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In Memory of Bread: A Memoir

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When Paul Graham was suddenly diagnosed with a serious wheat allergy at the age of thirty-six, he was forced to say goodbye to traditional pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and more. Gone, too, were some of his favorite hobbies, including brewing beer with a buddy and gorging on his wife’s homemade breads. Struggling to understand why he and so many others had become allergic to w When Paul Graham was suddenly diagnosed with a serious wheat allergy at the age of thirty-six, he was forced to say goodbye to traditional pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and more. Gone, too, were some of his favorite hobbies, including brewing beer with a buddy and gorging on his wife’s homemade breads. Struggling to understand why he and so many others had become allergic to wheat, barley, rye, oats, and other dietary staples, Graham researched the production of modern wheat and learned that not only has the grain been altered from ancestral varieties but it’s also commonly added to thousands of processed foods.      In writing that is effortless and engaging, Paul explores why incidence of the disease is on the rise while also grappling with an identity crisis—given that all his favorite pastimes involved wheat in some form. His honest, unflinching, and at times humorous journey towards health and acceptance makes an inspiring read.


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When Paul Graham was suddenly diagnosed with a serious wheat allergy at the age of thirty-six, he was forced to say goodbye to traditional pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and more. Gone, too, were some of his favorite hobbies, including brewing beer with a buddy and gorging on his wife’s homemade breads. Struggling to understand why he and so many others had become allergic to w When Paul Graham was suddenly diagnosed with a serious wheat allergy at the age of thirty-six, he was forced to say goodbye to traditional pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and more. Gone, too, were some of his favorite hobbies, including brewing beer with a buddy and gorging on his wife’s homemade breads. Struggling to understand why he and so many others had become allergic to wheat, barley, rye, oats, and other dietary staples, Graham researched the production of modern wheat and learned that not only has the grain been altered from ancestral varieties but it’s also commonly added to thousands of processed foods.      In writing that is effortless and engaging, Paul explores why incidence of the disease is on the rise while also grappling with an identity crisis—given that all his favorite pastimes involved wheat in some form. His honest, unflinching, and at times humorous journey towards health and acceptance makes an inspiring read.

30 review for In Memory of Bread: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Karen R

    A good friend of mine was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. I was aware of some restrictions for those with gluten intolerance, but had no idea the extent of the sacrifice. If diet is not changed, there can be serious neurological consequences such as diabetes, MS, epileptic seizures, dementia. Author Paul Graham is a major foodie. His connection and love for food resonates throughout the book. When severe illness and a diagnosis of celiac disease changed his life forever, the comfortable A good friend of mine was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. I was aware of some restrictions for those with gluten intolerance, but had no idea the extent of the sacrifice. If diet is not changed, there can be serious neurological consequences such as diabetes, MS, epileptic seizures, dementia. Author Paul Graham is a major foodie. His connection and love for food resonates throughout the book. When severe illness and a diagnosis of celiac disease changed his life forever, the comfortable favorites had to go away and discovery of a new path to great eats became his obsession. Wheat and grains were poison to his system. Giving up gluten was like losing a good friend, Paul says and he laments its’ loss repeatedly. The pastas and breads he and his wife religiously made were now a menace to his health. Out went the pasta and bread machines along with many gastronomic favorites. I commend his wife, someone who had no intolerance to gluten, who joined him in solidarity. I was surprised to find she suffered physical and chemical symptoms during her own gluten withdrawal. Following this couple as they explored the uncharted waters, the often-distasteful sea of gluten-free options and science of food was fascinating. The story is very well written and appears an emotional one for Paul. Some of the physical, social and emotional changes were unexpected and surprising. Luckily for Paul and others out there suffering with this disease, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The author’s non-wavering long-term determination to create meals full of flavor using healthy ingredients, his experimentation with foods/breads/beers and his exhaustive efforts doing research are truly inspirational. His words have inspired me to make significant changes in my own diet; back to whole-foods simplicity and away from gluten/processed foods. I admit I was quick to judge those who have jumped on today’s trendy gluten-free bandwagon, but there is something to be said for going back to non-processed whole-foods. His story was eye awakening and I have a whole new perspective. Thanks to the publisher for providing an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I was really excited to read this book because, as I’ve mentioned before, I recently found out that I’m gluten intolerant so the topic hit close to home for me. It was such a nice feeling to read about someone else struggling with the idea of never eating bread again, and Paul Graham’s writing is the perfect balance between the seriousness of a food intolerance, research into the gluten industry, and at times, humor. It was like group therapy for the gluten intolerant people of the world, and I I was really excited to read this book because, as I’ve mentioned before, I recently found out that I’m gluten intolerant so the topic hit close to home for me. It was such a nice feeling to read about someone else struggling with the idea of never eating bread again, and Paul Graham’s writing is the perfect balance between the seriousness of a food intolerance, research into the gluten industry, and at times, humor. It was like group therapy for the gluten intolerant people of the world, and I felt that it both educated and comforted me to know that someone else out there misses bread just as much as I do. I think you have to be gluten free to understand the inexplicable anger that strikes sometimes when you walk past a bakery in the morning and can smell the bread and it feels like the world is taunting you with delicious scents. Usually, if I mention this to anyone I know, they tell me to “just have one” or “it won’t kill you.” Well, no, it probably won’t kill me, but it will put me in severe discomfort for anywhere from 12-72 hours, and a breadstick just isn’t worth that agony. I think anyone with a gluten issue should read this book because it says the things that you’re thinking and teaches you a bit more about gluten overall, but anyone who knows someone with a gluten sensitivity should also read this book to learn what it’s like for us and have a better understanding of this food allergy. There’s a misconception now that nobody needs to exclude gluten because gluten free has become a diet trend in Hollywood. While some people do use it as a diet, there are plenty of people in this world, myself and Paul Graham included, who would have some serious health problems if we “just eat one” of the gluten-filled foods we still sometimes crave, and this book helps to illustrate the how, why, and where do I go from here questions surrounding gluten. *Disclaimer* I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This book taps into an emotional aspect of gluten-free living that I haven't encountered in books before, but that is very real. Graham talks about going through a grieving process when he had to give up gluten. When you go gluten-free as a medical necessity rather than a lifestyle choice, there is a sense of loss, a sense that you no longer have control over what you will choose to put on the table. Food, says Graham, is more than what fuels our bodies. It is also a way we connect with people a This book taps into an emotional aspect of gluten-free living that I haven't encountered in books before, but that is very real. Graham talks about going through a grieving process when he had to give up gluten. When you go gluten-free as a medical necessity rather than a lifestyle choice, there is a sense of loss, a sense that you no longer have control over what you will choose to put on the table. Food, says Graham, is more than what fuels our bodies. It is also a way we connect with people and with our history. When we can no longer eat the recipes that have been handed down through our family or enjoy a favorite meal with friends--when we have to eat differently from everyone else at the table and can't relate to their experience of the food at hand--we feel disconnected. I can relate to this grieving process. It's not about the food. It's about feeling left out of the birthday celebration or after-game activities or Grandma's famous peach cobbler. It's about broken connections. Even when the people around us do their best to support and include, there is still that sense of "other"--of knowing that while they can cheat if they want, we can't. Graham walks us through his journey to reconciliation with his condition, and in the process we learn a lot about where our food comes from, why wheat is so important to our culture, and how we can take steps to fill the gaping holes left behind when it is suddenly hacked out of our diet. Worth the read, especially if you have celiac or another medical gluten sensitivity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    It was an interesting read for anyone interested in not only celiac disease, but also gluten-free diets, and the history of wheat/breads and their role in our culture. The book also, among other topics, addressed how pesticides, food additives and other toxins play a role in disturbing our body's ability to process gluten and questions why so many people have been diagnosed with such ailments in the past five to ten years.. It was an interesting read for anyone interested in not only celiac disease, but also gluten-free diets, and the history of wheat/breads and their role in our culture. The book also, among other topics, addressed how pesticides, food additives and other toxins play a role in disturbing our body's ability to process gluten and questions why so many people have been diagnosed with such ailments in the past five to ten years..

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marilee

    In this perfectly titled book, Paul Graham tells the story of his diagnosis of Celiac Disease and how it changed his life. I so get this book. I was diagnosed with Celiac 17 years ago. I understand exactly how he felt, how he still feels. It's an alienating disease. Eating around others can be awkward, even dangerous. And the loss you feel at not being able to eat certain things: real bread, real doughnuts, pasta that doesn't look gray and mushy. All that being said, I found the author snobby an In this perfectly titled book, Paul Graham tells the story of his diagnosis of Celiac Disease and how it changed his life. I so get this book. I was diagnosed with Celiac 17 years ago. I understand exactly how he felt, how he still feels. It's an alienating disease. Eating around others can be awkward, even dangerous. And the loss you feel at not being able to eat certain things: real bread, real doughnuts, pasta that doesn't look gray and mushy. All that being said, I found the author snobby and whiny. There were times that I just wanted smack him and tell him to suck it up. I have other medical conditions that make celiac feel like a walk in the park. Celiac is my afterthought, "Oh yeah, and I have Celiac, too." I would love to only have Celiac. This book is definitely for people who have CD or have loved ones who do, or for people who are genuinely interested in a look at what life is like when you are diagnosed with CD. One other note: His wife, Bec, is the first spouse I've ever heard of going completely gluten free as a show of solidarity. I would never let Bryan do that, but kudos to her for the dedication. A little nutty, but impressive.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    As a fellow celiac (diagnosed around the same time as the author, 2012) my story of diagnosis wasn't very similar, but the aftermath of his diagnosis really resonated with me. A celiac diagnosis causes initial relief to finally have a cause for symptoms, but the diet causes it's own grief, steep learning curve and eventually acceptance or some level of détente. I do feel fortunate after reading this book that I've never enjoyed beer so that was no sense of loss for me that the author went throug As a fellow celiac (diagnosed around the same time as the author, 2012) my story of diagnosis wasn't very similar, but the aftermath of his diagnosis really resonated with me. A celiac diagnosis causes initial relief to finally have a cause for symptoms, but the diet causes it's own grief, steep learning curve and eventually acceptance or some level of détente. I do feel fortunate after reading this book that I've never enjoyed beer so that was no sense of loss for me that the author went through. It has taken years but I've realized that while I'd give anything to go back to eating wheat, I can live with this disease. He seems to have come to the same conclusion. This disease can be isolating since you can no longer partake in something as basic as eating in the same way, so it is nice to read a well-written book to empathize with someone else going through the same journey.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sofija

    I appreciate Graham's research and commitment to gluten and wheat. As a homemade bread baker and homemade pasta-maker, I can appreciate his sacrifice of his nostalgic and favorite foods (including his home-brewed beer) for his very life and health. It wouldn't be easy at all. What I'm not crazy about is how he repeatedly mentions his privileges (middle class, educated, access to a variety of real and healthy food, time to create real and healthy food). He does, on a couple of occasions, acknowle I appreciate Graham's research and commitment to gluten and wheat. As a homemade bread baker and homemade pasta-maker, I can appreciate his sacrifice of his nostalgic and favorite foods (including his home-brewed beer) for his very life and health. It wouldn't be easy at all. What I'm not crazy about is how he repeatedly mentions his privileges (middle class, educated, access to a variety of real and healthy food, time to create real and healthy food). He does, on a couple of occasions, acknowledge his privileges which gives him a bit of a redeeming quality. But I still found his repeated mention of his privileges annoying. He poses the question about what folks with less means and who have celiac disease or who must be gluten free can do, but he doesn't really answer it. I guess that's not his goal.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kayo

    Informative and personal story about being gluten free. Great book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I like memoirs, I like food writing, I like bread. If the privileged vantage grated now and again, and least he recognized it as such.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nora St Laurent

    I enjoyed reading about how this author navigated the GF trail. I learned a thing or two (about some restaurants that are GF with a bakery) having issues with GF changes everything. The author says, “Overnight, I ceased to be someone who could enjoy bread, Pizza, beat, and many other foods of cultural and personal importance – at least in the ways I had always experienced the.”… “You can have fellowship over any meal, but sharing bread seems to deliver an especially high emotional return for a I enjoyed reading about how this author navigated the GF trail. I learned a thing or two (about some restaurants that are GF with a bakery) having issues with GF changes everything. The author says, “Overnight, I ceased to be someone who could enjoy bread, Pizza, beat, and many other foods of cultural and personal importance – at least in the ways I had always experienced the.”… “You can have fellowship over any meal, but sharing bread seems to deliver an especially high emotional return for a simple food. Bread always inspired such excitement, even reverence, in those who have so much as stood near a fresh loaf.” I agree with him on what he feels about bread. I had no idea how much it affected our lives. He continues, “Mixing my own flour blend also reminded me that I still resented being a different type of eater, one who had traded a recipe of four ingredients for a recipe of 10 or more…I had to weigh out each of the flours, combine them, and then mix (sift, preferably) them for uniformity.” All this was expensive too. He says, “Our fridge looked like the GF section of the health food store…some of flours need to be kept cool.” “After 18 months of trial and error they hit the jackpot ATK cookbook…( I felt the same why when I made recipes from the American Test Kitchen Cookbook. Pure gold) By using baking science and a weird assembly of ingredients that nobody would consider dropping into a bread dough recipe 20 years ago, we had bread…we felt wealthy.” Bishop Editor ATK, “I think there’s something about baked goods that people just have a need for in a deep and emotional way, “ The author notes, “I lacked key substitutions and additions yes, but more important than that, my ways of cooking, the practices that made me a good cook, were on auto pilot and fooling me. The old rules didn’t apply anymore.” I enjoyed reading about his discoveries, trials and errors. As he searched to capture the foods he enjoyed before he had to eat GF. He realized he needs a new view of everything in life! It was interesting to read about he and his wife’s struggle in finding a good bread substitute. I liked reading about how the American’s Test Kitchen Gluten free cook book came about and why they choose the recipes for the book. I enjoyed this book because the recipes worked and tasted great. My whole family loved them. Like Paul and his wife I went though many recipes and struggled to discover that most of the recipes I tried for cookie and/or bread didn’t work (until – like the author- I tried American Test Kitchen’s book) Or in some cases they looked great but tasted horrible. It was fun to read he ran into the same snags I did. The good thing is there are so many more options to choose from now. I agree with the author when he says that making your own goodies that taste good for you and others to enjoy is a gift. He says, “To share three hours at a table with the one person you chose from many – there is no loaf, no noodle, no ale as good as that.” Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” Nora St. Laurent TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

  11. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Have you ever had a food allergy? Wondered what is it like to not be able to eat something? The author of The Memory of Bread knows this all too well. In his memoir, we get taken along for the ride as he recounts the experiences that led up to him learning about his celiac disease, as well the journey once it ‘diagnosed’ and where he goes from there. What a considerable change this amateur beer brewer and bread lover had to endure. In this book, we get both a story and a lesson. I have a friend Have you ever had a food allergy? Wondered what is it like to not be able to eat something? The author of The Memory of Bread knows this all too well. In his memoir, we get taken along for the ride as he recounts the experiences that led up to him learning about his celiac disease, as well the journey once it ‘diagnosed’ and where he goes from there. What a considerable change this amateur beer brewer and bread lover had to endure. In this book, we get both a story and a lesson. I have a friend who is gluten free, but I have not experienced myself. In a world where there is so many foods made with wheat this is hard topic. It is even more amazing to understand how it impacts the body and the toll it takes when you cannot process it. Tasks like going out to eat at a restaurant can be daunting and underwhelming. Hobbies with friends can be challenged. All in all, we see the author coping with a lot of things and we get to see a very vulnerable side to his story. The appreciated the candor and the honesty of this book. I loved learning more about something that feels like is becoming more common place. I love that so many are willing to step up to the challenge and create food that remains tasty for those who have to be careful about what they ingest. If you like food and learning, I would recommend this book for you. It is a good eye opener and I appreciated the story very much. Disclaimer: I was awarded this book as part of the Blogging for Books program. Though I did not pay for the book, the opinions are strictly my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

    I'm still thinking about this one. Since I too have a wheat and gluten allergy, I was drawn to this book and could relate to alot of what Paul Graham felt. Initially it is hard to adjust and figure out what you can eat and yes the smell of baking when you walk by a bakery pulls your heart strings and you think darn it smells so good! "No fucking way, I thought, I'll give up beer if I have to, but I won't give up coffee, too" This made me chuckle because I could totally relate, about the coffee an I'm still thinking about this one. Since I too have a wheat and gluten allergy, I was drawn to this book and could relate to alot of what Paul Graham felt. Initially it is hard to adjust and figure out what you can eat and yes the smell of baking when you walk by a bakery pulls your heart strings and you think darn it smells so good! "No fucking way, I thought, I'll give up beer if I have to, but I won't give up coffee, too" This made me chuckle because I could totally relate, about the coffee anyway. There were parts of the book where I felt Paul Graham was whining but then I reminded myself how I felt when I was initially diagnosed. This book is a great tribute to all that is lost for those suffering from wheat and gluten allergies and especially to that staple to tables around the world, bread. Well worth the read. "It would occur to me, much later but with a shock of understanding when it did, that this was what gluten-free cooking really meant: not paying attention to wheat - or trying to imitate it - at all."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lecy Beth

    Being a gluten-free foodie, I thought this book was going to be fantastic and that I'd connect with the author and understand where he was coming from. Now that I've read it, I have mixed feelings. The book is very informative, providing the history of wheat, from the paleolithic era when grain wasn't a dietary staple to present time when gluten is in nearly everything we consume, and how the processing of such a grain has changed over the years as demand has grown. Paul Graham did a lot of rese Being a gluten-free foodie, I thought this book was going to be fantastic and that I'd connect with the author and understand where he was coming from. Now that I've read it, I have mixed feelings. The book is very informative, providing the history of wheat, from the paleolithic era when grain wasn't a dietary staple to present time when gluten is in nearly everything we consume, and how the processing of such a grain has changed over the years as demand has grown. Paul Graham did a lot of research when writing this book/migrating to his own GF lifestyle. That being said... Paul is one of those cliches about people with dietary restrictions. The one whose life is consumed with his new restriction. He cannot go to restaurants, eat at a friend's dinner party or breathe without making sure everyone knows he is gluten-free. I, personally, can understand the struggle of enjoying food and being told some of what you love is harmful to your health and will make you miserable if you consume it. I know how hard it is to give up some of your favorite dishes. I get it. Graham does a lot of dwelling on it in the book. One thing I've learned after having been forced to live this lifestyle, is you make alterations to your diet to accommodate your restrictions and you move on. If you enjoy eating fried food every day but your doctor tells you that your arteries are 75% blocked, you have to make changes in your diet or suffer the consequences. In other words, it's your problem to deal with, not the restaurant that doesn't cater to the dietary needs of that 1-2% of people with restrictions and food intolerances. This is a memoir of someone who is grieving the loss of food. If this is your first encounter with the gluten-free lifestyle, all the research will be very helpful but if you are looking for an instruction manual, this might not be the book. I give it three stars. Middle of the road for me. *I received an advance reading copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*

  14. 5 out of 5

    patrick Lorelli

    A story about a man named Paul Graham and how he struggled with being ill until he was diagnosed with celiac disease. What I did not know are what can happen if it is not treated. You can eventual have any or all of these happen to you diet is not changed, there can be serious neurological consequences such as diabetes, MS, epileptic seizures, dementia. The author takes you through an honest journey when first given the diagnosis and still tries to eat some of his favorite food but either in sma A story about a man named Paul Graham and how he struggled with being ill until he was diagnosed with celiac disease. What I did not know are what can happen if it is not treated. You can eventual have any or all of these happen to you diet is not changed, there can be serious neurological consequences such as diabetes, MS, epileptic seizures, dementia. The author takes you through an honest journey when first given the diagnosis and still tries to eat some of his favorite food but either in small amounts or different bread. This does not work, and when he goes through this part of his journey he had me. I felt here is someone giving you all of the facts and he is even telling you he did not believe what the doctor was saying because he had never heard of it before. Now, of course, we hear of it all of the time and I think some people have changed the diet for health reasons. I don’t think all have the true celiac as is described by this man and what he had been going through. (Not to say it is not true what people are feeling, my personal belief). He shares his feelings about not being able to eat cake, birthday cake, and other things. These are being taken away from him and I could relate because I love food as well. I know what it is like when you can’t eat a portion of food anymore for whatever the reason is. His wife bless her supports her husband and does so by giving up the same items as him and she explains what she went through as well because we do not know that we have certain likes until it is taken away. I found this book to be really helpful since my daughter was diagnosed with celiac and I have started supporting her changing eating, my wife had done so already, I had by cooking and baking different but now our home is like that as the book. A very eye-opening book and very honest look into this man’s journey. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

  15. 4 out of 5

    Biggus

    I gave up half way, so it isn't as if I didn't give it a chance. I mistakenly thought this would be about why we shouldn't eat grains. Silly me eh? :) Instead, it is about a guy who does nothing but whinge because he can't eat the food he used to. Hello, did it ever occur to you that MAYBE humans aren't supposed to be eating grain in the first place? He babbles on about 'eons' of bread eating history, when in fact, in evolutionary terms, we have been eating grains for a few seconds, not eons. He I gave up half way, so it isn't as if I didn't give it a chance. I mistakenly thought this would be about why we shouldn't eat grains. Silly me eh? :) Instead, it is about a guy who does nothing but whinge because he can't eat the food he used to. Hello, did it ever occur to you that MAYBE humans aren't supposed to be eating grain in the first place? He babbles on about 'eons' of bread eating history, when in fact, in evolutionary terms, we have been eating grains for a few seconds, not eons. He gets close to a potential cause when he talks about our microbiome, but then doesn't take the next logical step to ask enough about how and why our microbiome is out of whack. He mentions overzealous cleanliness (probably rightly too), but stops at that. I don't know for certain, but it is at least possible, if not likely, that our modern diet (as well as many other factors to be sure) is a likely culprit of the demise of a healthy gut, the very same diet I might add that this guy complains he can't eat. gah! Talk about shoot yourself in the foot! I am not gluten intolerant, but I don't eat grain, and trust me, for those who are gluten intolerant, don't fall into the same rut that the author does. Don't look for substitutes, and whine about what you can't eat, instead, open your eyes and see a world full of good food, food that will make you healthy, not sick. Read Gary Taubes, Nina Teichholz, David Perlmutter, William Davis et al and get a more realistic insight, then read a few books about the bugs that live inside us. You might have a change of heart and be thankful that you can't eat the stuff.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eryn

    What do you get when you put a woman celebrating Passover in front of a free book shelf? Apparently, it's a book called In Memory of Bread. The title resonated with the woman, who, in the Passover tradition, was abstaining from bread and grain for a week and missed bread quite a lot. Did she know it was going to actually be a book about a man with celiac disease struggling with the loss of his favorite food group? No, no she did not. Paul Graham has clearly suffered a lot. He was an avid bread lo What do you get when you put a woman celebrating Passover in front of a free book shelf? Apparently, it's a book called In Memory of Bread. The title resonated with the woman, who, in the Passover tradition, was abstaining from bread and grain for a week and missed bread quite a lot. Did she know it was going to actually be a book about a man with celiac disease struggling with the loss of his favorite food group? No, no she did not. Paul Graham has clearly suffered a lot. He was an avid bread lover and a maker of food, and his diagnosis of celiac disease changed his life. I'm glad he's found a way to enjoy life the way he is. He was lucky, honestly; he himself admits to being privileged, something that can make his expensive search for the best gluten-free bread possible. He also isn't a perfect person. I'll admit I found some of his language old-fashioned and patriarchal. But hey, if you can't enjoy a book about a thirty-year-old man in the woods of northern New York state learning how to love eating again while you yourself cannot eat, what CAN you do? In all honesty, I learned a lot from this book. Entirely gluten-free baking requires the kitchen to be completely clean of gluten - including any residue sticking on bowls and pans. Making a good entirely gluten-free beer is next to impossible. As humans our societies have a history with bread/grain at its core. But most importantly, big life changes are best met with the support of friends, family, and loved ones.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    I strongly recommend this book for foodies newly diagnosed with celiac disease. I found this book after my recent celiac diagnosis, and am grateful to have read about Graham’s experience. I too am a foodie, although not quite at Graham’s level. That said, I relate strongly to Graham’s experience in coming to terms with his diagnosis and the drastic changes it brings to his life. I especially appreciated hearing another voice explore the “break” that celiacs encounter in our wheat-based Western c I strongly recommend this book for foodies newly diagnosed with celiac disease. I found this book after my recent celiac diagnosis, and am grateful to have read about Graham’s experience. I too am a foodie, although not quite at Graham’s level. That said, I relate strongly to Graham’s experience in coming to terms with his diagnosis and the drastic changes it brings to his life. I especially appreciated hearing another voice explore the “break” that celiacs encounter in our wheat-based Western culture. It’s hard to explain this loss, but it is deeply felt, and Graham’s thoughts on the topics are the arc of the book. Graham said it best: “Unless you’re eating and drinking alone, the rituals around food and drink are about inclusion, and sometimes you feels the pangs to be included.”

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Memoir about the author’s celiac diagnosis in his 30s. He was an avid beer brewer and bread maker and overall foodie, so the diagnosis was a major blow. It’s about his path to reclaiming his love of food and the hunt for the perfect loaf of GF bread. I identified with his struggles and anyone new to a celiac diagnosis or just giving up gluten will appreciate this book. It also includes a bit of history and background on celiac disease and the evolution of agricultural wheat. The straight nonfict Memoir about the author’s celiac diagnosis in his 30s. He was an avid beer brewer and bread maker and overall foodie, so the diagnosis was a major blow. It’s about his path to reclaiming his love of food and the hunt for the perfect loaf of GF bread. I identified with his struggles and anyone new to a celiac diagnosis or just giving up gluten will appreciate this book. It also includes a bit of history and background on celiac disease and the evolution of agricultural wheat. The straight nonfiction bits were sometimes a little dull and occasionally felt awkwardly placed in the narrative. A short chapter about being celiac in the Amish community is an example of this. His struggle with acceptance of his new lifestyle was very relatable but also sometimes tedious.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenn A. Maronn

    Some relatable moments As someone whose diet is restrictive due to health issues, I was hoping to find much to relate to in this memoir. I did certainly find some comfort and solace in reading that like me, the author finds that not being able to share a meal with others due to dietary restrictions can be a profoundly isolating experience. However, I would describe the author as a bougie white academic whose tone and expectations of food and enjoyment of food to be a bit too precious for my taste Some relatable moments As someone whose diet is restrictive due to health issues, I was hoping to find much to relate to in this memoir. I did certainly find some comfort and solace in reading that like me, the author finds that not being able to share a meal with others due to dietary restrictions can be a profoundly isolating experience. However, I would describe the author as a bougie white academic whose tone and expectations of food and enjoyment of food to be a bit too precious for my taste.

  20. 4 out of 5

    anna b

    Paul Graham is a foodie who has Celiac Disease, kind of turned his life upside down after he was diagnosed. This book is about his research and alternative trial-and-error journeys to find suitable wheat replacements and gluten-free recipes. This is something I am unable to relate to at all and tell me that I am a very lucky picky eater. For a foodie to give up what he most loved (beer, being able to walk into anywhere and order any food), if I were him, I probably wouldn't have anything else to Paul Graham is a foodie who has Celiac Disease, kind of turned his life upside down after he was diagnosed. This book is about his research and alternative trial-and-error journeys to find suitable wheat replacements and gluten-free recipes. This is something I am unable to relate to at all and tell me that I am a very lucky picky eater. For a foodie to give up what he most loved (beer, being able to walk into anywhere and order any food), if I were him, I probably wouldn't have anything else to eat and life will be so miserable. Up it from 3.5

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    This was a well written memoir that (I think) would be interesting for anyone to pick up and read. In other words, like the authors topic of bread, its not just good enough for people who are Gluten Intolerant, but for anyone. Personally I was less interested in the discussion of beer, for which there is a lot of lengthy treatment, but as this is obviously something the author has a passion for, it was not too painful to have to read through. The author definitely has a passion for food and the This was a well written memoir that (I think) would be interesting for anyone to pick up and read. In other words, like the authors topic of bread, its not just good enough for people who are Gluten Intolerant, but for anyone. Personally I was less interested in the discussion of beer, for which there is a lot of lengthy treatment, but as this is obviously something the author has a passion for, it was not too painful to have to read through. The author definitely has a passion for food and the perspective of dealing with such a radical life change is an interesting one.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I think the title should be In Memory of Bread and Beer since he spent atleast half the book talking about both. I appreciated hearing sentiments from someone who “gets” the emotional toll of eliminating food you feel so connected to. I felt many times during the book the urge to holler out “amen!”

  23. 5 out of 5

    Yycdaisy

    I suppose that many people who have to go gluten free would get a lot out of this book, especially if they really love bread and beer. He spends as much time on beer as he does on bread. The parts about his life, how he started to feel better, and some of the history of grains were quite interesting. He went on way, way too long talking about his search for beer though, in my opinion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sister Anne

    “Give us this day our daily bread.” In the Our Father, “bread” becomes the representative not only of all nourishment on earth, but our surpassing nourishment in the Eucharist. Unless we eat this bread, we will not only go hungry, we will “not have life” (see John 6: 53). For a while, 16th and 17th century missionaries in Asia translated this petition of the Lord's prayer as “give us this day our daily rice.” That didn't go over well with Church authorities. It may have communicated the aspect o “Give us this day our daily bread.” In the Our Father, “bread” becomes the representative not only of all nourishment on earth, but our surpassing nourishment in the Eucharist. Unless we eat this bread, we will not only go hungry, we will “not have life” (see John 6: 53). For a while, 16th and 17th century missionaries in Asia translated this petition of the Lord's prayer as “give us this day our daily rice.” That didn't go over well with Church authorities. It may have communicated the aspect of earthly nourishment accurately enough, but it lost the Eucharistic connection with the Bread of Eternal Life. And so the Church still prays three times every day (Morning Prayer, Mass and Evening Prayer) for “daily bread.” Yet by now all of us know someone for whom bread, whether the limp white sandwich bread of our childhood PBJs or the crusty artisanal loaves in a high-end bakery, is not nourishing at all. Bread, the simplest of culinary delights is for persons with celiac disease, not food but life-sapping poison. Those who are “merely” gluten intolerant may not suffer the same degree of physical damage from eating grain-based foods, but they know there is a price to pay if they indulge in a bagel or a cupcake. Paul Graham knows what that is like, and in his memoir he shares the experience of being cut off not only from bread as food, but from the culture of bread (and of beer!). There is a special poignancy to Graham's narrative of coming back, literally, from death's door only to discover that he had to give up two of his favorite hobbies, two crafts that had brought him immense pleasure not only in the eating (or imbibing, as the case may be) but in the fellowship built around the products of grain: home bread making and beer brewing. With Graham's book those of us whose daily bread can be, in fact, bread learn what it is like to suddenly be deprived of such a common and seemingly harmless food. Graham's struggle to find food that was (a) like bread and (b) still worth eating highlights an important dimension of culture: the common table. To lose bread is to be cut off from your fellows, as well as f a vital connection with 10,000 years of tradition. When something as basic as bread (and in Graham's case, even the generally-tolerated oats) is off the table, relationships—and not just menus—have to be renegotiated, rediscovered, relearned. But the first of the relationships affected by Graham's sudden illness (and its almost equally drastic “cure”) was his relationship with his wife, Bec. From the very first, Bec decided that she and Paul would bear this burden together. Paul's inability to tolerate ordinary grains (and products made with grain) would not create a division at their common table with the “haves” (Bec) and the “have nots” (Paul). She would scrutinize labels and clear the house of anything unsafe for Paul to eat. She would experience the same loss, and the same, almost desperate search for bread that was at the same time gluten-free and real, as in real, identifiable bread. She would adopt a gluten-free diet with him. Graham found that relearning his life after celiac disease included finding a tolerable gluten-free beer that he could drink with his softball buddies after a game. It meant neighbors and friends going out of their way to provide gluten-free canapes at cocktail parties, and the disappointment of many imitations of bread (the saddest of all: imitation pizza). The Grahams had long adopted a “locavore” ethos, supporting local farms and limiting their food choices to produce, meats and cheeses that had been raised in the vicinity. Until Paul's diagnosis, this included local wheat with which to bake the fragrant loaves which were now out of the picture. Now it became necessary to purchase items that could not be produced locally: psyllium, xantham gum, tapioca starch. With so few restaurants in their rural New York town offering gluten-free options at the time, he had to rely more and more on the exotic. As wonderful as those Asian (hold the soy sauce, please) or African or Latino meals were, they were not the food he grew up with: they did not satisfy his human hunger. They were not bread. Accompanying Graham and his wife on their search for satisfying bread, we learn about grain production and the culture that took root when grains were first domesticated. With him, we learn the forms of bread in various parts of the world. I had no idea that buckwheat (not really “wheat”) blini are a traditional (and gluten-free) French crepe, or that chickpea flatbread is a (gluten-free) tradition in Nice as well as in India. Did the Grahams finally find a bread that was both safe to eat and a real connection to the memories and cultures that were woven into their lives? Would they ever be able to bake real bread at home again? Did Paul find a decent beer for his ballgames? No spoilers here. In Memory of Bread: A Memoir In Memory of Bread was an engaging read, from first to last, with some laugh-out-loud lines in just about every chapter. It disabuses the reader of any notion of a fashionable gluten-free “lifestyle” while giving us a little clue about just what we are asking for, simply on the level of this good earth, when we pray “give us this day our daily bread.”

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick Santaro

    I thoroughly enjoyed this memoirs unique theme. Graham discusses what it is like to lose a passion and favorite pastime. Yet, he elegantly highlights a redemption story of finding new ways to love it again.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lucy McCoskey

    the author and I both have problems with wheat, the difference being that, if he eats wheat, he goes to the ER whereas I just have to go to the bathroom if I do so. this was an inspiring and informative book, well-written by an English professor who is worthy of that title

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A little slow and analytical at times, but as a newly diagnosed celiac I have not found anything that adequately portrays the emotional struggle of going gluten-free like this book does. Anyone with a loved one who is diagnosed should read this book or at a minimum chapters 8 and 9.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bryonna

    No gluten worries here, but the book was interesting. Loved his writing!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ginger Hudock

    Since I also have to eat gluten free I loved this book. A great memoir for anyone who has had a health challenge.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I liked it, but it was a bit redundant.

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