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Mtndog, I'm also on the North Shore and while the first time I ate at Uno's in Swampscott I was fine, the second time I was severely sick afterwards. Since I never liked chain restaurants to begin with, they probably lost a customer.
I also checked out Not Your Average Joe's. Their gluten-free menu does not include proper vegetarian meals. Another one ruled out. It's a chain, anyway.
I have to agree, though, on Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Neither store offers everything I like, so I have to go to both! But, I just visited a WF in Providence, RI. this weekend and they had way more to choose from than the one by me!! I think I'm going to write a little letter, because then I won't have to jump between supermarkets to do a complete shopping.
Don't be timid to talk about your situation and don't let anyone give you attitude about it, either. Besides, the more people demand gluten-free options while out and about, the more they'll start to offer them places. For example, I always ask bars if they have Bard's, New Grist or Redbridge beers before settling on something else.
I've had better luck with Mexican than Chinese places. QDoba and Chipotle are good. There are a couple of independent Mexican sit down places I've had good luck in, one in Gloucester MA and the other in Providence, RI. Unfortunately, I can't trust the gazillion of them in my own neighborhood because they're too authentic and speak little English. I also don't eat meat and don't want pork fat, chicken broth and other stuff they put in EVERYTHING. When I try to explain, I just get a look like I'm from another planet.
I grew up in Wayne, in North Jersey and although I don't live there anymore, I'm down there often enough to make checking this thread worthwhile. I hope to learn where to go for a good meal next time I'm there! Last time, I went to a pizza place with lots of gluten-free options on Allen St. in the L.E.S. (not in NJ).
I was vegetarian for eighteen years before being forced to go gluten-free. I was lactose intolerant for about ten years. Even with my further restrictions, I can't bring myself to eat meat. The funny thing is, people look at me more strangely for the wheat that I can't have than for the meat I choose not to.
It's funny, but I was buying SAN-J Tamari wheat free soy sauce since before even the thought of having a gluten intolerance entered my mind. I came to a conclusion on my own, accurate or not, that they must put wheat in the cheap soy sauce, since it's just supposed to be soy sauce. I just wanted to buy the good stuff.
I've had good luck at Asian restaurants in general, except I had a different waiter during my last visit to one I frequent and I definitely got gluttened. There was no soy sauce, as I asked. It was vegetables, tofu, and made spicy..but SOMETHING had to be in it. Maybe MSG...
Sean, I see you are in NYC. A lot of places there carry Bard's beer as well. It's a little heavier and more of a "micro-brew" gluten-free beer. I was a bit of a beer snob before this issue and I find it hilarious that Redbridge is better than regular Bud.
This is all great advice for people who carry bags and women with purses. I never got into the man-purse thing, though.
I don't mind carrying a bag around some of the time, but there are times when I'd absolutely hate it. The sort of solution I'm looking for is one in which I can pop into a place, like a convenience store or pizza shop, and grab a gluten-free option. I'll just keep dreaming. Actually, it's just about possible in NYC. Boston isn't too far behind, either. In my 'hood, just north of Boston, I'd have perfect options at all these Mexican and Latino places if I wasn't also vegetarian.
If you're at a house party, then bringing stuff with you is encouraged anyway. Just bring what you can eat. When I bring Redbridge beer everyone else wants to try it!! You can bring proper tortilla chips and not even stand out, too.
You might have to look out for places where people have spilled their beer, or places that don't wash their glasses, but otherwise, I think you're ok. Unless, you're talking about bars that serve food. Most American pubs can't even do vegetarian right and don't have separate anything.
I'm 34, gluten free maybe four months now, and still trying to work on that. My last all-night bender in NYC was the first one I couldn't drink beer on. That was hard enough. I've been getting into bourbons, but it's not the same as a good beer. We always eat dinner somewhere first, then hit up a diner around 4am. I have to order eggs without anything else when I used to get pierogies!
When I'm at a catered event, it's completely different. But, caterers who may not understand gluten-free do understand and fear allergies, so I try to explain it to them along those lines. I'm new at it, but I have no hesitation over trying to explain the condition to someone, even if it annoys them.
As far as bringing food goes, I hate carrying around lots of stuff. I think it comes from having a mother who would try to move an entire house's contents with us to a family day at the beach if it weren't for my father saying we don't need all that! I also was never a big fan of food in "bar" form before, like powerbars, granola bars, etc... but I may have to reconsider out of necessity. Maybe there's a food bar that can survive the conditions of my back pocket.
I live just north of Boston and turned down going there because I don't think it's right to charge a whole $4 more for gluten-free versions of food they charge quite a lot for in the first place. I can understand a dollar, maybe two dollars more, because of the higher cost of ingredients and extra, separate cookware. But, I think they're price-gouging. They know there aren't too many other places we can go.
Good luck. I'm thinking about switching doctors after my experience. She said my test came back negative and that I can go back to eating wheat, then I did, and it wasn't pleasant. What she didn't tell me was that being gluten free a while before the test would screw up the results. I don't even think she knew that. She was even more concerned about testing for everything BUT gluten intolerance. I'm learning from this board that doctors have a strange aversion to helping us out with this?