Travelling and food allergies

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When I am at home, or in a range of restaurants that are known to me, my various food restrictions don't cause me too much of a problem. I can't say Mr. Pick-it-up is happy about our small circle of available options for dinners we can both eat, but mostly he is the most patient and loving man in the universe and puts up with me and my "business". Case in point: said most-patient-and-loving man surprised me this weekend with a trip away. He told me on Thursday we were leaving Friday, but he kept the location a surprise. He'd already taken care of the kids, and got us all organized for a little mom-and-dad-only getaway. WOO!

So, my first thought: I can't believe you were able to keep a secret from me, because you never can. Second thought was: this is probably going to be a great weekend. Third thought: what am I going to do about food and will they have a Starbucks nearby?

This is the thing about food allergies/intolerances: when you can control everything, you're fine, but when you have to depend on others to provide food for you in a small range of options, it is nothing short of terrifying. So, remember that this is what I'm dealing with right now:
1) chicken and fish only (haven't eaten red meat since I was 15 or so)
2) absolutely no gluten-containing foods, or potential for cross-contamination; and
3) easy on the eggs, dairy and soy.

So, yeah. It sucks. Obviously when I am buying food in the best of circumstances, I have a greater desire for healthy options with no strange chemicals, organic if possible, etc., but when eating out, I am realistic and drop those for something...ANYTHING I can actually eat that won't make me sick.

The region we went to was about 2hrs away from home, and it is a more mountainous area that is heavily into wild game, and lots of red meat. As we strolled along the main drag while my husband waited for me to find a place for dinner that I could eat at (he litterally said "you know me, I don't care where we eat as long as you are happy"- yes, those words exactly to his wife who loves him to pieces) every menu had a myriad of dishes created from the following: veal, lamb, elk, seafood. You wouldn't believe me I'm sure, but I swear hardly anyone had a simple chicken dish! But of course, what I used to be able to do, which was to rely on a veggie pasta dish or pizza or chicken sandwich, I can no longer do. Sigh. Wheat is my kryptonite and it is blessed EVERYWHERE. So what does Miss Dropsie eat in that scenario? I'll give you a run-down.

Friday dinner: Table d'hôte included four courses- soup, then starter, then entrée then dessert. Okay, so soup? No, can't eat that. Menu included a smoked salmon salad for starter, and salmon for a meal. I had one choice either way that might work. I spoke to the waiter, (keep in mind this was a pretty expensive restaurant) who fixed me up a salad first instead of the soup, then got me the smoked salmon dish, then had the chef cook up a chicken breast for me (despite not being on the menu, they had some for a private function) that he served with basically steamed veggies and a few boiled potatoes. It was very bland, but okay. The waiter got the chef to make me a fruit cup for dessert (which as I mentioned previously, is a big no-no which causes very poor digestion, but he was so chuffed I couldn't say no).  3.5/5

Saturday breakfast: buffet breakfast at the hotel. Big buffet of fruit- ate lots. Big buffet of pastries, breads, meats, pancakes, etc. - had one small scoop of scrambled eggs (despite trying to avoid them, I was kind of desperate) and a few pieces of cheese. 3/5

Saturday lunch: went to a chain restaurant because I knew there were a few dishes I could eat. Tragically sad, in this beautiful region to eat at a chain restaurant, I know. Had? You guessed it: omlette with cheese and fruit. Eggs are the order of the day. 4/5

Saturday dinner: GORGEOUS 5* restaurant. Avocado and asparagus salad as a starter, then a BEAUTIFUL cedar-planked salmon (plank still kinda steaming- like having a campfire in my plate) with a side of phenomenal cooked spinach, and more asparagus. Didn't care about the duplication. RIDICULOUSLY good. 10/5 (seriously)

Sunday breakfast: I hate breakfasts out. Faced with once again, a veggie/cheese omlette. No potatoes, because it's a shared deep fryer with other bready things. Tomato slices. Filled the hole, but had virtually no taste. 3.5/5

Number of good coffees? 3. Where were they obtained? From the espresso-pod gadget in our room. With some coconut sugar and no cream even, they were amazing. Every other coffee I drank was terrible...weak. Region does not know a good strong cup of coffee. Even went to a place where coffee was roasted, and bought a coffee and a bar of in-house-made chocolate. Both were average at best.

Overall feeling after being out of my element? Feeling pretty bloated, some pain, but not much. Hopefully it passes quickly once I get back into my routine.

Despite walking ALL DAY on Saturday, going through the tiny shops that lined the main road, my only purchase was two loaves of gluten free bread I have never seen here. Will update on how I like 'em. :)

Highlight of my ENTIRE weekend away? Hmm...perhaps the ginormous bath that could have been a swimming pool ranks high, but the best part was going into the hotel bar Saturday night, to find two "wedding singers" playing and taking themselves very seriously, amidst a sea of drunken travellers. It made for some insanely funny visuals (including a young guy from what looked like a bachelor's party inviting a blue-hair up for a dance...and getting turned down).



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