We’ve been away for 11 days, returned home this past Sunday night. We went on a fabulous trip to Israel, the trip of a lifetime. We loved it so much and want to return again and again. So many memories, so much to share:).
Traveling as a Celiac was definitely a challenge. We brought one small suitcase full of snacks that I could eat, for example the Organic Crispy Rice Bars (the peanut butter and the berry flavor are my favorites) made by Nature’s Path (they have an Enrviroz Kids line). Turns out that breakfast and lunch were pretty easy. The hotels we stayed in always served huge buffets for breakfast. I always timed it so that I was first in line at the buffet. I was always able to make a good connection with one of the managers of the restaurant at each hotel, and they took good care of me. On several occasions, they went back into the kitchen and had the chef cut up fresh fruit for me. I gave the parameters, asking them to use a clean knife and cutting surface. I brought a box of large and small ziplock bags, so that I was able to take the fruit salad with me each day and eat it for lunch. They also had wonderful plain yogurt. Though I couldn’t check and see if it was gluten-free, I just had to let go and trust on that one. It wasn’t Dannon yogurt, which I’ve been told isn’t GF. The tour bus had a cooler in which I put the yogurt and fruit. I also took a ziplock bag full of the fresh green salad and feta cheese. And I put some olive oil and fresh lemon juice into a small ziplock bag, put that inside the large ziplock bag full of salad, and I had an afternoon snack each day! So, that worked well.
However, dinners were always a challenge. I know I was “glutenized” a few times. I can now tell when I’ve inadvertently eaten gluten…I get the old familiar tummy rumblings within minutes. The best meal I had was prepared on the last day of our trip. The kitchen had a heads up from our tourguide, and they boiled a chicken breast and veggies for me in a separate pan from the rest of the buffet. While a bit bland, it was comforting to eat something so plain. I jazzed it up by putting some olive oil, S&P on it. And it actually tasted yummy and satisfying. In fact, that was such a success that from now on, when we’re traveling and eating out at restaurants, I will ask for that when possible. The picture at the beginning of this post is from our first night in Tel Aviv, at a restaurant called Maganda. The waitress assured me she understood Celiac Disease and knew what was safe for me to eat. She brought us an assortment of Middle Eastern salads including baba ghanoush and hummus. About halfway through eating the salads, she rushed to the table and said that she’d made a mistake, that in fact most of the salads she’d brought had a powder in them that contained gluten. Duh. I’d already eaten half of them. Nothing to be done, though. So, while the shish kabob tasted good, I didn’t really feel safe eating any of it.
People asked me if I was bothered by seeing what everyone else could eat and not being able to eat it. Honestly, I wasn’t. I am so determined to heal my intestines, that I would just as soon eat what I CAN eat and know that I’m doing what is best for my body. As long as I have choices, I am fine. There was always something I could find to eat, so I was really quite satisfied.
Of course, there was the one afternoon when I got violently ill. We were in the “shuk”, the outdoor market. I purchased some spices from a lovely Israeli woman who spoke very good English. She assured me that what I purchased was fresh and GF. She also assured me that the rice and quinoa samples I ate were GF. They were delicious, so full of middle eastern tastes. About an hour later, we had just gone into Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum. All of a sudden, I needed a bathroom, and quick. Peter quickly helped me to the closest restroom. I had writhing stomach pains, like nothing I’d ever had before. I was sure he would need to take me to the closest hospital and have my stomach pumped. After about 15 minutes, my stomach settled down, after I lost most of what was in it. I don’t think it was food poisoning, as there was someone else from our tour who ate exactly what I ate, and she was fine. I’m guessing that there might have been cross contamination and perhaps that was what made me ill.
We are back in the US, and frankly, though I loved the trip and look forward to returning to Israel, I am happy to be back to our GF safe haven. My kitchen is safe and I can get back on track now!