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How I fell a little out of love with Spain: Part 2, The Food


It's a funny thing, blogging. I was so excited when I started and thought I'd be writing non stop but then life got in the way, I went overseas, and stopped. I have thought many many times about what I want to write about but this is the first time I've actually sat down to WRITE IT.

Today I have already rearranged the outdoor furniture (which I'm thrilled with, by the way), unclogged the pool vacuum in nothing but my undies because I was too lazy to find a cozzie, hung out the clothes naked (we don't have neighbours), wasted time on Fakebook, and am now sitting here, still naked in this blissfully quiet house, loving the fact that I have the time and freedom to do all these things. I'm also loving this time of year in Noosa. Perfect temperature for nudity.

Shortly after returning from our wonderful trip to Edinburgh and Spain I thought I'd give my body a rest and began a milk and grain free diet. The milk I used to consume was Zymil, in my tea, every day. I used to justify this by saying that it is only a couple of drops in my cuppa. The reality was that I was consuming between 4-7 cups of tea or decaf coffee per day. Those drops were adding up and I inherently knew my body was still reacting to the milk. Yes, I am a sucker for good marketing as well.

Giving up the grains came about because, to be frank, I'm a tightarse. I found some very good gf bread which is produced locally, and sold at the markets for a fair price of $6 per loaf. Fed up with the hassle of the markets, I found local stockists who are charging $9.50 for the same loaf. What an outrage for a frugal glutenfreek (read tightarse) like me. So, I decided then and there to quit bread altogether. I just cannot justify that sort of money for BREAD. I can make a delicious gf bread but there is a difference between 'can' and 'will'. So, I'm simply using cabbage or lettuce leaves as my bread, and have begun using my spiral slicer to make zucchini spaghetti. It tastes better than I thought it would, especially with a good amount of strong cheese and our homemade tomato sumo (sauce). The real push to giving my body a break was because of the upheaval of travelling.

Was I making good choices for myself in Spain? Of course not.

And my body reacted by retaining fluid, bloating up, and being constipated. By the end of the trip I was feeling and looking like a balloon and was ready to come home. After all the lactose, refined sugar, gluten, copious amounts of red meat, and alcohol I was consuming, I experienced a couple of "episodes" that I hadn't had since 1999, prior to my intestine rupture. I was well and truly reminded that I have Crohn's disease and I simply cannot eat whatever I please. If I had kept going down that food path, I have no doubt I would've ended up with another rupture. Scary stuff.

So let's talk about the food in Spain.

I should preface this topic by saying that most of our meals were eaten in cafes and restaurants as we were travelling around too much to be buying food from the local markets and cooking for ourselves every day, although I will definitely choose that option on our next visit(s).

So, when you're ordering from a menu you are basically at the mercy of that particular cafe and their understanding/knowledge of "sin gluten" or "sin lactosa". After a few blank stares from waitstaff at the beginning of our trip I stopped asking questions about allergens and thanked my lucky stars I'm not a coeliac.

When you sit at a table in Spain, the waiter automatically brings you a basket containing your cutlery, and the ubiquitous slices of crusty bread. We even experienced a few take away joints that served us our food (which did not contain bread), and garnished the dish with a slice of bread slapped on top. And let's not forget tapas. Tasty little morsels of seafood, roasted vegetables etc, all presented on top of, you guessed it, a slice of bread. Depending on the freshness and quality of said tapas, you simply cannot just eat the topping and leave the bread out. It is yelling at you the whole time, "EAT ME!" So I'd take a bite or two to satisfy my taste buds. Those couple of bites, like the drops of Zymil in my tea, started to add up and my bloated gut was becoming harder and harder to hide. And whilst we're on the topic of tapas, here is what I now think about it:

 

Tapas is not a meal; it is a surefire way of tasting your way to indigestion.

When would you ever eat beef, followed by calamari, followed by sardines, followed by jamon, followed by cheese, followed by an eggplant dish? they might be tasty in their own right but there are way too many unrelated flavours landing in your stomach, and if you're in a group situation, you're fretting that you're not going to get enough of a particular dish you like because it's just a tasting size. Too much stress if you ask me. I'm very old fashioned;

I want my own plate of food. Just one dish that I have considered carefully before ordering. NO SHARING!

We went out to dinner in Maroochydore the other night and when the waitress mentioned that they serve tapas style meals I cringed on the inside and i could hear that "Ba Bahm" sound in my head as in the 'incorrect answer' buzzer on an 80's TV game show. The next day I had indigestion all day. Psychosomatic? Probably.

I love many things about Spain and its people, but their most famous form of snacking is not one of them.

 


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