I often talk here about stepping out of my comfort zone – which I do believe to be a good thing. Sort of. When I leap too far outside of it I struggle, but pushing the boundaries can bring some benefits. Apparently.
However, there are other times when stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, even a teensy bit, is problematic.
I was diagnosed as coeliac (celiac, for my US readers!) about 6 or so years ago. After surviving the initial upheaval when everything seemed traumatic and felt too hard, I’m now pretty accustomed to my gluten-free way of life.
In my experience… posh places are usually fine. They make stuff from scratch, cater to fussy eaters and remain ‘current’ so know what’s what.
More problematic are the pubs or clubs where meals are basic; or takeaways, where less adaptation is possible.
Just five years ago I often got blank looks when I asked about GF menu options and I struggled to explain what I could and couldn’t eat. However, nowadays when I ask I almost always receive an informed response.
Having just spent the weekend in Sydney I was again reminded that this being-coeliac caper is… well, it’s sometimes a pain in the butt (and not just cos I can’t eat KFC. GOD I miss KFC!). Being unfamiliar with inner-city Sydney meant that I struggled with food choices all bloody weekend. I had a similar issue when in Melbourne in April. Those with me are dragged from café to café looking for some sign of gluten-free friendliness.
I ended up eating a flourless chocolate cake for breakfast at 7.30am on Saturday as the only place we found open was a chain store called Pieface selling… you guess it… pies and pastries and the like; and the cake was my only GF option.
A very slight hangover on Sunday meant that I craved bacon and eggs (I’ve written about my post-blogging conference exploits in my other blog). Once I arrived at the airport in Sydney I headed to the counter of a café and got a quizzical “Nothing,” in response to my standard, “What do you have that’s gluten-free?” question. Rather it was the Asian place next to it, which offered up a couple of choices.
I’m generally very fortunate as my friends and family are very conscious of my dietary needs and we often choose places solely based on the availability of GF options. In fact, I try to support those cafes and restaurants which overtly refer to dietary needs, or include little asterisks or symbols to indicate the availability of GF options.
Catering for those with dietary needs isn’t THAT hard to do and it pisses me off when places don’t make the effort. You can get soy sauce WITH or WITHOUT gluten. Ditto re cornflour, bacon and the like. Buying a loaf of GF bread isn’t overly challenging. Surely!
So, despite having a fabulous time at my first blogging conference, I must confess to being relieved to be back home and knowing EXACTLY where I can and can’t go and what I can and can’t eat. It seems that, in my case familiarity DOESN’T breed contempt, but comfort!