Or maybe people didn’t think it could be done.

Game of Thrones food is roughly based on medieval European cuisine. For most people, this calls to mind crusty loaves and legs of mutton—oh, and don’t forget the ale. Gluten-free vegetarian medieval food sounds almost oxymoronical. Throw in “Easter” as an additional theme and you’ve got yourself an impossibility, right?

Not exactly. Medieval cuisine might be linked in the modern imagination with meat and bread, but especially in tough times and among the lower classes, they weren’t as ubiquitous as we think.

Photo © Jakob van Santen | Flickr

Photo © Jakob van Santen | Flickr

Let’s start with meat. It wasn’t until the Black Death killed off most of Europe that meat became more available to commoners, because the shrunken labor force drove up wages and swathes of abandoned land became available for pasturing livestock. But in George R. R. Martin’s universe, so far as I can tell, there hasn’t been a plague precisely like the Black Death. The closest thing to it was the grey plague, a scourge that was successfully quarantined to a single city and therefore didn’t have as vast of an effect as the real-life plague. This suggests that at the time of telling, the majority of poorer people would have eaten mainly plant foods, not meat.

So medieval!

So medieval!

And gluten? Though grains made up much of the medieval diet, wheat was actually rather expensive. Barley, rye, buckwheat, millet, and oats were the most common choices (a couple of which are, as you know, gluten-free!). Plus, particularly after a lean harvest, it would have been common to use nut, pea, or bean flours along with grain flours to create bread. From there, it doesn’t require too much of a leap to get to the gluten-free flour blends of today. (Legumes, by the way, were not considered good for you, contrary to prevailing nutrition opinion today, which designates many former “peasant” foods as staples of a healthful diet.) Finally, although beer was a popular choice in this age of unfiltered water, wine was common, too, and that’s naturally gluten-free. (Plus vegetarian, as long as you choose a kind that wasn’t made using fish bladder…ew.)

A-Feast-of-Ice-Fire-Official-Game-of-Thrones-CookbookLike the medieval culture on which it is loosely based, the cuisine of Westeros does include gluten-free and plant-based options—enough, certainly, for a solid viewing party spread. Flipping through the contents of both the official and unofficial Game of Thrones cookbooks turns up lots of ideas: dried beans and nuts at the Wall, root cellar apples and veggies in the North, honeycomb from the Vale, leeks and greens from the lush Riverlands, stunning fruit desserts in the Reach, citrus and fiery spices in Dorne, and all of them coming together in the melting pot that is King’s Landing. I think I’ll pass on the fried locusts from across the Narrow Sea.

ed95_unofficial_game_of_thrones_cookbookWhat will I be making this Sunday? I’m not hosting the party, so I’ve got some conferring to do with the friend in charge. But I’ve put on my thinking cap (a warm one, since, you know, winter is coming). “Doran’s Favorite Chickpea Paste” sounds an awful lot like hummus, a classic GF-veg staple, and stuffed peppers and dates would please any palate, fantasy or modern-day. Throw in a cheese plate and some GF flatbread and you’ve pretty much got yourself a party. Oh, except for dessert. We’re considering hot-cross buns, which are vaguely medieval and perfect for Easter. There are some great GF recipes out there, and my new kitchen scale is just dying to pledge fealty to a proprietary GF blend. I am also tempted to try these hilarious (spoiler alert!) cake pops, but I’ll probably be too lazy.

Stay tuned and I’ll update you on the final menu sometime next week. In the meantime, know that you can be meat- and gluten-free in Westeros without being options-free. You just…might need to be a peasant. 

For this post, I sourced my medieval food facts from Wikipedia (which in turn sourced its info largely from Melitta Weiss Adamson’s Food in the Middle Ages, Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, and Food in Medieval Times). Though to give credit where credit’s really due, I’m pretty sure I heard most of it from my dad first (he blogs about food here). I pulled ideas for Sunday’s menu from the two books I linked to above and also wanted to call out the blog that spawned the official cookbook, Inn at the Crossroads, a must-read for fans of Game of Thrones and sustenance. Finally, I feel compelled here to admit that I have not read the books; I just watch the show. This runs contrary to all my media consumption principles, but those books are thick, and I keep pretty busy writing about gluten.

Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Any favorite foods from the series? Any other shows you’re excited for this season? Do you enjoy viewing parties and cooking themed menus, or do you consider your food restrictions theme enough? Alternatively, what have you got going on for Easter this weekend?

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