Today I'm making gluten for my dad's birthday party. This is the first time i've made more than one batch at a time so having the two next to each other I finally saw just how much i wash out in the sink. My hands are pruny and tired and I'm regretting the decision to do it all in one day.
Gluten is something special in my family. Its made for special occasions and takes many hours to finish. Its developed (in a mixer), washed (in the sink), boiled, fried, and then baked. When I was little we split it up in a few days and all of us had our own job to help out. I usually ended up cutting up onion and stretching the gluten into little steaks for the boiling portion of it. Sometimes my mom would let me wash it out, but only if she had gotten it past the point where it wouldn't get lost. I remember she lost it once and it was like a tragedy had happened. I was in disbelief. We had to start over? There was not way to save it? It was all wasted? I was so disappointed and practically in mourning for the loss of perfectly good gluten. When people came over we might let them try it or we might not. Like a favorite book or song I didn't want ruined or wasted on someone who might not like it, I gauged how they might respond to it and only offered small amounts to close friends, giving them strict instructions that if they didn't like it they were to give it back so it wouldn't be wasted. That never happened of course. They thought it looked gross, but they always loved it after they tried it.
When I got married I knew this was one tradition I wanted to keep. Of course I didn't own a mixer, but i thought it would be worth it. The first time i developed it by hand for half an hour, and then lost it in the sink because it had been so long I didn't remember the exact way to do it. Needless to say I didn't do it again for awhile. When i did I remember sitting on the ground with a bowl between my knees, pushing my hands into the dough until they hurt so bad I literally could not do it another second. Then I took a break and did it again. I was NOT going to lose it. It actually turned out fine and I haven't lost a batch since. I finally broke down and got a mixer after a few years. I still only make it maybe once a year, and I have yet to offer it to any of my in laws or people i've met here, for fear of wasting any of it. I've considered trying different sauces with it but every time I'm done and have spent hours and hours on this food, I'm never brave enough.
Today I started the gluten at noon. Its now 4:00 and I'm about half way done. At least I will be doing the last part on saturday and i'll probably have help...even if it is the easy part.