The Professor and I have been very fortunate to have opportunities to travel quite a bit the past few years; it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s challenging and it has stretched both of us in ways we’ve never expected. It’s probably been more of a growing experience for me than it has been for The Professor – primarily because I’m more of a control freak than he is – and anyone who has traveled knows that sometimes you just have to roll with things and let them happen . . . not necesarily my strong suit . . . but I’m learning.
While on a trip in April 2012 I began to suspect I had celiac; my youngest sister had nearly died more than 4 years prior and a biopsy came back positive for celiac – a genetic disorder – so we knew the gene was part of our family history. My mother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease more than 40 years ago and I have cousins and aunts from that side of the family who all experienced similar symptoms; once I quit eating gluten, the stomach/bowel isues as well as nagging joint pain, bloating and other lovely side-effects disappeared.
I didn’t spend a lot of time baking pre-celiac but paying nearly $8 for a loaf of bread pushed me into the kitchen, out of my comfort zone and, as Ariel sings, into ‘a whole new world.’ But for anyone with celiac or a gluten-intolerance, eating out is like walking a landmine. I’ve had my fair share of cross-contamination and initally, experienced the familiar flu-like symptoms for about 48-72 hours: headache, body aches, etc. I even went so far as to say, ‘Eating gluten will make me sick but it won’t send me to the hospital.’ But recently I had a severe reaction to eating a small amount gluten and, had I been alone, I could have died; as you can guess, I’m now hyper-vigilant in the world of restaurants and eating out.
The Professor found a very helpful app for your iPhone, iPad and/or iPod – Find Me Gluten Free; it’s a free download and on a recent trip to St. Louis, it came in very handy in finding a lovely little cafe – New Day Gluten Free – a completely gluten-free cafe where every. single. item. on the menu is gluten-free. And there’s a note posted on the door asking people not to bring outside food into the cafe as they don’t want their customers to be exposed to cross-contamination. Everything we tried was excellent and if you’re there for lunch, order the New Day Sub. Cookies, cinnamon rolls, decorated special occasion cakes as well as bread and a plethora of carry-out items are all available. We’ll be heading back to St. Louis to do a full story on them soon. (I love this sign behind their service counter.)
And you know what? Find Me Gluten Free lists 2 gluten-free restaurants in Rome – which is a good thing because our bags are packed again as we head out to Italy! We’ll be shooting video for the wonderful folks at Jovial Foods and capturing the Culinary Getaways they offer; Shauna, Danny and Lu of Gluten-Free Girl will be teaching gluten-free baking classes for part of our visit and Jenny from Nourished Kitchen is leading classes the second week we’re there. Jovial is also home to our favorite gluten-free pasta, sauces and cookies – but they also produce gluten flour from the ancient, organic Einkorn wheat – the only wheat in the world that has not been hybridized and is grown in the Tuscany region of Italy. We’ll be posting more about our experience here on Smith Bites as well as twitter, instagram and on facebook so we hope you’ll follow along. The photos I’ve used in this post are from their website – we cannot wait to arrive and see this space in real life!
The Professor and I plan to travel whenever possible, say ‘yes’ to opportunities that stretch us; we want to meet new people and visit other countries to experience as much of this world as we possibly can – always telling stories along the way.
And I’ll tuck a few gluten-free snacks into my bag for those ‘just in case’ moments when the lay of the land looks a little dicey.