Day 8: Adventures in gluten-free dining
I woke up feeling a lot better this morning. I still have some symptoms lingering about, but the stomach pain is gone. And no stomach pain means I’m a much happier person at the moment.
We started off this warm Sunday morning picking blueberries at a local farm with some friends.
It was a lot of fun. The little man had a great time eating blueberries and filling his bucket (for the first couple of minutes). Then he discovered there were little frogs scattered about the greenhouse, so he and the other kids went searching for them. We grown-up types continued to pick (and eat) blueberries to our heart’s content. I may or may not have eaten my weight in blueberries by the time we were done.
After stuffing our faces with said blueberries, we went to Hamazushi for lunch (somehow we were still hungry) – this is where the adventure began.
I learned from my Japanese friend that most larger restaurants have an allergen menu they can provide upon request. With that in mind, I asked an employee for one when we arrived. I assumed it would in Japanese (which it was), but I figured I could make it work. I have the Google translate app – I was ready for the challenge.
I did not anticipate that it would be 4 pages of very, very small print.
So there I was, fighting with Google translate.
First, I tried translating it by section. I assumed trying to do the entirety page at once wouldn’t work. Unfortunately, it couldn’t seem to figure out where one item ended and the next one began.
Then I tried looking up the Japanese names for the items I wanted to find, so that I could search for them manually – but, that didn’t really work either.
I tried just doing the automatic translation thing, but that was a disaster too.
I really didn’t want to bother the staff and ask for help. I know it may sound dumb, but I wanted to figure it out on my own. I was getting increasingly frustrated though, so I caved and asked someone to please point out the two items I thought (hoped) might be safe. She kindly obliged. Both had gluten.
At that point I considered giving up. I figured I could just sit there and sip on my Coke until everyone was done eating. Fortunately, I had one last idea:
Hamazushi is a conveyer belt sushi chain. Once you get to your table, you place your order using the small computer screen. The sushi is then delivered to your table via the conveyor belt. There’s an option to view the menu and order in English, so it’s super easy. Every item has a picture to go along with it too, just in case your not sure what something is. Instead of trying to Google translate all of the items that did not have gluten or milk in them on the menu, I decided to go through the English menu and chose the different things I wanted to eat. Then I switched to the Japanese menu and searched for the photos that matched those items. I took a picture of each of the names of the items I wanted in Japanese and then proceeded to search the 4-page menu for each. It was a tad time consuming at first, but once I found the first one, it was easy to find the others. They seemed to be grouped together in the same way on both the allergen and computer menus.
Thankfully, it worked, and I was able to order some prosciutto sushi and edamame. It was all really good!
Granted, I am assuming there is a risk of cross-contamination. Unless you eat at a dedicated gluten-free restaurant, there’s always a risk. It’s the unfortunate part of eating out with celiac disease.
I’m sure someone might wonder why bother even taking the risk (especially after my post from last night). Well, that’s not easy to answer. But I’ll try – in a future post.
I hope you all had a great weekend! Happy Sunday!