Saturday, 6 April 2013

Escaping From Winter

When my friends told me they were moving to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia I thought I would never see them again.  It is so far away from home, after all.  Much to my surprise, they invited me out to see them.  I booked my airfare, and prepared to depart. Life always seems to get busier when you are about to leave on a trip.  Those rye pockets I wanted to make?  Waaaaaaay too busy to make them.  Instead I decided I would just make my Tropical Oat Bars, and pack as many raisins and crackers as I could fit in my suitcase and carry on.  All these were carefully sealed in ziploc bags to keep them fresh and bug free.  I also made sure to pack my wipes to clean off my area on the airplane.  I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

After more than 16 hours of air travel and layovers I arrived in St. Lucia to a balmy 34 degrees celsius.  My friend greeted me at the tiny little airport and our first order of business!  What can I eat?  We go to a grocery store and my adventurous friend picks up stuff off the shelves and turns to me to approve or not.  Much of the basic food was very familiar, we had no problems finding raw materials to work with.  I just couldn't help feel like my allergies were looming over my head...

Any other peanut-allergic people surprised to see this? 

I'm so glad my friends live in an actual house with an actual kitchen, it alleviated a lot of my concerns about food ingredients when it's all controlled.  They even got rid of all the peanuts (ate them) before I arrived.  It was really considerate of them.

We spent one day at the opposite end of the island, in Rodney Bay, and there was a fantastic supermarket in the Baywalk Shopping Mall called GL Foodmarket.  It had a lot more things that I could eat and some specialty diet related goods too (for those with slightly less restricted diets).  I even managed to get Terra Sweet Potato Chips there.  Fancy that!  The hotel's buffet breakfast allowed me to eat bacon and fruit until my heart's content.  We also had a late lunch out at a great restaurant, Spice Of India.  The chef knows my friends and came out to chat and take our order.  He was incredibly accommodating with my allergies, which is better than most experiences I have had with chefs who appear nervous when we have the same conversation. 

One of the coolest experiences was going to a produce market near her place in Choiseul, which looked like it was in someone's garage, but was full of locally grown treasures.

Inside, there was plastic crates everywhere filled with familiar though non-conforming fruits and vegetables, and a few curiosities that native to the Caribbean. 

Squashes, cinnamon bark (it's a thicker shave than we're used to), and taro root.

Stumpy carrots, citrus and something I can't  remember the name to.

There was a bit of a wrench on the way home.  I did forget my last two granola bars in the fridge back at my friend's house.  I realized at the airport in St. Lucia, pondering my 24 hour journey home.  A wave of panic washed over me.  I had previously looked at the restaurants and the stores in all the airports I was flying through, there wasn't much but dried fruit available to eat, unless I was able to pick off half of my allergens off a packaged "garden salad."  Luckily, I saw a little box calling out to me from the bottom shelf at a Hudson News in LAX that I hadn't been to yet.  This mini meal to go was perfect.  I cheated a little in some of my allergens (I never compromise in the life threatening department though), but I was close enough to home that any stomach troubles could be tolerated and any eczema that might appear would be days away.  I was so happy I didn't mind paying airport-prices for it.  I wish there was more stuff out there like this! 

Yum, sunbutter with sugar is so good!!!  That was a treat!

I am so happy to have had such a good experience on this trip.  It gives me greater confidence for future trips, and a better knowledge base for how to handle food on-the-go.  New vacations?  Bring them on!  Work trips?  Negotiable with a kitchen!  Now, it's time to get back to baking and cooking.  Looking forward to blogging more.....

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