We recently drove to Big Sur on holiday for a week in California, where I grew up.
A lot has changed since I left Los Angeles to move to Argentina in 1994, from politics to the economy and culture. The landscape, however, remains pretty much as is, bar a rather more crumbling Pacific Coast Highway at spots along the cliffs of Big Sur. It was hairy enough at points for my youngest daughter, who is four, to close her eyes and say, “I want to go home.”
More change can be seen on the menus at some restaurants, not your Denny’s and In-N-Out Burgers but at a host of joints like on Fisherman’s Warf in Monterey that cater to my seven-year-old son. And in style.
My son not only has a milk allergy diagnosed a year ago but also an intolerance to gluten, a protein composite found in wheat and other grains as well as hundreds of processed foods. This makes shopping at the supermarket a chore and finding a take-away meal even harder. So we didn’t expect to be shown a gluten-free menu at a random restaurant or at a bunch of others on the Fisherman’s Wharf.
My dairy and gluten-free son was jazzed to look over the menu and find an assortment of his favorite: pasta.
He wolfed down a large plate and polished it off with a bowl of strawberries.
Along much of the California coast we found delicacies for our son. At the farmers’ market in Brentwood, where I grew up, we stocked up on his mainstay – fruits and vegetables – and bought bread, brownies, cookies, crackers and humus that he could eat without a fuss. The brownie and cookie seller said, “We try to make ours better than those with dairy and gluten.”
She was right.
All this attention to my son’s diet got our eldest daughter thinking. We were working our way back to Los Angeles through the Carmel Valley and stopped at King City for a coffee and a drink at, yes, a drive-through Starbucks. We opted to walk in and order only to find that we’d have to look for a fruit stand for our son.
That’s when our eldest daughter declared her call in life. The nine-year-old said she is going to open a dairy and gluten-free restaurant powered with solar panels so that her brother can always have something good to eat.
Then my wife warned her to stock up extra supplies because her brother has a huge appetite.
She pondered that for a moment and said, “That’s alright.”