Everyone, I went to Boston for a week. I didn’t plan. I didn’t pack food. I got on an airplane and tried to travel like a non-Celiac. I wanted to see if I could stay safe without planning ahead. I had some success and some failures and I’m going to share it all with you.
I got to go to Boston for a private event on Monday and half a day Tuesday. My husband flew in to meet me and Tuesday evening. We had Wednesday and Thursday to sight see. We flew home Friday afternoon. I only did research on the fun things we wanted to do. I did not research restaurants or gluten free options.
The private event provided safe food for me on Monday and Tuesday for lunch. Starting Tuesday afternoon, I was on my own.
Tuesday afternoon I moved out of my hotel into in a lovely Back Bay walk up condo through VRBO. The place was tiny with a small, clean kitchen. I thought that I would cook for dinner – but I didn’t want to.
I was on vacation and Boston is supposed to be a very gluten free town. So, I walked around Back Bay. Back Bay is a walking friendly area of Boston. There was a main street with a ton of restaurants and little shops for 6-8 blocks. Lots of people were out walking, the weather was perfect, and I was scared. I was scared to eat anywhere. Many of the restaurants marked gluten free items on their menus, but I just didn’t want to risk it. This was the beginning of my vacation and I’ll be darned if I’m going to get sick. So, I simply ate a Shake Shack. A bit of a cop-out I know with all of the good food in Boston to eat, but I wanted to be safe.
My husband arrived at our VRBO about 8:30. He was hungry and thirsty – so we went out. We found an Irish pub – he had a whisky and I had a cider. Then the menus came out and they marked items that could be made gluten free. All right! As we are ordering our lobster roll on gluten free bread, the waitress asked about fries. I said are they gluten free. She said, get this, “No, the fries are cooked in the same oil as our breaded items.” WHAT!?!?! This is my safe place. This is a very good sign. Dinner #2 and she understands cross contamination. We are in a great place! We got a side of steamed broccoli with no seasonings as a side instead.
On Wednesday morning after quick walk down the Charles River and a hotel change and it is time for breakfast. I did look up a place for gluten free breakfast near the hotel. Great – local, funky place with gluten free pancakes on the menu. Awesome! Talk to the server, she seems knowledgeable about cross contamination, knows about gluten free needs, and all seems well and good. Our food takes an exceedingly long time to come out – another good sign because they are being extra careful in the kitchen. Food is amazing! We scarf down eggs benedict and a gluten free pancake and are on our way to sight see.
Take the subway to historic district. Stop in a small pub for a pint of confirmed gluten free cider. Visit Paul Revere’s house. Take a tour of the Old North Church. But while touring the crypts in the basement of the Old North Church the flop sweat starts. Flop sweat is not good and my husband notices. We sprint to the nearest restaurant for a coke and a snack. I have three bites of the caprese salad and sprint for the bathroom. I throw up – a lot and it was a really nice restaurant. We leave a 50% tip and leave in shame. The Uber arrives and we head to the hotel for a nap.
Two hours later I wake up still feeling bad but not willing to give up this trip. This is the first time we have been away without the kids in a long time. We need this break both as a couple and I need a break from the day to day grind of parenting. There is a Legal Seafood within walking distance and so we go there. A safe place with gluten free fried seafood. It could be argued that I shouldn’t put fried food on a dicey tummy. That would be the correct argument. But I wasn’t willing to chance a small restaurant, I wasn’t willing to give in to this fatigue and sickness, and I needed to be certain I’d be okay. And no way am I passing up the opportunity to eat fried seafood that someone else cooked for me. So, I ate fried shrimp and it was glorious. We had an easy walk through Boston Common and back for an early bed time.
I was able to bounce back with a lot of sleep, some allergy medicine, and lots of water. Our second day was not nearly as intense with the sight seeing as the first and that’s okay. We saw what we wanted and enjoyed ourselves.
As an FYI, I got glutened at breakfast Wednesday morning. Thursday, we went back to the same place for breakfast and discovered that the english muffins provided to us with the eggs benedict should have been gluten free toast – not english muffins we got. I thought I had been glutened by the cider – nope.
The rest of the trip was uneventful food wise. I ate gluten free pasta in Little Italy and lemme tell you – it was glorious and I didn’t get sick. I felt like I was eating at what I imagine eating at an Italian grandmother’s kitchen was like – loved, garlicy, creamy, and safe. Normally, I would warn away from doing this – but this restaurant according to 3 or 4 websites was safe. So, I took a chance. I was already sick, so what’s the worst that can happen? Nothing happened and that was the BEST! I had gluten free hot dogs at Fenway Thursday and a gluten free Lobster Roll on our way out of town on Friday.
The trick to this experiment was to see if it was possible to travel without packing bags of gluten free food and stressing myself out about finding food. The first night was stressful because we really cannot travel without doing some basic research about the general area we are staying. But once I got the hang of it – just a little bit of a search yielded lots of options.
Also, the places that seem the most knowledgeable can make mistakes too. I find it hard to believe that people cannot tell the difference between gluten items and gluten free items at restaurants. Well, now it happened to me. I get how it can happen. I will be kinder – but I even double checked with the server each time she came to check on me. I get it now and if I’ve ever ridden your case about it, I’m sorry.