At 3:30am, I left my hotel in Austin, Tx, to venture to the airport for my flight to New Orleans. Upon reaching the airport, I discovered it was closed. The ticket desks were closed. The security check-ins were closed. The shops and restaurants were closed. Needless to say, I was more than a little annoyed.
Luckily, the ticket counter and security opened up at 4am; and, I was pretty much first in line for both. I thought things were looking up. I was wrong.
My flight was making a stopover in Dallas, before traveling on to New Orleans. The flight from Austin to Dallas was rocky, to say the least. Thunderstorms raged around us, with flashes of lightning filling the plane. Once we reached Dallas, those of us who were supposed to stay put for our flight to New Orleans, were told to deplane and get on a different one. None of us know why we were told to do so. Thankfully, they boarded us first on the new plane. I was able to get a darn good window seat. But, the weather was not cooperating. They had to suspend drink and snack service because of safety issues. I was so happy, and thirsty, when we landed in New Orleans.
After buying a gigantic bottle of water, I wandered down to baggage claim. I was supposed to call my sister, to let her know I had arrived. Boom, out popped my bags! They were the first to come out of the shoot. I grabbed them and walked outside to call my sister, Alaina. She had not left her house. So, I stood there and waited.
Once she and my mom picked me up, she drove us to her house, where I would be staying. Then, the thunderstorms began, knocking out power for about an hour. So, in the rain, we headed out to grab lunch at FARE, a new paleo eatery I had read about. I walked into FARE, so excited to discover what paleo foods they had to offer. I went around reading each ingredient list carefully. “Nope, can’t have that.” I said, as I placed each package back down. After looking at each package, I determined there was absolutely nothing there I could eat. Not one AIP friendly meal could be found. I walked up to the counter and asked if they had anything that was AIP paleo. The guy behind the counter had no idea what I was talking about. He promptly went to the back room to ask someone else. When he returned, he pointed to a CHOCOLATE covered macaroon and said, “that”. I shook my head, in the universal “no” response. So, I ordered a fresh green juice. He went into the back room, and quickly returned. “We’re out of the kale juice. Do you want us to use romaine or something?” he asked. I knew right at that moment, they were not making the juice fresh. Who knows how long that juice was sitting there, just losing it’s nutrients. Boy, was I disappointed.
With no lunch in my tummy, we ventured to Whole Foods. I knew I could pick up a few items I would need over the next couple of days. Although I was able to buy some zoodles, a chicken, some fruits and veggies, I was disappointed by the fact that there really wasn’t a large paleo or even gluten free selection. They didn’t even offer their unseasoned chicken. I managed to put together a salad, with some shrimp, for lunch.
After lunch we visited my other sister, Alyssa’s house. She was still without electricity; and, my little nephew, Grayson, was not happy about it. He kept pointing to the television and the light switches, wanting us to turn them on. At least I got to spend some quality time with my family.
We left Alyssa’s house later that afternoon. They still didn’t have power. Alaina and I ate some of the chicken, fruit, and kale salad I purchased earlier from Whole Foods, for dinner. At about 9pm, Alyssa called to ask if she and Grayson could sleep over, because they were still without electricity. So, at about 9:30pm, they showed up. Grayson pretty much cried all night long. He was clearly unhappy about his new digs. I didn’t get much sleep that night.
At either 6:30 or 7am the next morning, I was awakened by the sound of crying again. Somebody was seriously unhappy. I figured there was no way I’d be able to get back to sleep; so, I went downstairs. I played with Grayson until Alaina woke up, a couple of hours later. We then all got dressed and set out for the day.
First, we visited Hollygrove Market & Farm. This place was adorable! I found fresh organic produce, grassfed and pasture raised meats, organic cage-free eggs, dried herbs, and locally made products. I seriously wish I would have had more room in my luggage. They even had big bags of pasture raised pig skin, to make grattons! I think I’ll have to get Alaina to ship a bag or two to me. I bought some local honey, dried herbs, handmade patchouli and lavender soap, homemade lip balm, and some fresh veggies. I would love a place like this close to my house, in Illinois.
Next, we went to lunch at St. Roch Market. There are about 10 to 15 different specialty food vendors, under one roof. I figured there would be at least one food there I could eat. Alaina and I scoured each vendor’s menu. She chose an Ethiopian dish. I chose a crab claw stew, that looked like it would work for me, according to the menu. I also ordered a charcuterie plate from Shank Charcuterie, knowing I could enjoy some of it. I would share the foods I couldn’t eat with my sisters and mom. Another vendor had a watermelon juice; so, I ordered up a glass to wash down my meal. As soon as I took one bite of my crab claw stew, I knew I had just made a huge mistake. I immediately spit it into my napkin, and flushed my mouth with water. I also popped a couple of charcoal capsules. I had just been glutened. My mom took the stew away, to ask the vendor if there was flour in it. There was. Now, mind you, nowhere on the menu had they mentioned roux or flour! The menu read smothered veggies and crab claws. I was pretty angry. There were no gluten free options at all! I mean, a couple of the foods were gluten free naturally; but, no regard was given to anyone who needed to know if there was gluten in the dishes offered. Is no one in New Orleans gluten free? I picked at the charcuterie plate; but, still left hungry.
Still determined to find some safe eats, Alaina and I set out to find The Peacebaker, a gluten free bakery. When we reached it, we were met with a sign that said they were temporarily closed. After a bit of phone research, I discovered their url was up for sale. I think it’s pretty safe to say, that temporary status has moved into permanent status. I was beyond bummed.
Then, Alaina remembered The Green Fork, a gluten free eatery in Metairie, LA. She was as determined as I was to find something for me to eat. Walking into The Green Fork, I let out a sigh of relief. Not only did they have some wonderful gluten free treats to enjoy, they also had pre-made paleo meals. I actually could eat some of them, even on the AIP. Maybe there was hope for New Orleans. Let’s not dwell on the fact that they’re located in the suburbs, and not actually in the city of New Orleans. Oh, and I also want to remark on how friendly and accommodating the staff was. They were more than happy to make a few substitutions for me. Unfortunately, I was so excited, I forgot to take some photos.
That night, I decided just to cook at Alaina’s house. My mom brought over some marinated (in herbs and balsamic vinegar) lamb chops, which I oven braised. I also cooked some zoodles with bacon and bone broth. And, we also had reheated chicken and leftover kale salad. I knew I was safe eating this meal. We enjoyed a completely AIP compliant meal. Then, I said my goodbyes, and headed to bed.
The next morning, I was up at 4am, for my flight back home.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in New Orleans. I always thought they were much more hip to the times. Maybe it’s because, when I lived there, I hung out with a motley crew of artists, musicians, and writers. I didn’t have to worry about my diet back then. I didn’t have to check every menu and then verify all ingredients. It just seems to me they have a long way to go before anyone on a gluten free, paleo, or AIP diet can eat out safely.
Now, I want everyone to know, I’m not dissing my hometown. Even I admit, I was suffering from extreme exhaustion from my travels to Paleo F(x), and the bad weather that followed me to New Orleans. It is highly possible I was a teeny bit more crabby than usual. Not to mention the fact, I had just visited a place that was all paleo, all the time. I thoroughly loved visiting Whole Foods, Hollygrove Market & Farm, and The Green Fork. Had it not been for those places, and my family, I would have surely starved. All I can say to all of you AIPers, be prepared, if you visit New Orleans. I think it’s best to follow my 10 Tips For Traveling on The AIP. It’s truly a beautiful city. They just need to learn to be more respectful of those of us with food allergies and specialty diets.
As always, I wish you good health……..and, good food!