How to Fail at a Self-Imposed Challenge

At the beginning of August, I swore I would not eat out at all because I feared that I have been getting glutened too often when eating at restaurants. Food prepared anywhere other than a dedicated gluten free space just isn’t safe. I knew this was going to be a major challenge, and obviously I failed at it. Here’s what happened . . .

Fail #1

RATIONALE: Last week I went to the Summervale festival at Burlington’s Intervale. There were all sorts of food vendors, but there were no safe gluten free options there. Vendors included Skinny Pancake, American Flatbread, Bluebird BBQ, and El Cortijo Taqueria. I noticed several sources of cross-contamination (shared grills, etc.). City Market had a sauerkraut-making demonstration, which was super fun. We got to take home two jars of sauerkraut-in-the-making, which has to sit and ferment for a while.

El Cortijo menu
Here’s the menu/placemat

It started to rain and we were hungry, so we could either just drive the hour home or try to find somewhere safe to eat.

WHERE: We braved downtown Burlington traffic for dinner at El Cortijo Taqueria. If I don’t get anything fried, I am generally safe there. That means no chips and salsa, and also apparently, no sweet potato taco because when I ordered it, the waitress informed us that they flash-fry the potatoes in the cross-contamination filled deep fryer. Kudos to her for telling me, but thumbs down to the restaurant for not marking gf options on the menu. I’ve ordered that taco before . . . and probably wondered what was making me sick.


Fail #2
RATIONALE: Today I was out and about in Montpelier, over an hour from home. I had made plans to go out with an old friend. You know, social stuff.

WHERE: Sarducci’s in Montpelier. They know what they are talking about when it comes to gluten free food. They even have Against the Grain gluten free baguettes that they put in tinfoil and heat in the oven and then serve it sliced with garlic oil. YUM. A major treat! I ordered a salad with salmon.


Fail #3
RATIONALE: I had a meeting in Middlebury and a group of people went out to eat after. Work related . . .

WHERE: 51 Main, Middlebury. What a major fail. I was so disappointed with this place. I was fine the first time I ate there. I got glutened the second time and was sick for days. I tried to take precautions this time by asking for a plain grilled chicken sandwich–no pesto, no mayo–just a plain Udi’s bun. I totally got glutened from something. They grilled the bun, probably on a contaminated area.

VERDICT: Not great! I want to go in there, march into the kitchen, and give them a lesson about cross contamination. If you look at their gluten free menu online, there are a couple red flags. A big one is having french fries on it. They do not have a dedicated gluten free fryer so their french fries are full of gluten. They proclaim to be knowledgable about food allergies, but I question if they actually are.

It is almost the end of August. After getting glutened at 51 Main the last time I ate out, I’ve been better about eating at home. Coming up with inventive dinner ideas has been hard. I’m really tired of grilled chicken. Here’s some of the better meals I’ve made this month:

  • gf pasta with pesto cream sauce, salad
  • gf pizza with pesto, tomatoes, turkey pepperoni, and smoked fresh mozzarella
  • scrambled eggs, Plymouth cheese, fried potatoes and onions (and rosemary!), turkey bacon
  • Spanish rice and black beans

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