general, Mexico

Gluten-Free Globetrotter Travel Tips for Mexico

 Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City
Victor and I on the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City

At the end of August, I went to Mexico City and Querertaro, Mexico with my boyfriend Victor. We toured all around his nation’s capital and then visited his mother and his original hometown. We went to castles, parks, mercados, the national cathedral and so much more. I was in awe of the culture, the friendly people, and the beautiful country.

Unfortunately, around day 3 or 4 of our trip, I contracted a horrible gastrointestinal bacteria. This was one of the nastiest stomach bugs I ever had before. I fainted for the first time in my life while getting my hair cut at a Mexican hair salon and a wound up in the hospital. Needless to say, this wasn’t one of my finest travel moments.

I felt so lucky that Victor and his mom were by my side the entire time I was sick in Querertaro. They took excellent care of me and I honestly don’t think I would have survived without them. While I didn’t come home and plan on blogging about being sick, it got me thinking about some ways to stay healthy, safe, and still enjoy Mexico.

Zocalo Mexico City
Zocalo Mexico City

Top tips for travel to Mexico City

  1. Stay hydrated with bottled water! Mexico City is at 7,382 feet above sea level and at high altitudes it is very easy to become dehydrated. Add in walking and pollution and you will become thirsty very quickly. Do not drink the tap water and stick to bottled water. It is very inexpensive so buy a large bottle any time you see an OXXO (a Mexican convenience store) or a pharmacy.
  2. Wear good walking shoes. The streets and sidewalks in Mexico City aren’t the best. There are lots of cobblestones, broken sidewalks, and construction. Wearing sturdy shoes will help you navigate the streets and avoid falls.

    IMG_4115
    Me in front of the National Cathedral in Mexico City
  3. Dress modestly. I wasn’t quite sure what to wear when we were out touring the city. Even though it was August, the temperatures weren’t sweltering hot and most Mexicans wore pants. I ended up wearing my jeans every day in Mexico City because barely anyone was wearing shorts and I didn’t want to stand out. Also, many churches have signs that request pants and covered shoulders to enter the building.
  4. Eat cautiously. This isn’t just a tip for those of us on a gluten-free diet, but all travelers. There are people selling food everywhere in Mexico. Restaurants, take-out windows, sides of the road, out of cars, and so on. This food smells delicious but isn’t always the safest food to eat. These stands aren’t regulated and you don’t know how long the food has been sitting out. You hear about tourists getting sick from the food but locals do too. Do yourself and your stomach a favor and stick to restaurants.
    Note: I think it was either a smoothie or a margarita that gave me the bug. I may never know but it is always a good reminder to pay attention to what you are consuming!

    Murals of Mexico City
    Murals of Mexico City
  5. Stay alert. This tip goes for any city! I didn’t feel unsafe in Mexico City but I did keep alert especially in the busy zocalo and metro. Unfortunately, pickpocketing does happen and even children are sometimes the culprits. Pay attention to the little hands that could be wandering into your bags when you aren’t looking.
  6. There is so much more to Mexico than beaches! I think most Americans assume that Mexico consists of only beaches and resorts in Cozumel, the Mayan Riveria, Cabo, and Cozumel. I admit, all of my previous trips to Mexico involved sun, sand, surf, and frozen drinks. Not this time and I am glad. Mexico has so much more to offer than the beautiful beaches. The mountains, valley, volcanoes, ranches, and inner cities are full of life, culture, food, and amazing people. On your next trip to Mexico, venture away from the beach and explore Mexico.
  7. Appreciate the people. I found the Mexicans to be some of the friendliest people in the world. They were kind, helpful, and appreciative. I had my boyfriend to translate for me most of the trip but the limited Spanish I had seemed to go a long way. Learn phrases such as good morning (buenos dias), nice to meet you (mucho gusto), and thank you (gracias) and you will always be greeted with a smile.

I am most thankful that my boyfriend Victor and his mother took me to a wonderful private hospital in Querertaro where the doctor actually understood Celiac Disease. Though the doctor didn’t speak a word of English, he always spoke directly to me while Victor translated.

Despite being so sick in Mexico, I actually really loved being in the cities with the locals. No resorts, no beaches, yet so much more to see, do, and learn. I cannot wait to go back and explore more of the countryside and the beautiful cities in Mexico.

My visit to the Clinica
My visit to the hospital
Muchas gracias, Queretaro!
Muchas gracias, Queretaro!
Mexico

GFGlobetrotter GPS: TAJÍN

Today is my first GFGlobetrotter GPS, aka Global Product Spotlight. It is through these posts I want to start exploring international gluten-free products I find here in New York City and during my travels. This will not be your average gluten-free product review. I want the most unusual and unknown products out there! I plan on contacting all manufacturers directly and getting as much information as possible about these products. I also want to feature the country the product is from and how to use the product or eat the food. Please let me know if there are any products you want me to research.

Product: Tajín
Country of Origin: Mexico
Usage: seasoning for fruits, veggies, etc. 

Tajín Clasico
Tajín Clasico

TAJÍN is one of those products I see everywhere in my neighborhood but had no real clue what it is or how to use it. I noticed many of the Latin American vendors around NYC were sprinkling this red stuff on fruit, usually mangoes, and selling it everywhere. Whatever it was, it was popular! From street fairs to subway platforms, a plastic bag of Tajín-speckled fruit is a common sight in New York City.

I finally learned Tajín is a blend of mild chilis, sea salt, and lime used to season everything from fruit, veggies, seafood, and more. The seasoning comes in both spice and sauce form and originated in Mexico. According to a spokesperson from Tajín:

Our Classic Seasoning Powder: “Chile”, Lemon and Salt in the different presentations 0.03oz, 0.05oz, 0.2oz, 0.35oz, 5oz and 14oz does not have gluten. In a medium term we are decided to certify this product and process as “gluten free”.

 

Recently, I attend Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, NY and tried my first chamoyada. This popular Mexican treat is a blend of sweet, spicy, and saltiness all in one cup. This snack consists of fruit ice, chamoy, Tajín, and a tamarind candy stick. I was intrigued by the combination of flavors so my boyfriend and I split a mango chamoyada from the La New Yorkina food tent. I can’t say I loved my first chamoyada, but I also didn’t hate it. It was a little too salty for me and the mango wasn’t as sweet as I hoped to balance out the saltiness. I love jamaica (hibiscus) so I think next time I will go for that flavor instead.

La New Yorkina Chamoyada
La New Yorkina Chamoyada
Summer days, sweet/spicy/salty treats
Summer days, sweet/spicy/salty treats

I never really questioned the “gluten-freeness” of the seasoning until a Facebook follower named Alicia questioned me after I posted the pictures above. (Yes, this was a HUGE mistake and risk on my part to eat first and research after but in this case it turned out just fine.) I am pleased the Tajín company responded to my emails and also happy they are going through the gluten-free certification process for their product.

How do you use Tajín? I would love for you to share your favorite gluten-free recipes below!

 

 

 

 

Mexico

Gluten Free Arts and Culture Tour in Mexico

Gluten Free Arts & Culture Tour: August 4-11, 2012 
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico featuring guest chef David Ferguson
$2800 per person (double occupancy)

Colibri Culinary Travel is offering a gluten free arts and culture tour to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Travel + Leisure Magazine’s #4 pick for top ten world destinations. For eight days and seven nights, travelers will enjoy farm-to-table, organic cuisine and classes from resident chef Alicia Rivero, and guest chef David Ferguson. Chef David combined a love of BBQ with a passion for strong Mexican spicing and applied his fine-dining training (he earned his stripes at Toqué! and Au Pied de Cochon) to create one of Montreal’s most idiosyncratic and best loved dining establishments, roadhouse-style restaurant Le Jolifou.

Casa de la Noche, a former bordello turned stylish inn offers rooms with private baths, spacious dining and peaceful courtyard areas. It features a water purification system and offers wireless Internet and free US telephone service. And, centrally located in San Miguel’s historic center, it is only three blocks from the main garden square of San Miguel, home of the famous pink cathedral, the Paroquia.

Included:
All meals, lodging, airport transfers, activities, classes, gratuities, tequila tasting, entrance fees, Colibri’s own self guided tour handbook.

Group Activity Highlights

Payment

Immediate deposit of 50% confirmed upon clearance of payment secures space. 100% balance due July 10. Email Cate Lazen at colibriculinarytravel@gmail.comfor payment instructions and questions about anything. Interested in this trip? Email Cate and don’t forget to mention Gluten-Free Globetrotter!

Refunds:

100% by June 23
50% by July 14
25% by July 21
After July 21 none

Travel Insurance:
Colibri strongly recommends http://www.insuremytrip.com at your own cost.

Colibri’s self guided tours (instructions, maps included):

  • Markets: organic produce, artisan/crafts, etc
  • Mariachi and salsa music performance
  • Botanical Gardens

Trip Does not include:
Round trip airfare to Mexico, personal alcohol, personal expenses (prescriptions, toiletries, etc.) and activities/cabs/tips outside of Colibri agenda (e.g. spa services, excursions classes).

Interested in this trip? Email Cate and mention Gluten-Free Globetrotter!

 

About Colibri founder, Catherine Lazen

Since my diagnosis of celiac disease in 2008, I’ve enjoyed the best health of my entire life on a strict gluten free diet. But I sure do miss my korean barbeque– and I’d give anything for an empanada or a spicy hot pot curry. After several accidental gluten exposures in hometown and New York City restaurants made me sick, I came to a painful conclusion. I cannot eat outside my own kitchen without serious risk.

In 2011, I  launched Colibri, my custom catered travel solution designed to set me and my community of special dieters free. I’ve vetted villas and haciendas, trained chefs and from bedding thread counts to dessert plates– I’ve touched, slept on, tasted and experienced everything we offer through Colibri. I’ve brought my personal aesthetic of causal elegance, taste for farm-to-table cuisine and commitment to the sustainable travel together in one-of-kind experiences designed to nourish mind, body and spirit. For anyone who has ever played it safe ordering the side salad, eaten out of ziplock bags, gone hungry, gotten sick or stayed home, Colibri offers once-in-a-lifetime foodie tours in Mexico and El Salvador. (I’ll add destinations in Costa Rica, Brazil and Chile in the months to come!)

Mexico

Gluten-Free in San Miguel, Mexico

I am still always amazed by the power of the Internet. Back in early December, I received an email through my blog from a woman was launching a gluten-free travel business. Little did she know, I not only write Gluten-Free Fun but I also write this gluten-free travel blog. Since I am always interested in learning about gluten-free travel opportunities, I quickly responded to Cate Lazen, founder of Colibri Custom Catered Travel.

Cate takes a slightly different approach to gluten-free travel. Instead of dining out, Cate brings in a world-class chef to prepare gluten-free meals in local accommodations. As a former resident of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Cate knows the area, culture, and most importantly food that is local and delicious.

Colibri Custom Catered Travel
Colibri Custom Catered Travel

Here are some details about Cate’s maiden voyage with Colibri Custom Catered Travel coming later this spring!

Colibri Custom Catered Travel is offering a special discount for its maiden voyage to Travel + Leisure Magazine’s #4 pick for top world destinations: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. For seven days and nights, travelers with gluten sensitivity and those committed to the organic, sustainable lifestyle will enjoy farm-to-table, organic and GF cuisine and insider guide services from Colibri founder and former San Miguel resident Cate Lazen.

Trip includes all custom catered meals and outdoor adventure, town and farm tours, musical performance, tequila tastings, cultural experiences and more. A spacious hacienda in the middle of the historic center of town provides both private rooms and spacious dining areas under one roof.

http://www.facebook.com/Colibrivacations?sk=app_163683253729146 (be sure to click on all the tabs to meet our chefs, view our lodgings, and read sample menus.)

The combination of world class chef talent and locally sourced, organic ingredients make all Colibri trips extraordinary foodie experiences and socially/environmentally responsible travel alternatives. Colibri travelers eat delicious food and support sustainable farming projects, fair wages, water conservation and soil preservation.

The Colibri launch trip is scheduled for one of San Miguel’s most culturally vibrant times of the year: the week leading up to and including Palm Sunday: the 26th of March through April 2.

In celebration of Colibri’s launch and maiden voyage, Cate is offering a 25% discount for her full service package:

$2000 per person
$2520 per person w/a single room

Payment schedule: An immediate deposit of 50% confirmed upon clearance of payment secures space. 100% balance due March 4.

Refunds:
By Feb. 15 100 %
March 4 50 %
March 17 25%
March 21 none

Travel Insurance – Colibri strongly recommends http://www.insuremytrip.com at your own cost.

Included: all meals lodging, airport transfers, activities, classes, tastings, entrance fees, tips. Does not include: Round trip air fare to Mexico, alcohol, personal expenses (perscriptions, toiletries, etc.), and activities/cabs/tips outside of Colibri agenda (e.g. spa services).

Register here to receive payment details and join our mailing list:
http://www.facebook.com/Colibrivacations?sk=app_263543623698301

If you book this trip, please be sure to mention to Cate that you read about this on Gluten-Free Globetrotter. Thanks!