Ok, fried gluten balls was supposed to be my bad joke idea for a recipe, but it turns out they really are a thing (and like so many things, only a Google search away). This got me thinking about the cultural significance of food: gluten-free as a dietary choice, yet also reflecting social values and identity.
So let’s have a go at it…
“Fried gluten balls are quite greasy and very delicious.” — Buddah’s Delight.
I’m a native Californian, living in Provence. A poster child of the blithe, unabashed caviar left. I get vegetables from the local farm, buy fresh fish at the town market and sip café in the village square. So naturally gluten-free is a thing for me and in my social circle. Down with pizza! Down with pasta!
Except that now it’s not. So many people have jumped on the anti-gluten bandwagon, it’s just not that cool anymore. My worldly-wise friends, gluten-free is passé. Like Ted talks when Ted became the talk of the town. When everyone is au courant it’s time to upturn your nose and to look down.
Yes, indeed. Gluten-free has become annoying. It’s a trend. It’s a marketing construct. It’s not that healthy. Most of all, it’s a disclaimer that some people have celiac disease.
Pro-gluten is the new gluten-free. Toss the rice flour, compost the chia seed and donate the paleo cookbook to your local library – now is the time for fried gluten balls!
Home-made fried gluten balls
- Buy some gluten flour (sold in Chinese supermarkets)
- Add enough water to make a dough and kneed it
- Rinse away the flour with water so that what you have left is a ball of gluten
- Shape it into wet balls, about the size of a walnut
- Fry until crisp in soybean or peanut oil at 190°C (375°F) (or maybe try some trans-fat)
Dip in glucose. Serve with: Coke.
Believe it or not, you may have already eaten fried gluten balls. They are used in stir fry or soups in Chinese dishes. When rehydrated, they absorb flavor and have a chewy “vegan meat” texture that makes vegetarian dishes more filling. Yum!
* I have no problem with store-bought gluten balls vs. homemade… just make sure they’re free range and organic.