Most people get excited when they book a holiday.
Looking forward to it can be the best part. Although I love travelling and visiting new places, there’s a part of me that worries! I worry that there’ll be no food, imagine in this day and age when there is so much variety. Although living wheat free involves eating a lot of fruit and vegetables and this shouldn’t be a problem anywhere, but trust me, the language barrier has its own challenges! I recall a trip to France when I lost a few pounds from lack of food!! We were in the tiniest town (it was unique and very pretty), where there was literally one bakery, one restaurant and the hotel where we stayed. I knew I’d have to avoid the pastry delights and freshly baked bread (we were in France after all!) but I was looking forward to the continental offerings for breakfast which usually is an array of delicious fresh fruit and yoghurts. Boy, I was mistaken! Breakfast consisted of a mini tea party. Seriously it was the most delightful sight I had ever seen, it looked like a children’s tea party, everything was mini – from mini croissants to pain au chocolates to mini muffins, and mini baguettes. It all looked divine, but there was nothing I could eat! Dilemma! With my basic French, I tried explaining that I couldn’t eat wheat and it would be great if I could have some fruit. The owner looked at me as if I was very odd and disappeared. Moments later she came back with a mini plate with the tiniest strawberries I have ever seen. There were about 8 on a mini plate. I think she might have picked them from the bush in the back yard! So, after eating them, I tried enquiring again. She said she had no more fruit and she would see what else she could get me. She came back with a mini pot of yoghurt. It did me for the morning, but obviously I felt embarrassed and I was still hungry!! It was when I went to the local bakery that it was the most comical. I thought sure you never know, I am in France where they cook lots of types of fresh bread, they might make corn bread or some other wheat-free variety. Again in my basic French, I explained that I couldn’t eat wheat and asked if they had an alternative. It was like declaring that I had made the biggest faux-pas ever. They looked at me like I had 10 heads! It was actually quite funny. Obviously I came away empty-handed and still hungry!! We stopped for lunch in a cafe. I daren’t ask about the bread, as I’m sure they had heard about me in the town, so I decided that plain food was the way to go. The safest option is always salad (without the sauce!). That evening, we went to an amazing wedding of a good friend. Although the company was great and we had good fun, my stomach suffered yet again. The starter was soup with gluten in it with freshly baked bread on the side. There was a great looking buffet, till I looked closer and there was pasta salads, couscous salads, bruschettas – I couldn’t believe it!! I managed to find some lettuce leaves and some plain meat. Needless to say, I was still hungry. The dessert looked fantastic; it was a French tradition – a montage of sweetened balls made of flour (wheat of course!). All I could do was laugh. So, that’s an example of living and learning. I was unprepared and this trip obviously changed my approach to travelling. I now always go prepared. I make sure I’ve nuts to snack on and always bring wheat-free crackers, whether they are oat-based or gluten-free made from rice or corn. You can never be too prepared. Don’t rely on the country you are travelling to understand you and to stock your regulars in their shops. Some countries are great like Germany and Belgium have health stores where you can find something, but others, especially France (!!) clearly don’t! Might I also add that this particular trip did not stop me travelling, it just made me more aware and I just bring lots of supplies with me now! So, my advice is to research where you are going to and if in doubt, don’t leave without.
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