Saturday, 12 December 2015

Fruit salad and the coeliac

There's a really interesting discussion going on over on the Coeliacs Eat Out Board on Facebook at the moment about the dreaded 'fruit salad only offering' you get when eating out at some restaurants and hotels. And why it's such an issue. It happened to me a short time ago and I couldn't really put into words why it was such a big deal to me and why such a silly thing is upsetting. Everyone's responses have helped clarify it:

1. You don't go to a restaurant to have things you can easily make at home (well I don't),

2. Fruit salad isn't a treat in the way a dessert is supposed to be (same goes for ice cream or sorbet),

3. You're paying good money to eat out and only having one option makes you feel cheated when everyone else gets to tuck into cakes etc,

4. You have to accept it or be prepared to make a fuss, drawing unwanted attention to yourself and the fact you're different,

5. It's a reminder that you've got coeliac disease and that you have to manage it every day at every meal, and that you have to plan ahead, negotiate, discuss and hopefully then get something nice agreed and that what you've been promised actually turns up when it's supposed to. Consequently it leads to anxiety.

6. It happens a lot. The effect is cumulative.

It's not a choice, this gluten free diet, it's not something we can opt in and out of, a little gluten will do us harm we're not just following a fad to be difficult. If you're still with me through all of that, you might wonder how much gluten it takes to make a coeliac sick. The smallest amount of gluten which has been shown by a biopsy to cause damage to a celiac is 0.1 gram per day (Catassi et al.). This is approximately the amount of gluten contained in 1/48th of a slice of bread. About a thumbnail's worth.

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Fifty Shades of Grey Film - What a ride!

It felt like we'd been waiting to see it for ages, and here it finally was, Fifty Shades of Grey on the big screen.

There was a loud and audible moan of disappointment when the film ended, due to frustration of being in the story and having it end rather than because it was bad. I think that's an excellent indicator overall of the reception of the very large crowd that saw the film this evening at Vue Lakeside.

It was hot, no question. I'd be happy to have more hotness but it certainly wasn't a cop out, it was a good snapshot of the book - like all these things you never get ever aspect of a book in the film. There just isn't time, as it was I think the running time was about 2 pretty engrossing hours.

The two actors did a good job. From the first trailer I'd thought that Dakota Johnson might have not been able to carry it off but she was a really convincing Anastasia. The 12 year old immature sniggers from the audience were irritating in places (people, it's just sex). It was (intentionally) laugh out loud in several places and made me rethink aspects of the story and want to read it again. It reinforced the fact that whilst the book is an erotic novel, there's plenty of story in there, of emotion and depth, pain, discovery and a whole host of other layers. It's not just about the shagging.

Fifty shades is not a catastrophe as some reviews have described it, I liked it. I'd not claim it as great and worthy cinema but I really enjoyed it, I'd see it again - actually not would, definitely will, and I'm looking forward to the blu(e) ray release. One gripe - again the double standard on nudity, female nudity is still seen as much more acceptable than male, hopefully this will change in 2 and 3. Sorry Jamie but we want to see your man parts, we really, really do.

It follows the structure of the books so far, so this film ends where book 1 does (hence the ooooohhhs) - hopefully that's not too much of a spoiler. Now off to google what's been said about the next two. And have a suspiciously early night.

PS Jamie Dornans bottom is AWESOME. Seriously lickable.

PPS I don't recommend you watch it with your Mum.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Eating Gluten Free in Prague

I'm just back from a three night stay in Prague, it's a beautiful city and I can't recommend it enough for a city break.  Eastern European food though is notorious for being wheat based, with lots of dumplings, wheat thickened stews etc. so I did plenty of research before we went and found some real gems.  It's worth taking some basic snacks though if you want to hang out in traditional Czech cafes.

Gluten free is clearly extending out across Europe, I didn't find it particularly hard to eat out whilst there, well, no harder than it is anywhere new.

Firstly, the hotel we stayed in - The Best Western Majestic Plaza offered me GF rolls and cornflakes with the breakfast that was included in our stay.  They advised which dishes on the buffet were safe and when the mushrooms weren't one day due to a sauce they were in, they offered and made me a fresh, safe dish of them of my own.  They had a really wide selection of stuff, cheeses, sliced sausage, eggs, bacon, fruit, yoghurts.  It was excellent.  They also tailored meals in their restaurant to suit, and I had a bar snack of baked Camembert with GF bread for dipping.

If, like me, you go to a country and want to try regional dishes, Svejk U Karla restaurant has a full menu of things that you wouldn't normally get, like dumplings, pancakes, apple strudels, the menu was extensive and the prices very reasonable.  It's the only 'normal' restaurant I've ever been to where the first menu I was offered without asking was the gluten free one.  The potato dumplings were fantastic.

I came across two bakeries that had big, gluten free crossed grain signs in the window and Bez Lepku (Gluten Free) clearly displayed.  One is on the Old Town Square and is called Pekarstvi v Dusni.  I found part baked bread, biscuits, muffins and cake there.  The prices again were a lot less than we pay here (two muffins, some biscuits and two part baked seeded baguettes was about £3.50).  The second is Libeřské lahůdky at 9 Vodickova, nearish to Wencleslas Square.  I just saw the sign in the window and didn't have time to go in so can't report on what they had for sale.

Our first lunch, at the recommendation of a friend, was at The Bake Shop. It's an upscale deli selling soup, sandwiches, salads and cakes.  They were able to do a salad for me with GF bread.  I didn't sample any of the biscuits, they were alongside lots of other 'normal' stuff and I didn't want to risk it.

I didn't see any GF products in Starbucks unfortunately.  There are plenty of McDonalds around though if you get caught out.

Other places that offer GF menus below, I haven't tried any of these places myself.

Hotel U Prince - this is on the Old Town Square
Cafe Imperial
Little Whale - looks more expensive than many Prague Restaurants
Pizza Coloseum - GF pizza bases and pasta
Triton Restaurant - on Wencleslas Square with an amazing looking cave stalactite ceiling

Another bakery -
Diana Svet Oríšku at Vocelova 606, Praha 2 and other locations - fresh gluten free bread on a Monday

Hope that helps you, and do visit Prague, it's a beautiful city stuffed full of amazing architecture and history.