Our exchange student Ida (who’s also gluten-free) is getting ready to go to Hawaii in just under three weeks. Her trip is with an exchange program – so she’s not going by herself or with our family. As the trip nears, I am feeling a bit helpless.
Here’s why: For the most part the meals are pre-arranged for the kids. The organization knows where they will take the kids each night already and the limited choices for food. I contacted the travel group and one representative said they’ve had gluten-free individuals on their trips before and for the most part know what gluten-free options are available for the students.
While the organizers know the basic needs of a gluten-free diet (meat, salad, rice), I don’t believe they have as strong a handle on food preparation and cross contamination. So I now I am learning more as I begin to contact restaurants in Hawaii.
Questioning Hawaiian Restaurants
So far I’m learning it’s easier said than done. Logistically speaking, calling is difficult with the four-hour time difference. Probably the best time to call Hawaii would be during my dinner time, when I can catch managers in a 2pm lull between lunch and dinner. It’s only a small inconvenience but I’m just surprised with how whenever I think about calling Hawaii, it’s likely a bad time for them (too early, not at work yet, breakfast rush, etc.).
Since I was running into that problem recently I did some background research online. One place they’re going – for breakfast every day – is a buffet in the middle of Honolulu. I found the restaurant’s website but it offers no way of contacting them. So I tried finding a phone number online, and instead what I found were these horrible reviews on Yelp.com! Now I’m even more ill-at-ease. But maybe these were all flukes and everything will work out — right? Good news is I now have their phone number so I can contact them and see about getting her fresh eggs. Because I am so early in my investigation into the locations, I’m not too sure what else I can expect.
Back-up Gluten-Free Options
There is other good news; I understand a grocery store isn’t too far from where Ida will be staying. So with any luck she can get a stash of food there and carry it with her. The other good news – Hawaii has tons of fruit! No matter where she goes, she will likey have that as an option; although fruit only takes you so far.
Another factor into this: the teenage factor. After I do all this legwork for her, it’s up to her and her chaperone to enforce it or stick up for her “gluten-freeness”. It will be interesting to find out what happens – that’s for sure.
I will keep you posted on the gluten-free accommodations she has and who was really helpful and how it all shakes out.