Talking Story

dessertsOn the cruise ship there is food everywhere you turn. But since I’m allergic to wheat, about 90% of it I can’t eat. Breads, meat drenched in gravies and suspicious sauces, food fried in the same oil as breaded chicken tenders and onion rings­­­—I sometimes on the ship feel like a castaway surrounded by water, but without a drop to drink.

I love fresh fruit, cheese, and green salad, but really, how much of that stuff can you eat? (A lot, apparently.) It doesn’t help that none of the food service staff seems to know what’s in the food at the buffets. Vegetarian and low-sugar options are labeled, but only one item, a type of corn bread, is labeled gluten-free.

Before booking the cruise, I asked about gluten-free offerings and was told it would be no problem, but our first night’s dinner server had no idea what gluten or wheat or flour was let alone what I could order without it. I played it safe and ordered a burger, no bun, and a baked potato. Cheese and apple slices for desert. Whooohooo.

Day 2 Breakfast: yogurt, fruit, bacon from the buffet. Lunch: green salad, marinated olives, cheeses from the buffet.

Living the high-life now. Like a squirrel, I started breaking into the emergency nut and protein bars I keep in my purse for times like these as the kids and hubby snarfed pizza, pasta salads, and cake.

The second night was better when by chance we were seated by the lady who happened to be in charge of allergens for food service. She clucked her tongue at my experience. From that moment on, I ordered breakfast and dinner the day before. I even had gluten-free chocolate chip pancakes with guava jam one morning. Lunch was still a bit of a problem, but I wrapped melon slices with ham from the deli and took a couple of chances with rice and beans and a chicken curry–one chance I later regretted.

There were probably other things I could’ve eaten, but nobody could tell me what had wheat in it and what didn’t. Labels would’ve helped tremendously.

Did I mention labels?

But here’s a tip for gluten-less diners when everyone else is sampling five or six or eight desserts: go to the coffee bar, grab a hot chocolate, walk to the soft serve counter, and drop in a shot of vanilla ice cream. Perfect temperature for drinking and satisfies a sweet tooth. Also, order cheese plates with apple slices instead of breads and crackers. With a little creativity, you won’t starve.

And at least all my clothes still fit.

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