Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Australian Bush Tucker

So here I am in Australia.  I arrived four days ago in Cairns, after a grueling triple connection flight.  It took a few days for the jet lag to wear off, and I'm just beginning to feel like myself again.  It is absolutely beautiful here!  As an undergraduate student, studying psychology, I went on exchange to Newcastle University (about 2 1/2 hours drive north of Sydney).  It was the first overseas foreign country that I'd ever gone to, and had been a dream of mine since I could remember.  My life has not been the same since.  I am now a complete travel junky, and get a little depressed if too much time goes by without international exploration.  My partner Mindy was bitten by the same bug, so we end up satiating our travel hunger together.  It's a good arrangement:)

Since I've been here I've had a pretty easy time eating gluten free. Wherever you go in Queensland Australia, you're bound to run into a Woolworths, or a Coles, and they both stock GF goods.  Woolworths and Coles are the Australian equivalents to Wegmans, Price Chopper, Genuardis, Acme, etc.  What's cool about Australia, is that there is a Gluten Free section in all of their major grocery supermarkets.  They pretty much got all you need, like GF flou
rs, bread mixes, pastas, sauces and the like.  To get a loaf of bread, you need to see the bakery people and ask them to fetch you a loaf from the freezer.  Unfortunately, GF bread in Australia is much like what we have at home; small, hard and dense.

You're also likely to come across random stands or shops in outdoor markets that cater to people with food allergies.  The second day I was here I found a place that had Gluten Free Meat Pies. You can get all kinds of pies, from vegan to seafood to kangaroo, and if you opt for a "floater," your pie will be served to you upside do
wn in a bowl of split pea soup.  Meat pie stands are totally an Australian thing, kind of like our hotdog stands.  Although I ate it cold, it wasn't that bad (although it wasn't that good either).   

I had met a bloke in the airport in New Zealand who was also headed to Cairns. We chatted up a bit, and I gave him the book I had just finished reading called "Choke" by Chuck Palahniuk.  It was a book given to me by my good friend Dana.  She's been trying to get me to read stuff from that author for a while now.  It was very twisted and raw, making a great read in my opinion.  But I digress... The New Zealand guy ended up picking me up from my hostel and taking me on a tour of the local swim spots.  There were signs warning of Crocodiles all over the place, but the swimming holes were beautiful.  I was diving off of rock banks into crystal clear water, shaded by rainforest canopy, and surrounded by the calls of parrots and cockatiels.  Being that we were partially shaded, I underestimated the strength of the sun and got a bit burned.  My friend told me th
at in Australia they have a saying that goes, "slop, slip, and slap it on mate." Which means, Slop on some sunblock, Slip on a long sleeve shirt, and Slap on your visor or cap.  The sun here is serious!

After swimming we arrived in a little town that processes sugar cane and got a bite to eat at the local Pie Shop.  They didn't have any gluten free pies, but made a killer sandwich with egg salad, roast beef, beet slices, cheese, onion, cucumbers, and Italian

 dressing.  It was completely healthy and filling.  Queensland is also littered with roadside fruit and produce stands, so being celiac is not really a problem.  

Cairns is nice, and it has a sweet skatepark full of friendly people from all over the world, but we are feeling like it's time to move on. Before we go I'm going to check out a place called Fusion Cafe, that according to the Lonely Planet Travel Guide, is the best cafe in Cairns, and is also the best place for people with food allergies. As soon as I find it, I'll be writing about it.  Well, enough work for the day, I hear the waves calling me.

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