Turkey and Tacos: Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving is always a difficult holiday for being gluten free.  I don’t enjoy large meals or potlucks because of the risk of cross-contamination, the awkwardness of not being able to eat most things, and the stress of it all.  However, since Thanksgiving is about getting together with family, I suck it up and eat some gluten free alternatives.  I won’t go into detail about the gluten free food I ate: gluten free gravy is fairly easy to make or find at the store, as are stuffing mixes).  Nonetheless, even though pie can be substituted (gluten free pie crusts can also be found, and I enjoyed an apple pie from Maine Pie Co.), it is still one of my least favorite holidays.  It does seem like a while ago, but I have been very busy with the semester.

Another thing I did over break was go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. As mentioned before, going out to eat at a brand new restaurant is always a challenge for celiacs.  This one was in Biddeford, called Los Tapatios.  At first, it seemed like it would be fine, because Mexican food is supposed to be relatively easy to eat gluten free.  However, I had my doubts once tortilla chips and salsa were brought out.  I had mentioned previously on the phone that I was gluten free which they said they could accommodate.  When I asked if the chips were gluten free (I have been at other Mexican restaurants where they are not due to cross contamination in the fryer) the server simply said that they were because they were fried in oil, and she didn’t address the cross-contamination bit, but didn’t act like they were a problem.  I knew I probably shouldn’t eat them, but I was hungry. I ate a few, but later knew they were a mistake because they were probably contaminated.

Anyway, looking at the menu, I had no idea what to order.  From calling on the phone, I sort of got the impression that there would be a gluten free menu or at least things labeled on the menu, but there wasn’t at all.  I knew that I couldn’t eat things like flour tortillas, but I was unclear about sauces or seasonings on the other items.  The server simply said that anything could be made gluten free on the menu very vaguely, which I doubted because I knew that some things definitely could not be.  I got an impression overall that she didn’t really understand or care about gluten free, and it made me uncomfortable.

I finally decided to get carnitas tacos with soft corn tortillas.  The taco dishes came with a side of rice and beans.  She said that the beans were gluten free, but the rice “obviously” wasn’t.  Well, it wasn’t obvious to me.  She knew that I had never been there before because I was asking so many questions, and I have never been anywhere where rice was not gluten free.  She never once informed me that the tacos came with literally nothing.  They had no toppings, clinatro, lime, salsas, sauces, or vegetables on them besides plain meat.  The wait to get our food was also very long, which was why I started eating the chips.

I asked for some salsa or some sort of topping to go with the tacos, and she just said that I could eat the salsa that we had the chips with (I knew that this wouldn’t go with my tacos at all but it was better than nothing) so I agreed that I’d have some. However, she never brought any over.   I also got a gross looking plate of plain refried beans without the rice and it also came with nothing else to substitute for the rice.  I ended up eating one of my tacos and was overall really displeased with the meal and the restaurant.  I will not be returning somewhere that is not overly concerned or safe with eating restrictions and allergies.

Chloe Dyer

About Chloe Dyer

Chloe is a senior at University of Maine Orono studying Mass Communication and Political Science. In addition to writing for BDN, she is the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus UMaine. She has known about her Celiac Disease for a little over a year and has been eating gluten free as well as sometimes dairy-free. She is from Chebeague Island, Maine, where she grew up, but has also lived in Cleveland, Ohio and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria in addition to Orono.