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How to eat gluten-free in remote locations

Friendly and helpful Ohioans are eager to make a visitor feel welcome
Friendly and helpful Ohioans are eager to make a visitor feel welcome

While on a vacation to visit the in-laws in the norhtern Ohio, the topic of gluten-free food was never mentioned (despite being near-and-dear to yours truly). The concept of not being able to eat wheat without getting sick in this farm belt community was almost as strange as an alien landing. In fact, the State Seal of Ohio even has a sheaf of wheat on it. What I discovered during our visit was that many of the gluten-free items available in restaurants that I have taken for granted in a big city are simply not even heard of in a small town. But, there are always options if you are patient and have some creativity.

The first night we were there, we all went out to a Chinese buffet style dinner. The owners there had never heard of Tamari sauce (the best quality of soy sauce and wheat-free). But, they were more than happy to make my 'hibachi shrimp' (yes, I know that is Japanese) without soy or teryaki sauces. Some garlic, oil, salt, pepper, lots of veggies, shrimp and rice noodles made it a full plate that was just fine... and all the other greasy deep-fried items on the buffet were easily (and gratefully) not consumed.

Having an open mind to what is available is easier than hunting down a place that will accomodate a certain kind of diner. Because my wheat intolerance is not Celiac, cross-contamination is not an issue for me. For those who do have this need, I encourage carrying alot of pre-packaged foods so that you don't get sick. Protecting your health is the top priority. If you can quietly provide some suggestions to a manager or owner of a food establishment, I have found that most are happy to help accomodate the needs of a gluten-free diner.