Two weeks is a long time to travel and be gluten free. I really wish I had been able to post more, but the wireless connection at the hotel was not good. Too much waiting on pages to load while the beach was calling my name kept just didn't work well for blogging. So I thought I would just do a little recap of what I learned on this trip.
The most important thing I learned is to ask more questions. Do not assume things. For example, at the fair one day I found a baked potato vendor. I questioned them as to the type of toppings available. I wanted to get broccoli and mushrooms but wondered what type of seasoning they put on the vegetables. The vendor told me butter. So I took them at their word and ordered a baked potato (that I'm sure had been on steroids), with broccoli, mushrooms and sour cream. After I started to woof it down, the thought occurred to me that I had not inquired if the sour cream was real, pure or had any added ingredients. Also, the vendor told me butter was added to the vegetables, but to some people margarine is the same as butter and some margarine has wheat added. To me there is a huge difference between butter and margarine so when I tell someone butter, I mean butter. But not everyone is a food freak like me. I was fine and did not get sick, but I still did not ask enough questions.
Another example was the day I was on a quest for french fries. I just don't get them anywhere because of the whole dedicated frier issue. But I found this vendor that sold only burgers and fries. So I order some. Then I go to the greek booth to get some hummus to dip them in. Don't say yuck! It was really good. You should try it! So as I'm sucking down my fries and hummus, it dawns on me that sometimes they coat the fries in flour to make them crispier. I did not ask about that. Thinking cap gone.
So you know what happens when you play russian roulette, eventually you will come upon that bullet. And I did over a plate full of nachos. The third to the last day, my daughter, her friends and I were in La Jolla. We got really hungry and stopped at a mexican place. My first clue that this was not good was when I handed them my dinning card with my celiac warning, the chef even came out and told me he didn't think they could serve me a wheat free meal. I ask him about their corn tortilla chips and he said "sometimes" we fry chicken in the tortilla friers. So it was a gamble. With three starving girls looking at me, who did by the way say we could go somewhere else, I took the gamble. They were the best nachos I had ever had in my life, but by evening the stomach pain started. That evening we were to go to our favorite place for an ocean front dinner. I managed to eat a wonderful gluten free dinner the chef cooked at that restaurant, but I was miserable for the next couple days.
The next day we were supposed to go hear me and my daughter's favorite band and I barely was able to make it. The daughter ate beans with cheese and some nacho chips as well, but did not have the same outcome as she never did suffer any digestive symptoms prior to dianosis. It's very hard to tell when she has been glutened. Sometimes she will get a headache and feel tired. Occasionally she will have a stomach ache, but she lucked out here.
Eating out is so risky. But, I think it can be done. I learned a lot on this trip and I hope if you are new to living gluten free, you will learn those lessons from me. I also did do some things right. I learned to not depend on finding food in an airport. On our way to San Diego I did not pack dinner for myself, only some candy snacks. I forgot we would be in the airport at dinner time and I would have to eat there. I did manage to find some yogurt, but I was pretty hungry. So coming home I made sure I had a cheese sandwich, some almonds, dried fruit, and edamame.
It took us around 11 hours to get home, so I could have had other things to eat as well. I would always welcome ideas from others of things that could easily be bought and made with little preparation to take on an airplane.
I learned to make some pretty simple things from bagged, cleaned lettuce, cut veggie's, lunch meat, cheese, hummus, etc.
I felt the most comfortable eating out at nicer restaurants. Most nicer places seemed to have knowledgeable staff that were familiar with gluten free food although I still ran into some that thought potatoes were a no-no. Go figure. The fast food places are most risky, but I did manage to get to In and Out Burger and it was most delicious! I was so excited to be able to eat some fries from dedicated friers!
All in all I learned a lot. Ask more questions! Keep snacks with you so you are not staving and resort to eating something that might be riskey. I had so much fun hanging out with three teenage girls. We will return to San Diego next year and I will be even more prepared. Maybe some of you out there will give me some good ideas. My next adventure will be to Las Vegas in December. That will be interesting I'm sure. It's a fair convention. I will be able to get all the latest news of what new fried food on a stick I will be blessed to not be able to eat!