I spent a couple of weeks in my boyfriend’s home town of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, just 5 days after being diagnosed as Coeliac. I knew it was going to be difficult as I had just found out and didn’t have much knowledge of everything I could and couldn’t have yet. I figured that I would be very careful and only eat what I was sure I was allowed…this turned out to be pretty frustrating in a small town where everyone wanted to take us out for breakfast, lunch and dinner as we hadn’t seen them in over two years.
After a long flight and car ride to Iowa from the nearest international airport, I was starving. I’d already consumed everything I’d brought with me as a result of boredom and not much of a meal on the plane. We arrived at John’s parents house to find that his mum had already been shopping to buy me a few gluten free treats. She knows that I can’t live without my cereal and had generously bought me a couple of boxes of gluten free cereal. This was to be my first experience of Envirokids…. I poured myself a huge bowl of frosted flakes and gorilla munch as soon as I arrived….delicious and hard to tell that they are not ‘normal’ cereals unlike some others I had already got my hands on in the UK.
That night we had been invited to a family BBQ with lots of different foods I wasn’t sure whether or not I could have. Lucky for me it turned out that one of John’s cousins also had coeliacs so I decided my best bet was to eat whatever she was eating, figuring that she must at least have more of a clue than me. When the time came to leave the party, my jet lag was severely catching up with me and I was glad I’d eaten the bowl of cereal before coming out. Either John’s cousin hadn’t been very hungry, was pretty fussy or there was less that I could eat than I first thought!
The next morning the first thing I did (after eating more delicious Envirokids) wasÂ travel downÂ to the local supermarket in search of gluten free delights. There are two large supermarkets in Mount Pleasant, one being Hy-Vee and the other a huge Wallmart. I wrongly assumed that being a huge corporation Wallmart would cater for the gluten free but it turned out that they didn’t even have a gluten free section and hardly any of their products say whether or not they are gluten free.
Hy-Vee on the other hand, a supermarket commonly found in the mid-west, was far more gluten free friendly. They had a whole section full of gluten free products such as cereals, breads, cakes, pasta and cookies as well as gluten free labelling on quite a few of their ‘regular’ products. Later on I was so glad I’d found Hy-Vee because the groceries I bought there would be the makings of my meals before, after and during visits to some gluten un-friendly restaurants…..
Pizza Ranch is an all you can eat pizza buffet that John’s gran took us to. The only things I ate that I was sure wouldn’t make me sick were baby plum tomatoes and cucumber from the salad buffet and a diet mountain dew from the soda fountain….exciting!
Mount Hamill Tap is a chicken bar and restaurant not far from Mount Pleasant. With everything fried and breaded this definately wasn’t the best place for someone trying to avoid gluten. I ate some tasty home made gluten free pasta and veggies en route to the restaurant and drank 3 Amaretto and cokes when I was there while everyone ate…at least some of their drinks are gluten free!
Breadeaux Pizza is a takeout pizza place with a few tables to sit in. I think they do a few baked potatoes which should be gluten free but other than that it’s a big gluten fest. Here I brought and ate something I’d made at home.
Little Mexico is a fantastic little Mexican restaurant situated in the town square. I probably could have eaten a few things here as they serve some of their dishes like tacos and fajitas with traditional corn tortillas as well as wheat ones. I didn’t eat anything on this occasion but I have eaten here before and will again.
Mount Pleasant is a lovely little town of around 8,000 people. They have one good supermarket with gluten free options so I could survive for a while but I hope that no one in this town has Coeliac disease or they will have to go pretty far from town for a sit down meal!