cautious travels

today, i'd like to discuss traveling on a restricted diet. i feel incredibly lucky to have traveled as much as i have, and can't believe that i get to visit so many fun places. phil and i decided to spend this summer close to home instead of going back to the states yet again. and by "close to home" i mean "europe". i love it!

that's phil and i in zurich last summer, enjoying a small beer.

our big summer vacation that we just finished planning is to tuscany, italy. i cannot wait. we are going to spend just over two weeks in august traveling around, starting in florence, then spending a week with friends in a villa near lucca, and finishing in a little town called scarlino. it will be so great to relax, sunbathe, sightsee, and eat so much delicious italian food.

and this brings me to the subject at hand: when you've got food sensitivities, what do you do when you travel? while i know i won't be downing scrambled eggs every morning just to make life easier, i am thinking of having fresh pasta at least once, and perhaps some parmesan too. why not? it certainly has to be tried - considering the location. and this isn't limited to a food intolerance either. let's say you just don't really like eating seafood. yet you're on holiday in a beach town, everything is super fresh and the restaurants are renowned for their fish dishes. would you at least try it?

brush up.

i certainly don't speak italian, but that doesn't mean i won't try. especially since a couple of places we're going in italy are pretty small villages and may not be very english-language-friendly. this is something i think everyone traveling to another country should at least do before they go: learn the basics. i'm not talking about "hello" and "thank you" - yes, obviously you should learn those too. i mean you should learn the proper words in that country's language for the foods you are allergic/intolerant to. remember when my mom and i went to marbella and i learned "sin huevos"? don't just assume that everyone knows english, even if a restaurant's menu is printed in both languages.

why yes, roast beef sandwiches SHOULD always be served with mango and chocolate. thank you, switzerland!

plan ahead.

let's say you just can't live without your goat's yogurt (this may or may not be hypothetical...). why not do a little research to find out a) how to say goat's yogurt in the native language and b) if it is readily available at local supermarkets or delis. i'll be visiting paris in early june and asked my good friend nilo who lives there if she could do a little detective work for me :) obviously, if it's not easy to find or doesn't exist at all, then i'll live. but it's nice to know ahead of time!

useful resources

my friend roger has a great website for the gluten-free crowd - celiac travel. on there you can find pretty much anything you'll need to prepare for a journey, no matter what language. one really useful tool is the restaurant card: you can simply print them out in the language you require and bring them to the restaurant with you, which will alert the staff of your allergy. genius!

another brilliant website for the vegetarians and vegans among us is happy cow. they've got a very thorough directory of vegetarian restaurants all over the planet, each with user reviews and maps. definitely visit this site before you travel if you're veggie.

relax.

most important! you're presumably there to have fun and get away from your normal daily pressures. just enjoy yourself. soak up the culture and let loose!

anyone had interesting experiences with food / dining in another country? please share!