I never wanted to be one of those families that didn’t go on foreign holidays because they didn’t like foreign food (or ‘foreign muck’ as it would no doubt be described in a sitcom). But that’s pretty much what we’ve become. And you can add foreign drink to the foreign food.
I’d like to say it’s just the kids, but I have to admit it’s me as well. I love Indian food and Thai food. It’s the food closer to home I’m not so keen on. And isn’t so keen on me.
Being a vegetarian in most parts of Europe isn’t easy. Being a vegetarian with an intolerance to wheat and to fried food is pretty impossible.
Before I had the kids (and the intolerances), I would just live on chips, salad and ice cream for a week. It’s all vegetarian and I was fine. Now I’m not fine.
In France, even in Disneyland, you can eat salad with every meal and there’s plenty of fruit for breakfast, but close inspection of a menu reveals most of the vegetarian choices contain fish.
I start the holiday eating salad, fruit and rice cakes. So I’ll be hungry, but it won’t kill me. But I realise I need some bulk. My stomach is worse than ever.
For once I feel I have to eat wheat. Bread. A nice cheese sandwich. The French love cheese, don’t they? Only with ham, it turns out. I can’t even get a cheese sandwich. So, like my son, I realise there is nothing for it but to eat pizza.
Add to this a daughter who won’t eat ‘France food’ (or ‘Italy food’ for that matter) and a son who lives on milk at home, but won’t drink foreign milk and we are pretty much buggered.
My kids will drink water. They just don’t like it very much. My son drinks milk and my daughter drinks orange juice (without bits), apple juice and Fruit Shoot. She won’t touch any foreign form of juice because it either tastes funny, contains bits, or most likely both.
After a difficult trip to Italy last year (that is a whole other story, or series of stories), in which every day was a constant battle to get my daughter to drink, I was determined not to repeat the experience. All I needed to do was pack enough cartons of orange juice and apple juice and bottles of Fruit Shoot to get her through.
And some rice cakes, peanut butter, Green & Blacks and Nakd cereal bars for me. Oh, and some Rice Krispie bars in case she refused to eat breakfast. The result – one extra (and very heavy) suitcase to Disneyland Paris. My husband says it’s like going on holiday with his Grandma. (Although it doesn’t take him long to start asking if we’ve brought any snacks with us!)
But I was right. None of the drinks at Disneyland pass my daughter’s test. She won’t even eat the bread. It’s ‘France bread’. No matter that she would love the same bread if it came from Tesco. Thank goodness for McDonalds, whose chicken nuggets and fries taste the same as they do at home. But they don’t do Fruit Shoots or orange juice without bits.
My son, a fussy vegetarian, is living on pizza and chips. With dry cereal for breakfast because he doesn’t like the milk. I nearly wept with joy when amongst all the junk food at Disneyland I found a stall selling black bananas (he won’t eat yellow ones) for ‘just’ 1 euro.
I love Disneyland and I love holidays. But we won’t be going abroad too often. Me and my kids with all our funny quirks really need our good old British food.