Food Travel Hassles - (But Happy to Be On Vacation)

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Merry Christmas all. I have been MIA the past week as I am on vacation aboard a cruise ship sailing down the Mexican Riviera. And what an interesting food experience this is! (Now don't get me wrong.. I am having a fabulous time.. I just feel the urge to share this experience with you.)

I say that because I am pretty much having to throw caution to the wind with my food preferences because I just can't seem to adequately communicate what I want. I think the concept of 'no dairy' must be an American thing. Lactose intolerance is pretty common around the world so this surprises me. Anyway, our first night on the ship, dinner was quite the hassle trying to convey this concept. Ok, I don't eat dairy products, fine. That includes butter. I actually don't eat butter cuz I just plain DO NOT like it! Is that an acceptable reason? Apparently not.

All I asked is that my fish (or anything else) not be prepared with butter, but with olive oil, and you would have thought I was trying to hold up the place. The maitre d' was sent over in a frenzy and decided that since I asked for no butter that meant I wanted everything plain, i.e. steamed vegetables only. Excuse me! I want my veggies to have some flavor too! Just not butter flavor. Is there no culinary imagination or flexibility?

And then of course I have to feign a milk "allergy" in order to have my food prepared without butter. I guess not "liking" a food is not enough reason to request that I not be served it. I do have some degree of lactose intolerance, but really it is none of their business why my food preferences are the way they are. It is not for the maitre d', waiter or chef to judge.

Am I alone in this issue? I have found in my travels outside of the United States that vegetarianism, whether it be vegan, lacto-ovo, pesca-vegan (which is what I am, and a sort of made up category) etc., is a foreign concept. Granted I have only traveled in Europe and Mexico so I have no experience with Asia, Africa or South America. Have any of you? I'd love to hear about your food travel experiences positive and negative and the approaches you took. Maybe it's a California thing and I'm spoiled.

Send in your stories. I'm dying to hear them.

On a yummier note, the pineapple on this ship is DELICIOUS! I've been OD'ing on it, but it's sooooooo good. The guacamole isn't bad either.
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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