Snow, rain, cold…or sunshine and ocean breezes…? Rushing about, dodging frantic Christmas shoppers or sipping this lovely margarita on a Mexican beach with sand between your toes?
If you’re planning a trip to your own version of Winter Wonderland, with food allergies and sensitivities you need to be thinking about a lot more then what brand of sunscreen to pack.
I love to travel. Dining out is a favorite hobby. As a Chef, I also especially enjoy the opportunity to cook when I am in exotic locales. The ingredients indigenous to each region tempt me like a siren song.
To achieve my need to cook, I always rent a house or condo, so I have a kitchen. With my ever present food allergies to consider, this makes it safer for me to travel. Surprises still lurk in the most unlikely places, when you are in a foreign country, though. You need to do your homework.
I was thrilled to discover that the restaurants in Puerto Vallarta are actually grasping the significance of food allergies. Some menus even stated, in large print, to discuss these with your server. A trip to Isla Mujeres , four years ago, would have been a dining disaster if we hadn’t had my friend, Maria, a native Spanish speaker, along.
When dining out in a foreign country, you must know how to say the words in their native tongue. Never expect to find that your server, even though he may have enough English to take your order, will be able to understand what you are trying to explain regarding these ingredients, you must avoid, without your ability to communicate in his language.
This recent trip did teach me some new problems, though. Mexico does not have the same standards regarding food additives. Even cooking at home, we encountered one that caused both of us some serious discomfort. According to the link I have included, Mexican beef suppliers are voluntarily discontinuing the usage of Clenbuterol. I wish that were as true as the report states. Immediately, after ingesting some grilled New York steaks, we were both showing all the signs linked to this additive, so I started doing some serious research to determine what we had gotten a hold of. Considering we had purchased the meat from a store owned by a large US corporation, this is especially troubling.
To avoid the oils we are allergic to, we generally try to only order foods that can’t possibly be contaminated. Ceviche style dishes are our favorite. Some of the beach side restaurants are producing absolutely stunning arrays of this culinary treat. Unfortunately, we discovered, they also like to dust them with MSG and additives to preserve freshness. Without the chemical analysis, I wasn’t able to determine exactly what they were using, but we certainly knew it was happening, despite requests to the contrary.
If all else fails, the margaritas and daiquiri’s are ‘safe’! The beauty above was a very tasty ‘Cadillac’ prepared at the table by our favorite server, Freddie, at The Blue Shrimp Restaurant. Afternoons were made for siestas, right? Enjoy!