Petunia’s Pies & Pastries // miracle on 12th avenue
April 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
We practically flew through the bright doorway into Petunia’s Pies & Pastries as we sought to escape the wintery mix of rain-snow-sleet-wind-what-have-you whisking down Portland’s 12th Avenue. Inside, we gingerly wiped away the involuntary tears of winter from our chapped red faces and coaxed back our steady breath, which the west coast wind was so eager to steal. As the fog crept from the lenses of our glasses, we took stock of our pale green and pink surroundings.
My eyes focused on a glass case of delectable pastries, behind which stood a young blonde in a frilly green dress, smiling invitingly at my friend and me. On the ornate white shelf, a chalkboard advertised a selection of roasts from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I leapt to the counter, debit card at the ready and “GivemetheGuatemalanplease” spilling in an almost indiscernible rush from shivering lips.
She looked at me like I was a crazy person. And rightly so, I suppose. I repeated myself, slowly, adding a polite request for a slice of the walnut banana coffeecake that’d been grinning at me since I walked in the door. Money and thanks were exchanged and I left my celiac friend at the counter, asking the usual questions about what would and wouldn’t kill her while I snuggled into the back corner at a pearly white table.
My friend joined me shortly with a huge pastry in her hand and the most joyful expression on her pixie face.
“Everything is gluten-free,” she said in awe. “Everything.”
As she took a tentative bite of her cupcake, I saw tears form in her eyes and spill over. I vaguely remembered the first time she discovered Udi’s gluten-free bread and couldn’t stop talking about how it tasted like “real bread.” I had a feeling this was another one of those moments when she could recall the taste of real pastry.
I understood the emotional connection with food. Up until the age of fourteen, I ate wheat, dairy, and soy-free against my will. While all the other kids got their Wendy’s chicken nuggets and Oreo frosties, I’d sit there dejectedly munching an almond butter and jelly concoction spread between two slices of dry, crumbly bread. Everything tasted like dust or cardboard and my relationship with food was based on the fact that I needed it to live.
When I was fourteen, by some miracle I managed to sneak a box of chicken nuggets under my mother’s nose. My taste buds were opened up to a whole new world of horribly delicious breaded fried processed foods. I was especially excited when eating the entire box had no affect on my stomach, my mental capacity, or my ability to walk in straight lines. It really was a miracle. Needless to say, I branched out into the world of gluten and dairy and as the allergies begin to return five years later, I find letting go of bread and ice cream to be one of the most difficult experiences of my adult life.
That being said, I understood the tears. Gluten-free is typically billed flavor-free, and for good reason. Petunia’s, however, a frilly haven for celiacs, overcomes the stereotypes, literally bringing tears of joy to at least one customer’s eyes.
We left laden with pastries to take home, not sure what made everything so friendly to digestion and simultaneously so delicious. We called it magic and left it at that. We don’t question culinary miracles.
tues – thurs 9am-9pm
fri – sat 9am – 10pm
sun – 9am-79m