InTheKitchenYeah, it’s me. But you know, I was thinking, we should have some guests come by specifically for kitchen days. I mean, I have several guests who are coming by over the next month or so, but none for In The Kitchen With…segments. I’m going to have to work on that.

In the meantime, you’re stuck with me. I don’t have anything new that I’ve cooked or baked  or made.

I just got back from Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together in Cincinnati and while it was a good time, the food at conferences leaves a lot to be desired. This is not the coordinator’s fault. This is… I don’t know. Maybe it’s our fault. We choose this diet or that diet, this fad or that fad. We have more medical issues and allergies. We have more choices of sugar-free, fat free, carb-free or low carb, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free, etc… Conference hotels can’t handle this. A lot of restaurants can’t handle this without it being a big deal.

Even hotel restaurant changed their menu and upscaled it and that just didn’t fit with a lot of us. But then, we’re not their typical clientele.

I was witness to this with a dear friend…she’s a reader, completely self-less with her time, one of the least judgmental people I know. She’s beautiful. Doesn’t ingest chemicals or sugars or toxins into her body. She eats a certain way and has to. She’s very disciplined about it. And conference food doesn’t cut it for her. It can’t. She’s one of several hundred people, quite a few of who can’t or choose not to eat what is fixed for the masses. Because of this, a good sized handful of us eat at surrounding restaurants. (It’s good to have choices).

I watched her order dinner at a restaurant. She was good to go with their gluten-free menu, but once she started asking questions, the process became more difficult, more delicate, more intricate. Having worked in restaurants and hotels myself, I can appreciate both sides of the issue. Trying to please the majority, but still being flexible enough to take care of the minority. Sauces and bases and coatings and such are pre-made in a lot of cases. The pace of a kitchen is frantic at best. There’s not always time to make a special sauce or another batch of eggs without the things you can’t have. Some can be altered, some can’t.

They took care of her in the end, but I was completely enthralled by the process. She’s very diligent and very disciplined. She’s an amazing woman and I learned a lot about tolerance from her over the weekend. She was patient and kind and even with that, I think she scared the shit out of one of the waiters.

I remember at Authors After Dark last year, a girl needed a gluten free plate and when she asked the wait staff in the hotel for one, she was given a plate of vegetables.

There has to be some consideration, some back up plan, especially when dinners and lunches are made mandatory or schedules are so packed with activities and running from point A to point C because there’s not enough time to stop at point B.

That being said, I bring a load of snacks with me. I don’t eat white sugar, white flour but maybe a few times a month, or several other things that are common at conferences. I don’t eat out a lot either. Maybe two or three times a month at best. It messes with my stomach and I’m miserable for a week or so after. So I bring snacks and drinks and coffee and I am constantly drinking water. I eat a lot of whole grains, whole foods, and organics. So, there are ways around it all until I can get outside and go to a restaurant where there are more choices.

As much as I love food, it’s the one part of conferences I don’t enjoy having to deal with.

Needless to say, I’m glad to be home. It’s been nice being in my kitchen, eating the way I’ve become accustomed to eating. I’m glad to have my organic milk, my sprouted grain breads, my Bear Naked granola, my organic half and half, Trader Joe’s. I feel better and not near as fuzzy brained. So, yes, even I’m difficult.

I have another long weekend coming up next week of conference hotel food and eating out. I’ll have a little more than a month to get my system back in line before Authors After Dark.

These coordinators for these conferences to the best they can, work with the best information they have. They can’t and the hotels can’t please us all with all our different issues. And yes, it’s an inconvenience to bring coolers of food and stuff, but if it works in the long run and allows for a more enjoyable time with readers, then it’s worth it.

(Of course, the Cincinnati Marriott in Westchester did have ice cream on the menu, by the pint, and I was able to buy ice cream for one of my very favorite friends and authors, Amanda Usen… That right there, was worth everything else.)

~lissa