Statement from coeliac Anthony Demetre re: Saturday Kitchen remarks: still missing the point?

Unless I missed it, the hoped-for apology following the comments made by Anthony Demetre on the 9th April’s Saturday Kitchen never materialised on the episode broadcast on the 16th, but last Thursday Demetre did issue a statement via his agent’s blog, which I only spotted Saturday evening, hours before a trip away, leaving me unable to comment sooner. Some may still not have seen it, as it appears very little noise accompanied it. I found it mostly disappointing, and I’ll comment a little on it here.

He opens:
"I am a coeliac and like others, I need to control my intake of gluten."

And already I feel the frustration rising. Coeliacs need to do more than control their gluten intake – they need to minimise their gluten intake.

He goes on:
"My understanding of this disease is that different people have different levels of tolerance, and I am one of the “lucky” ones who can succumb to a craving for pasta or the occasional croissant, once in a blue moon."

Speaking symptomatically, some coeliacs may not be able to get away with a crumb while some may be able to get away with a bite of bread – but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the internal harm that might or might not be going on. It appears from this that Demetre is unaware that lack of symptoms may not necessarily mean lack of damage.

As for “succumb to a craving for pasta”… well, this isn’t what the chef said on Saturday Kitchen. His words were: “I go on this diet.. no gluten for about three months and then for two weeks I just eat as much pasta and pizza as I can get hold of…”

To me, a two-week feast of pasta is clearly something more than giving in to some ‘craving’, and I’m not sure ‘once in a blue moon’ is equivalent to ‘once every three months’ either, although this is of course more subjective. Now I don’t mind what the truth is – as others have said, it is his business what he eats and when – but I don’t understand why, instead of clarifying his statement on his gluten-consumption, Demetre has chosen to replace it with something which appears to at least partially contradict it.

Next, he makes some apologetic remarks, and these do seem sincere. He points out that his comments were not intended as advice, and I do feel this is reasonable, as he was not recommending his approach – yet all this still fails to address the confusion his remarks may have caused some people new to the disease, or to any children watching.

The last thing I want to comment on is this edited line:
"I apologise for …. allegedly underplaying the seriousness of this condition."

Let’s be clear: he laughed. His ‘allegedly’ seems to me to imply that he doesn’t feel he did underplay the seriousness of the condition with that laughter, and I think it is this apparent denial, ultimately, that will leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouths of many coeliacs.

I still don’t feel he fully gets it. Do you? Or am I being unfair?