Travelling with a dietary disclaimer by Jen McDermott
By Jen McDermott
Have you ever been to someone’s house for dinner, only to find that dish they’ve lovingly prepared and served up containssomething that you absolutely cannot bring yourself to eat whether due to allergies, a gag-inducing distaste or moral choice?
As an (almost) lifetime vegetarian, if I had a dollar every time I had found myself in this scene, well, I’d be able to afford a reallllly expensive steak.
I try and do the right thing. I inform my guests beforehand that I am vegetarian. I offer to bring an extra dish so they don’t have to go to further trouble while preparing the feast. And when, on the rare occasion, this still isn’t enough to avoid the mutually embarrassing incident of being served something I can’t stomach, I am quick to save face and reassure my host that I’m fine to tuck into the salad, bread and side veggies (really, I am!).
Living in Australia, the odd waylaid dietary request is about as bad as it gets in my quest to live meat-free. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited a restaurant that doesn’t offer at least one or two vegetarian options, and should I find myself in that situation, the chefs are always more than accommodating by whipping me something up.
When I travel though, it can be hit and miss. In Vietnam, I was showered by gorgeous option after gorgeous option. While in Russia? I was once served an apple for dinner. Seriously.
But none of this has held me back. I can happily make do with any alternative – buttery green (France), mushrooms in suspicious cream sauce (Poland) or even an apple – for the chance to travel.
But that said, I certainly have it easy. I can only imagine how the diabetic -lactose-intolerant-coeliac-with-anaphylaxis do it…where a simple lost in translation situation could lead to something really serious.
Is there anything, food-issue or otherwise, that you feel has held you back from enjoying a new experience?