Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gluten Free Flights

Before I begin posting new recipes, I want to talk a little about how difficult it can be for a person with celiac disease to catch a good meal while traveling by air. On my trip back from Australia, I first tried to catch a meal at the Cairns airport. The only places to get a meal was a coffee stand (with nothing but gluten filled baked goods), and a store dedicated to selling Australian food products. For around $15, I purchased a meal consisting of camembert cheese, a dry and crumbly GF triple chocolate fudge cookie, and a Pasteli sesame and almond bar. Not exactly the breakfast I was hoping for, but it was a quick fix.

On the flight to New Zealand, no GF meal option was offered, so I ended up choosing the "fish cake" meal. I gave the fish cake to one of my friends and ate the rice and veggie side dishes. Once again, not exactly a great meal.
On the second leg of my journey I found myself stuck in the Auckland, New Zealand airport for a 13 hour layover. After passing out on a bench for 6 hours I awoke famished. My two options were Burger King and another Coffee Stand. Fortunately the Coffee Stand had slices of GF Orange Cake, so I ordered one with a steaming cup of cappuccino. However, a slice of cake does not a real meal make, so my only choice for something of substance was to order a burger from the King. I ordered a Whopper Jr. with cheese and no bun, and received the usual look of confusion at my request. But I'm used to it now.
On the flight to Los Angeles, California, Air New Zealand offered a GF meal option, for which I was very grateful. The meal came with baked chicken, veggies and potatoes, a GF bun (not so great), and a fruit/nut bar. I enjoyed my meal and passed out feeling full and satisfied.
On the last leg of the journey, from L.A. to JFK Airport in NYC, not only was there no GF meals available, but since it was United Airlines we had to pay for any food we received. Knowing my predicament, my two friends suggested that we all order different "snack packs" and then divide the foodstuffs up so that we could all eat. One of my friends is vegetarian. That arrangement worked out good and we were all able to fill up reasonably well. That "meal" consisted of cheese, potato chips, hummus, raisins, and two almond bars.

I think it will always be a little more difficult for people with food allergies/restrictions to travel via air and eat well, but hopefully U.S. airlines will soon follow the example of many foreign carriers and offer gluten free as well as vegetarian options. But I won't hold my breath.

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