by Anneli Rufus
Chef Narsai David, who helped make California cuisine a household word during his longtime stint as a Kensington restaurateur and who is now KCBS-radio's food-and-wine editor, will MC tonight's second annual San Francisco Gluten-Free Cooking Spree on Treasure Island. (Even if the eastern half of the Bay Bridge hasn't reopened yet, Treasure Island is still accessible from San Francisco.)
It's a fundraiser presented by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and it features top chefs, doctors and other celebrities as well as a cooking contest, buffet, marketplace, book-signings, silent auction, raffle, and more - all in hopes of spreading the word about one of the world's most wildly misdiagnosed diseases.
Celiac disease occurs when the small intestine's lining is damaged by gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. Upon exposure, the fingerlike villi lining the small intestine deteriorate and flatten. This hinders the absorption of nutrients. According to the Mayo Clinic, the only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Undiagnosed celiac disease makes a patient four times likelier to die prematurely.
Because its symptoms are so numerous and sometimes self-contradictory - from bloating to migraines to delayed puberty to miscarriage to fatigue to canker sores - only about one in every 4,700 of the three million Americans with this incurable inherited autoimmune condition receives an accurate diagnosis. Celiac disease has also been linked with ADHD, possibly as a result of iron deficiency.
Stanford psychology professor Phillip Zimbardo -- conductor of the famous 1971 Stanford Prison Study and founder of the Shyness Clinic in Menlo Park -- will be one of the cookoff judges at tonight's event in Treasure Island's Building 1. Vikki and Richard Petersen will be signing their book, The Gluten Effect, and Angela Wu will be on hand to sign her best-selling book, Fertility Wisdom. The evening's array of beer and wine will also be gluten-free.