One challenge we've had on our various journeys has been eating. There are two reasons for this:
- When it comes to restaurant food, I'm pretty fussy; I'll take home-cooked anything over overpriced mediocre restaurant food; and closely related to that:
- I have allergies which certain foods seem to aggravate, turning into a vicious cycle
Now, for you wonderful folks who've offered a place to stay along the way, not to fear. Once you see the details you'll see how easy it is for us to adjust, and how you won't have to lift a finger. Honest.
My biggest health issue is that I don't drink cow's milk. Being a Wisconsin boy, that hurts. No ice cream. No sour cream. No Wisconsin cheddar or pepper jack.
I'm not lactose intolerant. What happens, for reasons my health care specialist has explained but which I've neglected to remember, is that the dairy products amplify the effects of my other allergies. Since we moved to Sacramento, I've had what feels like a mild flu. The whole time. Allergy meds tone it down, but I have a mild headache, scratchy throat and eyes, runny nose, dry cough.
When I cut out the cow's milk in all forms, the symptoms were almost completely controlled by the over-the-counter meds I take. Slip up, like I did yesterday, and have cream sauces, cheese, blah blah blah, and today, it's like the flu. Except, I don't get to call in sick to my life, 'cause I know I'm not contagious or even actually sick. I just feel lousy. (Note to self: come read this next time you're tempted to eat every single thing friends bring to the picnic.)
It's pretty easy to compensate. We drink tea every morning; love coffee, but just can't deal with the blast of caffeine, and can't make really good coffee without expensive equipment. But tea is easy. More on that in a bit.
We drink our tea Irish style, with milk. Sue uses regular cow's milk. I've discovered that goat's milk has almost no effect on my allergies, and tastes great. No, it doesn't taste like a goat, any more than cow's milk tastes like a cow. Another Wisconsin boy note: I say goat's milk and people make faces and noises about the taste, the smell, etc.
Have you ever smelled a cow? Great googlymooglies they stink. Live on a dairy farm. You will learn to love goats.
I've had goat's milk in my tea every day since I made this discovery in January 2009. It tastes like extra-creamy cow's milk. That's all. Sue can taste a difference, and doesn't like it in her tea, but if we put milk in our mashed potatoes, we use the goat's milk, and nobody else has ever noticed.
The goat's milk ice cream I've found is pretty good, but I've discovered something that ensures I'll never eat regular ice cream again, even if my allergies are miraculously cured: coconut milk ice cream.
Our local Whole Foods has three brands, and the two I've tried are amazing. About the same price as any premium ice cream, it's made with coconut milk and agave syrup, and premium natural additions like chocolate, nuts, whatever. It is simply amazing.
I can eat goat cheese, cheese made from sheep's milk, probably cheese made from pig's milk if it existed. But goat cheddar is about $10/pound where a very nice cow's milk cheddar is about $2/pound. And somehow, the goat cheddar just hasn't reached the level of complexity and maturity the regular cheddar has. I've tried it, and I wouldn't pay the same price, let alone five times as much. So, I eat about one percent of the cheese I used to.
I mentioned tea earlier. For our American readers, please note that tea does not come in bags. Tea is a tin of dried leaves, and you scoop them out with a spoon. One spoonful (a teaspoon, please note the name) for each cup and one for the pot, as they say. Boil water. BOIL, not just heat. Pour the boiling water into the pot, then pour it back to reheat. Put the tea leaves in the pot, and pour the boiling water back in. Wait six minutes. Use a timer. Stir the tea, let the leaves settle, and pour the tea into the milk you've already poured into the cups.
As long as we have access to boiling water and goat's milk, we're good to go.
We've learned to adapt while we're traveling. We're also determined not to ask our hosts to adjust to us because that's not how to be the World's Greatest House Guests.