Getting My Geek On: Preparing for Comic-Con

English: Panoramic photo of the people around ...

English: Panoramic photo of the people around Comic Con in 2011 as seen from a helicopter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Comic-Con International starts today in San Diego and I am going. Yay! I look forward to getting my Geek On. It is four days and one evening of running around with thousands of other geeks, listening to some of the most talented and creative people in movies, TV, art, books, and, of course, comics. It is four days and one evening of getting sneak peeks at some of the awesome things being released this next year. It is four days and one evening of trying to eat healthy with limited options.

But Comic-Con is at the San Diego Convention Center, in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego. For those of you not familiar with the Gaslamp Quarter, it is one of the premiere places for casual and fine dining in San Diego. Some of our best restaurants are located here, all within walking distance of the convention center.

So what is the problem? Time spent walking to and eating at the Gaslamp restaurants is time not spent at the convention. So far I only have about two one-hour slots that I don’t have something I absolutely must see. With the crowds at the convention, there simply is no way to “grab a quick bite” anywhere. I have been checking out the menus of the restaurants close by and I will have to be careful what I order. I will most likely have to make special requests (i.e. can you make that without mushrooms or Parmesan cheese?) which will also take more time. Last year I ordered a pasta dish without the mushrooms and found a mushroom in the first bite. Luckily, I found it before I ate any so I didn’t have to leave the convention.

What is my plan this year? I am packing fruit. Lots of fruit. I have unsweetened applesauce, sliced apples, strawberries, cubed watermelon, sliced nectarines, and raspberries packed in a thermal lunch bag tucked inside my World Fantasy Con bag. I will still need to find a source of protein, but with my fruit stash I should be able to survive without throwing my entire digestive system completely out of whack.

Wish me safe eating at Comic-Con.

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Travel: A love/Hate Relationship

I love to travel. I love seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. I dread eating when I travel.

I recently was in New Orleans for a conference (also why I missed posting for a while). In preparation I sent my list of dietary restrictions to the event coordinator and even provided my cell phone number in case the chef wanted to talk to me. I received an email saying everything was taken care of. I briefly doubted but put my fears aside. They had my list and instructions. I had specifically put it together after the last conference I attended, back in November. Maybe the instructions were clear and no other information was needed.

The first day of the conference I showed up for breakfast and the protein dish was mushroom omelets. Mushrooms, a big no on my list so that was out, but they had a selection of cereals, 2% and nonfat milk and a large selection of fresh fruit. I was in heaven. I could work with this as long as I got protein at lunch. I also had an apple sauce squeeze pouch as a mid-morning snack (I packed enough for two per day in my suitcase just in case).

Lunch came and I got in line. When I got to the front I handed the catering staff person my lunch ticket with the word “Special” printed below my name. Cool, I’m special, but then my family and friends have known that for years. But they don’t always say it like it’s a good thing. Anyway, I was asked to wait to the side while someone went to the kitchen. A couple of minutes later a plate was handed to me. I looked at three large white cubes of tofu on a bed of some kind of grain and a pile of squash on the side. I called the server back and asked what he had just handed me and was told it was the vegetarian plate. I shook my head and said I can’t eat squash or tofu. He then asked if I wanted the gluten-free or the nut-free meal.

Apparently they had three types of “Special” meals and guessed at which one I should get. All three had squash as the vegetable side, and the gluten-free and nut-free had chicken in a mushroom sauce. I couldn’t eat anything being served. I located the event coordinator and explained what was happening. She apologized and told me she had forwarded my email to the head of catering. I waited while she went and talked to the chef, who she returned with about 5 minutes later.

The chef had never received my email and I had just been listed as special without any explanation. After about ten minutes of explaining my food restrictions he told me he would have something for me each day. He also suggested I could start with the salad on the buffet while he prepared my meal. I joined my friends, who were almost done eating by now, and munched on my salad. My friends finished eating and one by one excused themselves to go find their next session. My meal arrived, which was hot a delicious, and I quickly scarfed it down alone. I wasn’t feeling so special as I finished eating while the staff cleared the tables around me. I slipped into my next session late.

I’ll post on the rest of my adventures in eating in New Orleans soon.