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Gluten Free Antarctica (idlewords.com)
282 points by kawera on Dec 20, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 144 comments

As a vegetarian (by ethical choice, not medical necessity), I do my best not to lose sight of the simple fact that I'm the problem here. When I walk into a steakhouse with my carnivorous wife, they're helping me out by finding something to put in my stomach. If I'm on a camping trip, I'm bringing my own food, or doing my best to make it fair to folks who are helping me out. And if I'm visiting for dinner, I try to make it clear that I'm happy to scavenge sides, you don't need to do something special for me. Because, again, my self-made diet choices are not your problem, but mine.

Celiac is real, folks who have it should be cut a break, and in my experience, folks who actually cannot eat gluten are just trying to make things work, rather than being a dick about it.

But deeply screw people like this lady who make a voluntary diet choice who use it as an excuse to bully others and make people cater to them. They trivialize people's actual medical needs, breed a culture of "Yeah, sure lady, there's no gluten", work against whatever cause they're in favor of, and largely, they're why we can't have nice things.

One of my colleagues is a vegetarian. He went on a business trip to Texas and his associates took him out for dinner at a steak house. After reading the menu he asked the waitress, "Do you have anything that isn't meat?" She thought for a moment and cheerfully replied "We have chicken!"

That is funny. I had a kind of opposite experience, when I was struggling with a bad reaction to gluten. My wife and I went to a burger joint in Utah called "Mooyah" where I ordered a burger on a gluten-free bun. As soon as those words left my mouth, the cashier asked, "allergy or preference?"

Stunned and wondering if I was being criticized, I said "allergy" only to learn that if you say that, they have to clean all possible traces of gluten off of their equipment before they make your burger.

"Allergy!" Then the action started. As I watched two employees vigorously wipe down all this stuff just to make one burger, I felt alternately shocked, amazed, well-served, and embarrassed. Others in the restaurant looked at me like I was from another planet.

Anyway, that was one of the best gluten-free buns I've ever tasted.

And that's exactly the reason why people are total inconsiderate assholes if they claim alergies for something they just dislike. I look with disdain and revulsion at scuh idiots!

Imagine a busy restaurant, Saturday evening, 8:30 and you claim to be alergic to something. The kitchen must pull a five alarm drill in the middle of their busiest time. Make sure that all cutting boards are replaced, for example, everything must be cleaned thoroughly and they must be damn sure that there's no cross contamination whatsoever.

And all because an asshole lied and claimed to be allergic, while in reality she dislikes pineapple.

If you are really allergic to something please, please call ahead and talk with the restaurant, so that they can make appropriate preparations, without having to essentially lock down the kitchen for 15 minutes.

The worst is that people that claim allergies, or gluten intollerance without this being true hurt other people, who really cannot tollerate certain foods.

So your story makes total sense and the place really seems to care. But just imagine the same action in a full blown restaurant kitchen with a number of lines, which all need to be decontaminated during their busiest time.

"Allergy or preference?" is an interesting question. For many people the answer would be neither: they suffer physical pain if they eat a significant amount of wheat - half a slice of bread might be enough to produce symptoms, for example - but it's not technically an allergy and it's not life-threatening. You don't need to use different equipment for these people, but you should carefully check the list of ingredients.

I wasn’t aware an allergy had to be life-threatening to be classified as such. In fact, double-checking with a dictionary confirms it isn’t defined that way.

I grew up allergic to chlorine (swimming pools). The allergic reaction was/is eczema. This was not life threatening. For the past 12 years I’ve suffered from pollen allergy annually. Also not life-threatening.

I think that's what they're trying to get at with "preference", but I agree that word's connotations are a bit too weak.

To be clear, it often takes a hell of a lot less than a half a slice of bread. That much gluten is a nuclear bomb for me. I'm fucked for days.

Some people have celiac disease, which is immune-system related (though not technically an allergy), and can be sensitive in the low ppm, not slices

In many states, the answer (or even whether one was sought/given) is going to mean a lot in terms of law, liability, and insurance.

Yes, that's called gluten intolerance.

Most proper places will ask since people saying preference are okay with a bit of cross-contamination.

I saw a burger place do a full cleandown because someone was allergic to something in one of the sauces, it was the most coordinated thing I ever saw.

I was on a work trip once with a colleague who was both gluten- and lactose-intolerant. While there, we went to dinner at an Italian place in northern New Jersey. I wish I could remember the name. When she asked the waiter about dishes that she could eat, they brought out a whole menu full of stuff. Turns out one of the owner's relatives had the same killer combo. My colleague - no softie, far tougher than I am in many ways - was almost in tears. She couldn't just find something. She got to choose among many dishes that she actually wanted to eat. For people who truly for-real have these kinds of issues, that can be an unimaginable luxury.

You can see this when you say seafood allergy at good sushi places too. If you say allergy, they say "New cutting board, new gloves" to the chef. Sushi is a bit easier for allergy orders :-)

That's amazingly considerate.

As a celiac, I wish it were more common.

Celiac in the US shockingly misunderstood. The current gluten-free fad doesn't help.

Of the places I've visited since being diagnosed, Italy was BY FAR the best for eating out while celiac. Rome has some of the best gluten-free pizza. Florence was no slouch. And if a restaurant is not comfortable serving you (small kitchen, impossible to clean properly, not trained, whatever), they'll tell you up front so you can go elsewhere.

The current gluten-free fad doesn't help.

And that's exactly why this pisses me off so much. It massively hurts people like you, who really cannot tolerate certain food stuff.

I think its legally required in many places. In others it is about not being sued. And for all kitchen staff it is fairly important not to poison people!

Would you entertain the idea of a database of verifiable gluten sensitive people that the seating host validates upon check-in which affords this 'clean glove' type of dining experience across all sit down establishments? You maybe enroll in this service through a physician so it's legit and they can't question you about it along the lines of not being able to question the need for a service dog.

I think this would lock out all the people who ruin it for the ones that need it most and lower the burden on the kitchen staff. Thoughts?

It sounds good in theory. In practice it would probably turn out like mmj cards where anyone sufficiently rich can get a five minute gluten certification. And people without regular healthcare can't, but hey they're poor and shouldn't be going to restaurants. And tourists. Add to that the extra bureaucratic load on the restaurant workers.

Maybe restaurants could contract out to a dedicated GF meal service? Or have some fancy frozen GF meals available?

Mildly relevant (and amusing) video on how to avoid this situation. :-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orybDrUj4vA

In a certain episode[1] of a Polish TV dating show, one of the contestants said their favourite fish is a fillet "because you can buy it anywhere".

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yS3gsxAkBDk

In France, fish is often considered a valid vegetarian option.

In my german 80‘s childhood I learned this too. Vegetarians don‘t eat mammal‘s meat but fish is okay. For whatever reason.

There's a term for people who don't eat meat, but eat fish: Pescetarians.

I'd rather have it clear that people use the right terms, since some will probably complain about being given only vegetables when there was fish available, whilst happily claiming they are vegatarian.

it's almost like claiming that you are vegan when you are vegatarian.

I believe the reason is Catholicism. A sibling poster mentioned it being a thing in Poland as well (catholic), and I remember when I was a kid, on Fridays you would not eat meat, but fish was OK.

Having that tradition, that every Friday you don't eat meat, but fish is acceptable, seems to colour your perspective when thinking about what is being a vegetarian.

That's before Easter only, it is supposed to be about eating plainly. The 'no meat' thing is an historical residue, some fishes are actually more expensive than chicken, for example.

My teenage daughter's vegetarianism is about not knowingly eating cute animals - fishes are not cute enough for her. She'll happily eat meat-flavoured vegetables from dishes where cook and vegetables cook together. Whatever floats your boat - I'll respect that !

Here's the thing, in my opinion, that is the best attitude toward vegetarianism. One of the reasons we still slaughter so many animals, is that there is this misconception that for some reason, vegetarianism is an all or nothing type of thing. If our culture were more akin to, `I don't like meat like I don't like candy`, animal consumption would drop considerably. Both candy and meat are tasteful, but candy is bad for your body and therefore you will not have it every day. The other is bad for the planet (and your body too!). Yet, you should for some reason either eat it every day, or alternatively never at all.

Try giving her a lobster in shell. I as an adult got the opportunity to try Maine lobster; never again. The whole process felt like dissecting someone who I'd rather play with.

Prepared correctly that situation could be quite the ethical connundrum. I find bacon alone to have a nonzero effect on 'reforming' vegetarians.

My personal rule is to avoid factory farmed meat. 100% effective when buying for home, but I admittedly compromise when eating out, but by asking each time I plant the seed I hope. I do, as an omnivore, think everyone should see, and take some part in, raising, and slaughtering livestock before it becomes a staple of your diet. Meat comes from animals that died for you, not the store. Respecting that has more impact than blanket-avoidance in my eyes.

Same in Poland, some colleagues from India were very disappointed when they looked at the menu and saw vegetarian fish.

It's the same when I was growing up in Poland.

In Poland it's not about vegetarianism (until recently, nobody cared about not eating animals), but about religious (catholic) traditions. From what I've heard, the logic for fish being allowed is, in Jesus time, meat was expensive, while fish was cheap. So, you fasted by abstaining from eating the fancy meat and only eating the pedestrian fish.

lol she was right too!

not sure why this was downvoted. i'm not native English speaker and would have assumed chicken is poultry not meat

"Meat" is the flesh of any animal. So poultry is just a type of meat; frogs legs, fish, octopus, worms, all "meat".

Not sure about insects, but I think they'd be called "meat" too in culinary terms.

(Native British-English user.)

Yes, insects are meat. The kernel of a nut is called nut meat, even though it is not made from muscle fibers.

I think the line is drawn at poultry and fish sometimes because the input costs are so much lower than mammalian meat. CO2 taxes would incentivize this sort of vegetarianism.

>The kernel of a nut is called nut meat, //

It can be, but it's exceedingly rare IME.

I'm trying to remember but can't quite, there are other non-flesh things someone referred to as meat too, after a similar line to your nut example. It's an analogy, you peel back the skin and underneath is the "flesh" (like a peach, or any fruit).

You could say, when carving a pumpkin, "get right in to the meat of it", but it's euphemistic in this case.

English language is crazy.

In addition to what everyone has said about "poultry" being a subset of "meat", if you want to specify mammal flesh in English, you typically have to say "red meat". Of course, there are some who don't consider pork to be red meat, and round and round we go.

> As a vegetarian (by ethical choice, not medical necessity), I do my best not to lose sight of the simple fact that I'm the problem here.

I think there's a huge difference between following a fad diet and following a diet that is based around your feelings of reducing animal cruelty and doing a small part to combat climate change. I would agree going to a steakhouse where you know the whole business is based around serving meat is creating issues, but especially nowadays I don't think vegetarians should have to consider themselves problems. If there was less peer pressure to eat meat and more meatless options people would find it easier to reduce meat consumption also.

But you can’t force others to provide you more meat free options. You also can’t force societies values to change around you. I think the parent comment is more talking about accomodating the world around rather than expecting it to accomodate you.

> But you can’t force others to provide you more meat free options.

Forcing is a strong word, but if businesses and friends are more aware there's a demand for meat free alternatives, more options slowly become available until a tipping point is reached. There was a recent study that was saying beef consumption has to reduce by 90% to help avoid dangerous climate change (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/10/huge-red...) so I think we're well beyond the point where people that want to eat less meat should feel they're the ones causing a problem by voicing their preference.

Thing is, there is no healthy and easy alternative for meat.

There very much is a healthier alternative to meat - less meat. Americans are eating way too many calories and too much saturated fat. They're eating more than enough protein, iron, and b-vitamins. For the overwhelming majority of American consumers, simply deleting the meat from most of their meals would significantly improve their diet.

Less meat is still meat. Never said it wasn't necessary.

Check out the number of top athletes who are vegetarian or vegan. Go to a typical Spartan race in your state and you'll find a ton of top performers who don't eat meat. If you are in the US, there are enough healthy alternatives even outside the two coasts.

Also, this choice doesn't have to be binary. One could eat less meat - either smaller quantities or fewer meals with meat each week. The end goal is simple - reduce the number of animals who have to be raised and killed for meat each year. If one agrees on that (and one might not), then even reducing your intake by 10% helps a lot.

I don't see how that's true. How do you think healthy vegetarians manage to get by then? If there were more vegetarians, it would be even easier as well as there would be more fast food options.

While I agree, the best way to effect change for whatever values you think are good, is to lead by example, and to apply some pressure to the society around you. None of those imply force, as force has the potential to do more damage than good.

A good friend, however, would be open to choosing a restaurant that you know has decent vegetarian options.

>> You also can’t force societies values to change around you

I see your point but would you advocate the same stance for other ethical issues - refusal of restaurants to serve African Americans before the civil rights movement?

Having said that, I agree that I don't like the sense of entitlement many people have in restaurants where they demand to be served something the restaurant clearly doesn't usually provide. But I do hope these "abstraction layers" of animal raising, slaughter, meat cleaning and packing and then buying a clean, small pack from a local store get "leaky". People need to see what other species go through for that meal on our tables.

> But deeply screw people like this lady who make a voluntary diet choice who use it as an excuse to bully others and make people cater to them. They trivialize people's actual medical needs, breed a culture of "Yeah, sure lady, there's no gluten", work against whatever cause they're in favor of, and largely, they're why we can't have nice things.

You know, I can see where these people are coming from.

As a picky eater, you quickly get the message that your existence is offensive and if you have any wisdom at all, you'll never eat in the company of others. Refusing to eat what someone else serves you just because you happen to hate it is an insult, and people frequently take offense.

Is it easier to go through life with everyone constantly feeling that you're insulting them, or -- if you can pull it off -- that they're insulting you?

I don't understand what your complaint is here. You do something that is considered rude in both of our cultures (as evidenced by how you say people respond to you), but you appear to be aggrieved in some way that this is the case.

My complaint is the fact that not eating incredibly disgusting things is rude. Imagine being offered the following two choices:

- Drink a glass of fresh-out-of-the-chicken blood.

- Alienate all your coworkers.

Is there some reason you wouldn't feel aggrieved at this?

your attitude is really nice and I wish more people who chose a specific diet voluntarily would behave this way. I've seen toxic behavior in my own family where a certain relative just does it for the attention. Makes me wonder why militant-(gluten|veganism|<insert other>) have to form groups, and then attract people with certain insecurities. I have no objections to such life-choices as long as the motive isn't to convert others. It feels more like a religion.

When relatives complain, I eat cows and remind me how bad it is for the environment I usually point out that I don't drive, never buy anything wrapped in plastic, source my groceries from the local wet-market (which I can walk to) and never eat meat more than once a weak. And when I do I know where it comes from, and how it was raised. When I cook it it's almost like a celebration of the life the animal had. I often spend the whole evening before planning how to prepare it and don't plan much other activities that day because getting it perfect (and better than last time) is my own personal fetish.

This year I worked with a guy who was actually Celiac and at first didn't know what that was. I thought "oh my not another one of those" ... Getting to know him better I found out what that entails and omg - this is one horrid condition to live with. It must be insulting to anyone who actually suffers from this seeing all these wannabe gluten intolerant pretenders. It ridicules those really suffering from the condition and makes them a laughing stock at their expense. A bit like those parents who seem hellbent on proving their child is somewhere on the Autistic spectrum - just to get a special treatment for their (very normal) kids (who simply need to get off the screen, spend more time outside in nature to drain their energy).

something more lighthearted: (How to Become Gluten Intolerant) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oht9AEq1798

I was diagnosed celiac in 2004 and the recent arrival of "gluten intolerant pretenders" is something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand it has boosted the supply of gluten-free products (good for me) but on the other hand it has made me more self-conscious and aware that some people think I might just be fussy.

“wannabe gluten pretenders” are harmful to vegans as well. A lot of times I see gluten-free vegan food when I don't care about the gluten. It is like I am subsidising a fad although I am happy that people with actual allergies can now afford gluten free alternatives due to the fad.

As a vegan with coeliac disease I am very grateful that the fad somehow decided to pair these things together.

I got very sick some years ago when I moved from a vegetarian diet to a vegan one and discovered that most specifically-marked-for-vegan protein dishes contain gluten.

Er, from the article I got the impression the horrible lady actually was alergic to gluten. The author says to the Russian crew that she will not die if she eats bread, but she will get sick. I don't think people who chose not to eat gluten get sick from it, do they?

the article seems to be really dismissive about that woman's food preference pretty much to the point that it feels as if she is presumed to be a "fraud" without a formal paperwork confirming the medical necessity.

>I don't think people who chose not to eat gluten get sick from it, do they?

it may as well be that people chose not to eat gluten because they get sick/discomforted to some degree (not necessary full blown celiac) and may be still be searching for the cause (say by the exclusion method) or have already noticed the correlation of the sickness with gluten. We don't know, and i'm not sure that anybody has the right to know as it is her private personal life details. Yet we, at least part of the society, press her to disclose whether she really has a medical condition by de-facto threatening to brand her as a "lady who make a voluntary diet choice" as the GP did.

>No one has asked the crew if they have nut allergies, gluten sensitivity, hypertension, lactose intolerance, or any other kind of dietary restriction. Their culinary options are to stay home in Vladivostok earning nothing, or get on the ship and eat what they are given.

Russia is a bad place to have medical issues. I have no idea how people with digestive issues or any other issues requiring things like special diets survived through the end of 198x - beginning of 199x back then in USSR and those first years after the collapse. I don't remember such people around ... i definitely didn't pay attention.

I think it is a big blessing/achievement that in the West people have that option of following specific diets, be it a strict medical necessity, just a "fad" or something in-between. You never know when you may need that option yourself.

>> Russia is a bad place to have medical issues.

I was thinking about that too. People with (severe) food allergies die from them even in developed countries, where there are laws to protect them and the subject is close to the public's consciousness, e.g. deaths from food alergies make it to the popular press and even become front-page news (as the recent case of a teenager who died on a plane journey after eating a sandwich with sesame seeds from Pret-a-manger in the UK). I'm sure it's much easier for something to go seriously wrong if you live in a society that is completely oblivious to the fact that, for some people, everyday foodstuffs can be lethal.

So maybe the fact that the Russian crew in the article find the idea of food allergies so amusing is not their robust Slav character, but the fact that, well, perhaps because of that character, people with severe food allergies die very early on where they come from.

I know, that sounds a bit horrible to say. Apologies to Russian readers.

WRT Russians and celiac - I know celiac disease is far more common in western Europe than Asia. I'm not sure where Russia fits into this, being in the middle of the two. It's possible they simply don't encounter celiac at the same rate as in the US or western Europe.

No, but there is an overlap that a lot of (but not necessarily all) products with gluten also contain a high amount of FODMAPs. Therefore even people without gluten allergies or celiac disease will see their digestive problems improve through eating gluten free products because they are also usually low in FODMAPS.

Telling those people that gluten isn't the problem doesn't help them, because it doesn't change the fact that they can't eat pizza, bread or pasta.

I know people who have varying degrees of gluten intolerance but not celiac. For most it's in no way life threatening. One experiences bloating and bad gas if he eats a bagel; another has to sit on the pot all day if she accidentally ingests a saltine's worth of gluten; and a couple have conditions in between.

For the latter, avoiding gluten is pretty much a necessity. For the former, it's a choice, but one I can understand asking for some accommodation for.

There are also apparently gluten allergies other than celiac. I know someone who when exposed to gluten gets the sort of reaction that some people do when they eat peanuts - he keeps an epi-pen on hand because if he accidentally ingests some his throat will swell up, airways will shut down, etc.

I’ve read somewhere that celiac disease can cause psychosis to some people. Wasn’t able to find actual detils on it tho.

What makes you think she isn't coeliac?

It's an assumption, but in my experience, the celiac folks tend to be the "screw it, give me the hash browns" type, rather than starting a shouting match over their allotted gluten-free toast.


If she decided to go full vegetarian tomorrow, I'd absolutely support it. But I love the rest of her enough to disagree on this point.


Maybe she's actually an obligate predator, like a great white shark. Ever think about that? Such assumptions.

> As a vegetarian (by ethical choice, not medical necessity), I do my best not to lose sight of the simple fact that I'm the problem here.

This sounds like a contradiction to me. You recognize that meat eating should not happen, so it's a problem, but in the same sentence you're backtracking and calling vegetarianism a problem.

If you accept that eating meat is bad, then you're implicitly calling meat eaters a problem. Unless you consider that everyone, you should indemnify yourself. I would never call someone trying to do the right thing in a sea of those who don't a problem...

He recognizes vegetarianism as ethically good while also recognizing that pushing those personal ethics on others often results in a net bad.

That's how I read it at least, and it sounds like a responsible way of handling personal values.

That said, if we do want more people to be vegetarian, then instead of simply making minimal hassle for others, we could also take the opportunity to proactively educate in a caring manner.

If we want a vegetarian world, then instead of scrounging for sides at a dinner party, we could redefine the party to be a collaborative cooking one, or we could try to do more potluck, or we could be more proactive about choosing the meal venue.

Those options take extra effort and aren't even possible a lot of the time, so I feel like OP's non-aggressive stance is a really respectable default.

Not really, I recognise that using a car is a problem in terms of carbon emissions. If someone invites me on holiday, and I insist we all walk there, I am inconveniencing them even though I'm correct.

I think you can read "problem" here as "practical inconvenience" without changing the argument.

Nothing makes "I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain" carnivores faster than dickish vegans. And there's a difference between an ethical problem (killing and eating something morally relevant which would rather not be killed and eaten), and a social problem (violating the social norms of cooperation and causing complication).

I have Celiac disease. I try very hard to not be a burden to people, but in some cases I cannot avoid it. Sometimes I have to skip a meal like when a meeting includes box lunch of a sandwich. I’ve also learned about non-perishables I can store in my work bag for when I get into a pinch. It’s not that big a deal any more for me. Even skipping a meal completely is not something to care about. It’s one meal! I’ll live. Short fasts even have health benefits.

People like this woman irritate me because I get automatically associated with her.

For what it's worth, it seems this woman had specific dietary requirements, though it's not specified if it was celiac or something else.

She herself was complaining about people who 'became' gluten free after getting on the ship, and that this meant she had less food available to her.

I imagine Celiacs refer to themselves as such, not "gluten free". Likewise a Celiac in desperation would complain about fad gluten free eaters without any respect to when they started fad following.

I think it is clear the lady mentioned is taking issue not because she has a medical limitation, in which case the Russians have amble food to provide. Rather she is, as the writer further points out, under the belief that her digestive system functions better without gluten.

I usually just say gluten allergy because most restaurant staff don't know what celiac is. It's not accurate but it gets the point across.

A coeliac probably have given up bread years ago, and would not tolerate the possibility of cross contamination by having it toasted even if was available.

In my experience, this is the case.

If you've given up on shelf-stable GF convenience foods, Hormel does a decent job of marking and has a few options suitable for stowing in a desk drawer (chili with beans, beef stew). For soups, Progresso has a variety of GF options, including "creamy mushroom" which might be useful if you're trying a recipe that calls for concentrated "cream of x" soup.

"The worst place to be hungry is probably at one of the Russian bases, either Vostok Station on the polar plateau (with its slowly dwindling pyramid of frozen potatoes), or Bellinghausen Station on King George Island. The Shokalsiky's crew remembers docking at Bellinghausen during a period of severe budget cuts in the 2000's. Forgotten by Moscow, the group of wild-eyed scientists who emerged blinking into the light had been living for months on a diet of canned peas and cabbage. The crew took pity, trading their stores with the beleaguered marine biologists, and then had to subsist on cabbage and peas themselves all the way back up to Vladivostok."

I was a tourist in about 2002, at a Ukrainian station had been basically abandoned. We did indeed end up trading all manner of things for their station-made vodka which was...impressive stuff.

Oh? Was your ship low on fuel then?

God, this is great. My personal favourite bit is "I am tempted to go full Slav on Conor....".

If there are any would-be impresarios or producers out there, I propose the following format for an adaptation of this that would permit a wider audience: Audio is a word-for-word recital of the existing text (narrated by Maciej if he wants the job). Video should be simply micro-vignettes of the scenes described: the perplexed Russians (regarding gluten), the threatening Chief Mate, the unstoppable eating of Rodney, the scalded hands of Bill. I think it's got the possibility to be a cult classic.

Audio as a podcast would be just fine.

These weren't posted yesterday, just the RSS feed for the blog had been throwing errors for a while, and seems like Maciej has fixed the bug recently.

Oh, I see. I recognized some of them from before and figured they had just been updated.

"but the brochure warns us they can’t accomodate kosher or vegan diners. (Keeping meat and milk separate in the tiny galley is impossible, and no one could endure five weeks at sea with a vegan.)"

Interestingly DansDeals just recently organized a Kosher tour to Antarctica https://www.dansdeals.com/points-travel/trip-notes/join-life... and https://www.kosherantarctica.com/

I'm guessing the problem is to cater for more than one or two different diets on the same small ship. Some diets takes more space in storage and a separate kitchen.

Maciej, thanks again for these stories; I never knew if you were going to circle back to lede and I really didn't care.

Was a fantastic read. I should figure out how to get notified of all your updates, it's some of the most fun I've had reading, and reminds me a lot of Douglas Adams' "Last Chance to See".

> I should figure out how to get notified of all your updates

Get an RSS reader. http://idlewords.com/index.xml works terrific!

>or how close East Antarctica had come to a major oil spill had the ship been crushed.

Goofy question, but how does Antarctica have an East region? What’s it East of?

It's the same sense as "The East" referring to Asia and "The West" referring to Europe and the Americas.

East of Greenwich meridian.

Is the other demarcation the dateline then?

Yes, I should have said "Greenwich great circle" since the "meridian" is referencing only a half-circle in geography.

It's east of West Antarctica.

where the sun rises, that is east, mon ami

That explains what the direction east is, from any given point. That doesn't explain what a region called "East Antarctica" might mean.

Except, of course, if that point is between the South Pole and the Antarctic Circle some days of the year.

Rather less clear when the sun doesn't rise for months.

"The best place to eat in Antarctica is probably Zuchelli, the Italian research station in Terra Nova Bay"

Ah, at least for a moment I felt proud to be Italian :)

I haven’t finished the piece yet, but it’s really well-written and fun to read. Thanks!

Or, A Subarctically Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.

I would go again in a heartbeat.

My sister works there six months of every year. She's been doing it for about a decade.

First time's for the adventure, second time's for the money, third's when you don't fit in to society anymore...

I have heard just that before. Meme or not, there must be a large kernel of truth.

Maciej's writing was always fantastic, but this story in particular was so well-written that I'm very excited for the next one.

Also, if you're reading this Maciej, there's a typo: indedidble.

"Why do the Russians never smile?"

This is just a Russian thing. Sometimes if you're lucky you'll get a bit of eye crinkle.

I'd say Russians smile plenty- among trusted friends and family. If a stranger walks up to you smiling, it's pretty much universally seen as someone trying to pull a fast one on you at best.

Speaking of Russians and smiling, I got to go the McDonald's in Red Square shortly after it opened. The culture clash of the Russian staff being told that they must smile to their customers made for some great people watching.

I've gotten good results explaining this to Americans with an analogy to hugging. Most everybody likes a hug, but you don't normally go around hugging strangers, salespeople, etc., let alone asking them to hug you back.

I get a sort of cultural jetlag when I move between the UK, where I live and work, and then France, Italy and Greece (where I'm from). In the UK, shopspeople will smile at you by default. In Greece, Italy and France, people will only smile if they have a reason to smile, and showing that they appreciate your custom is not a reason to smile, I guess because it's taken for granted that you're welcome to spend your money at their store.

So when I go back to the continent, I have to remind myself that, no, the fact that the lady that sold me that magazine or that sandwich etc. didn't beam back at me when I paid it doesn't mean she was being rude, or disapproving. She just didn't feel like smiling.

It takes me a couple of times every time, to acclimate myself.

The funny thing is that both Greeks and Italians will smile and laugh a lot... in the right circumstances (at the table, when you say a joke, when you actually strike a conversation, etc). They just don't see smiling as a necessary component of a service they are paid to provide.

I wonder how I would be perceived in a place like that. I am introverted so I don't spark up conversations with people, but I'm always polite, cheerful, and express gratitude to people because the way I think about it, these are all nice and they cost me nothing to give. I wouldn't want to be perceived as insincere though. Is it okay to be a cheerful smiler in places where it's not the custom to smile as often?

Is it ok? Sure, in the sense that most people understand that foreigners are going to have different mannerisms. But that doesn't mean that they'll take your actions in the way you intend. It is still going to be a little stressful for even the most understanding of local people, and as visitors it is our job to do our best.

That being said, putting forth even a moderate amount of visible effort into doing things the local way will earn you social capital that you will need when you inevitably make a mistake that is more severe than you'd expect. If you can get to the point where you can laugh at yourself to smooth over any misunderstandings, then carry on, you'll be fine most anywhere.

As far as I know this is very common in all post-communist countries.

I guess we just smile when we really want to show our genuine feelings of joy / amusement.

Now you're just being lewd.

i read through that pretty effortlessly. the person writes pretty well.

That was just delightful.

Kind of non plussed by this fiction. What is the point of trivializing a specific diet? Even if you don't have a doctor's note it's not really anyones problem that you're eating gluten free; except of course maybe if you create some entirely artificial situation in your fiction writing. I think this kind of thinking has generated a lot of people pushing back at me when they should just not care.

I think the point is to trivialize an adult having a meltdown over receiving one piece of toast, rather than two....


Be a Man. Or even better, be a tough Russian.

Toughen up, right? That’s the message subtext here.

As someone who has been diagnosed with Celiac and who has a Celiac child I find this dismissive additude OFFENSIVE.

I don’t know anything about Russian or Asian Celiac rates of occurance, but I bet they aren’t that much different than the US. The only difference being awareness and diagnosis.

how many internet points do you win for being OFFENDED? is your CHILD also OFFENDED?

Do you disagree with the subtext here?

the subtext of what? your post or the subtext your projecting on the article or that of the article?

It is worth noting, that coeliac disease is a real thing, where gluten-free diet must be strictly adhered to. These kinds of dismissive articles, which treat gluten-free diets fads are extremely dangerous for those suffering the illness, since it makes the general public not to take it seriously.

The article doesn't complain about her and her gluten insensitivity. It's specifically about her insistence of two pieces of gluten-free toast. Like the russians said - can she eat potatoes? Then she should eat potatoes, end of the problem. Crying over not getting 2 pieces of toast is childish when travelling to the end of the world, even if one paid $20k for the privilege.

I should hope that nobody reads this article as a denial of the reality of celiac disease. I think it is possible to acknowledge that gluten-free diets are a fad while understanding that to some people, they are a medical necessity.

The article didn't read that way for me. I enjoyed the part where you tried to explain gluten to the crew, it reminded me of a scene from the movie "Everything is Illuminated", where the main character tries to explain he is vegetarian.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um2p4GlEbKg

While I agree with you in principle, we are talking about journeying to a far-reaching corner of the earth here. Had we been talking about space travel, this woman would have immediately been barred from consideration to journey over a thousand other people who were equally qualified yet did not have such dietary restrictions. I don’t think we are at the point yet where travel to Antarctica and supplies are normalized enough that we should expect to be able to cater to these kind of restrictions.

The people you should be criticising are the fad diet people. It is they that are bringing gluten intolerance into disrepute.

The advantage of the fad is that they have created much more demand for gluten-free food. My son has an allergy to wheat so enjoys the fact that the supermarket shelves are now stacked with suitable food.

Well, as noted elsewhere, they've created a lot more demand for food that is labeled "gluten-free". They haven't created more demand for food that is actually gluten-free, since they can't tell the difference; lots of people are willing to humor these people by giving them the label they want without going to the effort of taking the gluten out of the food. The same thing happens with "locally sourced".

But unlike "locally sourced", food that has been mislabeled as "gluten-free" is dangerous for celiacs.

As another side effect, the fad people do a lot of work to train everyone to believe things like "people who claim to be gluten-sensitive are stupid". I don't imagine celiacs appreciate that either.

Anecdotally, I have a friend whose father has been gluten-free for decades, for legitimate medical reasons — he said the rise of the bullshit gluten-free fad dramatically changed his life for the better, by making it possible to find a wide variety of decent food that approximates what he was able to eat before he got sick.

My favorite thing is how food items that obviously don't and never would have gluten are now slapped all over with labels that indicate they're gluten free. Guess what? Your dozen eggs are now gluten free! So is a gallon of (cow's) milk! And that bag of apples! And a head of fresh broccoli! And green tea! And bottled water!

What's next? Advertising gluten-free toothbrushes and paper towels and smartphone cases?

Reminds me of the legend (maybe true, who knows) of the salmon cannery that marketed its naturally paler-than-usual stock with the slogan "Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can!"

Almost all farmed salmon is colored by dyes in food, or processing. Skipping that step could be marketed as a somewhat legit health benefit. I have no idea if the dyes are at all harmful, but many people are bound to like their fish unaltered and 'natural'. Either way, brilliant marketing.

I am still hoping for a day when lactose-free is a fad.

On the subject, one of our extended family suffers from Coeliacs disease. We as a family tried 2 weeks of gluten-free eating.

It was illuminating! Certainly worth doing.

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