Hello, I am MissC and I will be providing a travel-based blog, although sometimes you might find the odd random cooking or outing related post.
Everyone knows how difficult it can be, trying to stick to a GF diet while travelling and, as a part-time globetrotter myself, I aim to bring my experiences to you and hopefully help make holidays and international travel that little bit easier, all the while finding excellent restaurants to recommend. Got any questions? Got any hot tips? Want to make a recommendation? Send me a message!
Well, let me start by telling about my recent trip to Shenzhen in China and Hong Kong. These are probably a couple of the most difficult parts of the world in which to eat, especially if you are sensitive to MSG - they put it in everything and it is marketed out there as a "healthy" alternative to salt. Soy sauce is also an issue, as that is used in all dishes to add flavour.
What I found the most difficult about eating in China is the waiters' attitudes towards me approaching them with my Coeliac-UK issued information sheet (in Chinese!) about what I can and can't have. The majority of them would just gesture, as if to say "yeah, yeah - I know", which doesn't inspire confidence when trying to eat out. I did find one brilliant al fresco restaurant, although it was in a very dirty area of the Baishizhou area of Shenzhen. It didn't really have a translatable name, but the manager carefully read the info sheet while standing at the ingredients stand, selecting this and that and keeping it separate from the gluten stuff. The nights I ate there were good nights, even better then an upmarket teppenyaki place in the centre of town - 7 hours of hugging the toilet after each visit did not make me want to return. I only went twice and Ihave no idea why I even went back - I think I originally blamed it on something else.
Hong Kong was a little better, with more English speaking waiters, so I was able to enjoy my food a little better. A couple of years ago, I would've hated having to speak English to someone abroad and would at least try something of a foreign tongue, but now it is necessary so I was extremely grateful for assistance given in English! In HK, soy sauce is still used a lot, as is MSG, but there are more restaurants catering to the English stomach which, after my Shenzhen issues, was more then welcome. Oh, and the toilets were western style, as opposed to the squat toilets I had had the pleasure of "experiencing" in Shenzhen.
Top tips for when out and about in China and HK:
1) Carry your Coeliac UK issued info card - it is very handy can can save you from days of pain
2) Always ask to have food cooked without soy sauce and MSG
3) Always go for plain boiled rice
4) Always carry toilet paper - if you are caught with a Coeliac moment, this will be priceless, especially if using a squat toilet
5) Carry antiseptic gel with you (see reason 4!)
6) Don't always trust the waiters to make sure your food is GF - if you feel he doesn't quite understand, move on.
Some of these tips, you are probably thinking I am trying to tell you to suck eggs, but it is just so easy to get caught out, as I was twice while in China. Mistakes are made, info cards are forgotten, trust is given too easily and toilets become your best friends.
Here is a link to the info cards in Chinese. It is worth noting that the characters in Mandarin and Cantonese are the same, they are just pronounced differently depending on which language you speak. You will still be understood, no matter who you show it to. celiactravel.com/gluten-fre...