“Boy those French, they have a different word for everything.”

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Last week I went on a lovely holiday to Paris for my birthday present – it was so cold, waaaay more snow than there is in the Highlands of Scotland just now, and on top of that  I got tonsillitis while I was there – but I still had a wonderful time. As I’m certain is the case for everyone on a gluten-free diet, going away places is always a stress – especially when you speak the language about as well as you can handle gluten! Whenever I go away, there will always be meals when I will inevitably eating just chips and salad to save myself the embarrassment of trying – and failing badly – to explain that I can’t have any wheat or gluten, but also to save the hassle of the puffed up eyes, swollen mouth and stomach cramps. I don’t help myself in these situations, I am not only allergic to wheat, soya and nuts, but I’m pretty fussy so ordering things in a foreign language can be like a minefield trying to avoid these allergies plus mayonnaise, tomato ketchup (I literally won’t touch anything on the plate if either of these have been on it!) mushrooms, truffles, fish, veal, olives  – to name a few.

I do have the apps for the iPhone which have the gluten free travel cards, but I often find this leaves me with about three choices – a salad, steak or chicken with chips or potatoes. So that’s what I ended up eating most of the time, and it was delicious. Our hotel was near a little chicken grill restaurant which I had been to before when I went to Paris on a college trip – this place offers a plate of half a chicken, chips, rice and salad (!) all for 9 euros 50… needless to say my boyfriend and I could have ordered one between us and still had some left over. I have read reviews on this place online and people seem to think of it as somewhat as a hidden gem – it is a cheap restaurant selling simple, quality food, which luckily for me happened to be naturally gluten free!

I did find quite a good selection of gluten free products in the supermarket on Boulevard de Clichy– pasta, biscuits, small cakes, breadsticks and boxes of readymade toast (this seems to be quite popular in France) – I bought some chocolate fingers and some chocolate covered digestive type biscuits. My lack of French was my downfall here, as after eating half of one of the biscuits I realised it was actually a coconut biscuit, which I am allergic to. I had actually scanned the ingredients on the back of the pack (I have no idea why as I hadn’t a clue what any of the words meant) and since getting home and going on the internet and finding out the French word for coconut – ‘noix de coco’ which to me just sounds like it is something chocolatey – wasn’t on the front of the packet, and I clearly wasn’t paying any attention to the ingredients on the back. Luckily I had a supply of anti-histamine which I have to take every day anyway, so I didn’t feel too much of a reaction.

I can’t say my lack of wonderful elaborate French food put any kind of downer on my trip – I’ll have the simple cheap chicken and chips any day!

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