On The Road with Heather Collins: SE Asia Style!

On the Road with Heather Collins: SE Asian Style

2/9/11

Hello Udi’s Gluten Free Fans! It has been a few months since my last blog post. What have I been up to? Last month, I spent three weeks traveling around Southeast Asia with my sister and brother-in-law who live and work in Singapore. I was more than excited for what my sister had planned for us – Singapore, solo day trips to Malaysia and a quick 3-day trip up to Thailand. This was my second trip to SE Asia and I was eager to return and enjoy every aspect of each country’s culture.

While the world was celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends, family and loved ones, I was sitting on the airplane contemplating if my gluten-free meal was worth the calories. Yet again, my order prompted a lively conversation with the person sitting next to me on this flight leg to Tokyo.

I explained that I could not eat anything with wheat, barley or rye (and some yeast products are also a big red flag). The passenger quickly remarked that her daughter, who also lives in Denver, had adopted a baby girl with celiac. She continued to explain how her daughter raves about our gluten-free bread. Wow! I mean, here I am on a plane from LA to Tokyo and the woman next to me is waxing poetic about Udi’s! Together we raised a glass to 2011, ready to embrace the year with a positive outlook both on a professional and personal level.

So, join me as I write about my travels down the gluten-free road of life for Udi’s Gluten Free Foods this year. Get ready for a fun ride!

No Soy Is Joy!

Ah, Soy Sauce: The brown nectar that blends together the flavors of Asian cuisine and makes rice sing and shrimp dance. But if you are like me and cannot eat gluten, you know what happens when that hidden little sauce made with wheat makes an appearance. Not. Fun. No singing and dancing here.

I have to admit; I’ve never been a fan of soy sauce due to its high sodium content and its overpowering umami taste. When I was finally told that the wheat in soy sauce was in fact making me sick, I was very happy to kick Kikkoman to the curb.

At times on this journey, the language barrier was bigger than the Wall of China, especially when trying to order a meal off a menu board with images of food drowning in a brown sauce. Brown sauce here, brown sauce there.

Not one to give in and order plain old white rice, I was up for the challenge.

Singaporeans are known for eating, shopping and eating some more. Hungry? No problem. Everywhere you turn there is a food stand aka a Hawker Stand, beckoning you to sit right down with your chopsticks and dig into a fragrantly pleasing bowl of rice full of fresh coriander, spices and, of course, chili peppers. On the other hand, there are several stands that emit pungent aromas that would make someone run for the hills, but remember this bouquet of culinary genius is what makes traditional Asian Street food, well, Asian Street food!

Everyday my brother-in-law, Paul, would kindly and patiently ask me what I wanted to eat for lunch. At one point, I felt like Bill Murray in a scene from the movie “Groundhog Day” since my reply routinely was, “I will go anywhere – we just need to make sure the Stand understands my ‘No Soya Request.”

Lunch became a game. A gourmet scavenger hunt, if you will. Determined, we would seek out the funkiest little place that had the most charm and down home Singapore, Malay, Thai or Indian cooking we could find.

And as always, we found ourselves repeating the same line about 20 times in a row to the server or Hawker Stand person, “No Soya Sauce-La, Please Uncle.” This means basically – No Soy Sauce please in “Singlish”. Yes, Singlish. Sounds a bit Adam Sandler-like but it really is a language mixed between English and Sing.

Every time I placed my food order be it Singapore’s famous chicken rice, fresh seafood, watercress soup or vegetables – I always felt like I had just offended the chef. I envisioned an irate chef reaching over his line, ready to whack me in the face with a rice paddle or clamor me in the head with a wok. And worse, I was convinced I was going to receive 200 canings for asking for a gluten-free AND soya sauce free-la meal!

Each bite was full of trepidation as I would sink my chopsticks or soup spoon into a bowl of steaming soup or curried rice hoping that this wouldn’t be the dish that would make me sick. And you know what? I didn’t get sick once.

You Had Me at Yom

Anything that has a word that is pronounced like Yum (Yom) in its name, you can pretty much bet I want to eat it and that it’s going to be yummy. Tom Yom Soup was more than that – it was sublime and it was my go to meal throughout the three countries I visited. When in doubt, look for Tom. He was always there – like a reliable friend who pulls up a chair and has a chat during lunch or dinner.

I literally ate Tom Yom Soup every day. It’s a Thai soup full of fish stock (yes, gluten free), shrimp, hot Thai peppers, mushrooms and onions. I made it my mission to taste each restaurant’s Tom Yom Soup. Some served it in a coconut, while others had a simple preparation in a plain bowl. Either way, if you are looking for a spicy soup and want some comfort the next time you are at a Thai restaurant, check out this soup. It shouldn’t contain soy sauce– but you never know, so it’s always good to ask.

When in Rome

Let’s get something out in the open right away.

After
my 24th bowl of rice and Tom Yom Soup, I caved. I didn’t mean to cave, because when in Rome, right?

But after a couple of solo day trips to Malaysia and Thailand, I returned to Singapore in dire need of a gooey cheesy, gluten free pizza! Armed with a package of Udi’s Gluten Free pizza crusts, my sister and I ventured out for a fun dinner at an Italian restaurant in Singapore. The sound of it sent my head into a tizzy.

Who wants Italian when you are in the food capital of Asian Street cuisine? Well that person was me. I really wanted to see if it was possible to actually eat a gluten-free pizza in a country obsessed with soya sauce. And second, I really wanted the Italian chef to create something outside of the pizza box.

Talk about a language barrier. All of a sudden I was talking Ital-Sing-Lish with an Italian Chef who recently moved to Singapore from Rome. Go figure.

It was decadent. It was pure magic. The chef even added his own Singapore flair with shredded carrots and a few chili peppers.

*Travel tip: Our Gluten Free Pizza Crusts travel really well in a suitcase and are versatile.

Ready to Hop

Now that I am back in the States and have had time to reflect on my trip, I can’t believe I am ready to travel again for work.

This year marks the Year of the Rabbit in Chinese New Year, which signifies luck and posterity.

This trip encouraged me to continue to be true to myself, listen to my gut and open my heart to new opportunities while living gluten-free. You never know. You could find yourself falling madly in love with a bowl of soup named Tom!

Be Udiful!
- HC

Heather Collins
Communications/Marketing Manager
Udi’s Gluten Free Foods

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On the Road with Heather Collins: SE Asian Style
2/9/11
Hello Udi’s Gluten Free Fans! It has been a few months since my last blog post. What have I been up to? Last month, I spent three weeks traveling around Southeast Asia with my sister and brother-in-law who live and work in Singapore. I was more than excited for what my sister had planned for us – Singapore, solo day trips to Malaysia and a quick 3-day trip up to Thailand. This was my second trip to SE Asia and I was eager to return and enjoy every aspect of each country’s culture.
While the world was celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends, family and loved ones, I was sitting on the airplane contemplating if my gluten-free meal was worth the calories. Yet again, my order prompted a lively conversation with the person sitting next to me on this flight leg to Tokyo.
I explained that I could not eat anything with wheat, barley or rye (and some yeast products are also a big red flag). The passenger quickly remarked that her daughter, who also lives in Denver, had adopted a baby girl with celiac. She continued to explain how her daughter raves about our gluten-free bread. Wow! I mean, here I am on a plane from LA to Tokyo and the woman next to me is waxing poetic about Udi’s! Together we raised a glass to 2011, ready to embrace the year with a positive outlook both on a professional and personal level.
So, join me as I write about my travels down the gluten-free road of life for Udi’s Gluten Free Foods this year. Get ready for a fun ride!
No Soy Is Joy!
Ah, Soy Sauce: The brown nectar that blends together the flavors of Asian cuisine and makes rice sing and shrimp dance. But if you are like me and cannot eat gluten, you know what happens when that hidden little sauce made with wheat makes an appearance. Not. Fun. No singing and dancing here.
I have to admit; I’ve never been a fan of soy sauce due to its high sodium content and its overpowering umami taste. When I was finally told that the wheat in soy sauce was in fact making me sick, I was very happy to kick Kikkoman to the curb.
At times on this journey, the language barrier was bigger than the Wall of China, especially when trying to order a meal off a menu board with images of food drowning in a brown sauce. Brown sauce here, brown sauce there.
Not one to give in and order plain old white rice, I was up for the challenge.
Singaporeans are known for eating, shopping and eating some more. Hungry? No problem. Everywhere you turn there is a food stand aka a Hawker Stand, beckoning you to sit right down with your chopsticks and dig into a fragrantly pleasing bowl of rice full of fresh coriander, spices and, of course, chili peppers. On the other hand, there are several stands that emit pungent aromas that would make someone run for the hills, but remember this bouquet of culinary genius is what makes traditional Asian Street food, well, Asian Street food!
Everyday my brother-in-law, Paul, would kindly and patiently ask me what I wanted to eat for lunch. At one point, I felt like Bill Murray in a scene from the movie “Groundhog Day” since my reply routinely was, “I will go anywhere – we just need to make sure the Stand understands my ‘No Soya Request.”
Lunch became a game. A gourmet scavenger hunt, if you will. Determined, we would seek out the funkiest little place that had the most charm and down home Singapore, Malay, Thai or Indian cooking we could find.
And as always, we found ourselves repeating the same line about 20 times in a row to the server or Hawker Stand person, “No Soya Sauce-La, Please Uncle.” This means basically – No Soy Sauce please in “Singlish”. Yes, Singlish. Sounds a bit Adam Sandler-like but it really is a language mixed between English and Sing.
Every time I placed my food order be it Singapore’s famous chicken rice, fresh seafood, watercress soup or vegetables – I always felt like I had just offended the chef. I envisioned an irate chef reaching over his line, ready to whack me in the face with a rice paddle or clamor me in the head with a wok. And worse, I was convinced I was going to receive 200 canings for asking for a gluten-free AND soya sauce free-la meal!
Each bite was full of trepidation as I would sink my chopsticks or soup spoon into a bowl of steaming soup or curried rice hoping that this wouldn’t be the dish that would make me sick. And you know what? I didn’t get sick once.
You Had Me at Yom
Anything that has a word that is pronounced like Yum (Yom) in its name, you can pretty much bet I want to eat it and that it’s going to be yummy. Tom Yom Soup was more than that – it was sublime and it was my go to meal throughout the three countries I visited. When in doubt, look for Tom. He was always there – like a reliable friend who pulls up a chair and has a chat during lunch or dinner.
I literally ate Tom Yom Soup every day. It’s a Thai soup full of fish stock (yes, gluten free), shrimp, hot Thai peppers, mushrooms and onions. I made it my mission to taste each restaurant’s Tom Yom Soup. Some served it in a coconut, while others had a simple preparation in a plain bowl. Either way, if you are looking for a spicy soup and want some comfort the next time you are at a Thai restaurant, check out this soup. It shouldn’t contain soy sauce– but you never know, so it’s always good to ask.
When in Rome
Let’s get something out in the open right away.
After
my 24th bowl of rice and Tom Yom Soup, I caved. I didn’t mean to cave, because when in Rome, right?
But after a couple of solo day trips to Malaysia and Thailand, I returned to Singapore in dire need of a gooey cheesy, gluten free pizza! Armed with a package of Udi’s Gluten Free pizza crusts, my sister and I ventured out for a fun dinner at an Italian restaurant in Singapore. The sound of it sent my head into a tizzy.
Who wants Italian when you are in the food capital of Asian Street cuisine? Well that person was me. I really wanted to see if it was possible to actually eat a gluten-free pizza in a country obsessed with soya sauce. And second, I really wanted the Italian chef to create something outside of the pizza box.
Talk about a language barrier. All of a sudden I was talking Ital-Sing-Lish with an Italian Chef who recently moved to Singapore from Rome. Go figure.
It was decadent. It was pure magic. The chef even added his own Singapore flair with shredded carrots and a few chili peppers.
*Travel tip: Our Gluten Free Pizza Crusts travel really well in a suitcase and are versatile.
Ready to Hop
Now that I am back in the States and have had time to reflect on my trip, I can’t believe I am ready to travel again for work.
This year marks the Year of the Rabbit in Chinese New Year, which signifies luck and posterity.
This trip encouraged me to continue to be true to myself, listen to my gut and open my heart to new opportunities while living gluten-free. You never know. You could find yourself falling madly in love with a bowl of soup named Tom!
Be Udiful!
- HC
Heather Collins
Communications/Marketing Manager
Udi’s Gluten Free Foods
Path:

17 Responses to “On The Road with Heather Collins: SE Asia Style!”

  1. Mi-Xue says:

    Thank you so much for your post! We’re looking to move to Singapore for new jobs, and I got really intimidiated at the idea of not being able to eat! Everywhere I looked online, I saw vacationers saying it was impossible. It’s no fun being anaphylactic. Your post definitely has given me new hope at being an expatriate in Singapore! Thank you so so so very much!!

  2. Bonnie says:

    Really enjoyed hearing about the Tom Yom Soup. I have found better luck eating GF in restaurants other than American. Mexican
    food is the best with their corn tortillias. Thai food has several dishes with rice noodles. I do prefer to make most meals at home
    of course and have had good luck with ordering GF products from
    Vitacost on-line. Japanese food has several GF items. I always
    take GF soy in a small plastic bottle. They even offer to keep it
    there for me. On a recent trip to Las Vegas at the Paris hotel
    restaurant they even had a GF menu and a complimentary GF
    bread with light snacks. Life is so much better GF.

  3. Joan says:

    We don’t have a Ralph’s here, but I can get a gluten free soy sauce that is delicious. It’s Tamari Organic Soy sauce.

  4. Shirley Gilbert says:

    There are gluten free soy sauces. One is Ralph’s own brand. The other is Flying Horse Soya Bean Sauce. a product of Thailand.

  5. Sharon says:

    I’m always looking for good GF food that travels well (going to China for three weeks this spring). Glad to hear about the pizza crusts… how long do they stay reasonably fresh with no refrigeration/freezer? Thanks!

  6. Leone Schnetz says:

    I have experiences like this and I haven’t been to Asia. There is no concept of how serious food is to a celiac diet person.

  7. Leslie says:

    San-J makes gluten-free soy sauce. If you go to the Web, you can buy a small box of individual restaurant size packets for only a few dollars. The packets are ideal for traveling in Asia. You can use them on your sushi or give a few to chef to use in preparing your dish.

  8. Karen says:

    After living and traveling in all parts Asia, we came home due to my health… allergy to wheat, and I was eating the wonderful homemade noodles with sauce when not feeling well, thus literally killing myself. I did find Singapore one of the easiest to get through ‘no soy sauce.’ Wheat doesn’t give me GI problems, but rather lung and horrible hives, swelling, etc. For future trips, there is a Swiss restaurant, Marche’, that was great. Many stations to order food fixed your way!

    Glad to hear someone else has made it through the maze of SE and just Asian cooking.
    Truly appreciate hearing about eating in various places. My challenge also includes a severe allergy to canola, that oil perported to be so good. Sorry that Udi’s uses it in some products. Look it up…. NOT GOOD FOR ANYONE! Glad the multi-grain is free of it!!! Thanks for giving me one product to eat.

  9. Ruta Prescott says:

    Amazing and inspirational! Thank you…..my own challenge seems small (finding something I can eat in lower central Alabama where Walmart is King or finding Udi’s products or something to eat that are wheat/gluten and soy free is comparable to finding lasting world peace!). I feel like a member of the tribal hunters and gatherers of another age….the daily struggle for food in a land where fried and breaded food is a sacred rite upheld by constitutional ammendment! God bless Udi’s Bagels….my key to survival here! Will also look for Tom Yum…..thought oriental wasw out for me…..you gave me hope!
    Ruta Prescott

  10. Nancy Z says:

    Love, this blog. I love Asian food and am learning what and how to order. Awesome help, Heather.

  11. Phil says:

    Heather,
    Great to hear that Singapore treated you well! Living here full time can be a challenge, gluten free. How long until we find Udi products on the shelves of some of the fancy grocery stores? (See- Brown Rice Paradise)
    Cheers,
    Phil

  12. Lonnie says:

    I think that LaChoy’s soy sauce id gluten free.

  13. Christine Auman says:

    Heather!!!! What a blog, What a Trip! I just came home from a Thai restaurant here in Phila. and opened my email and here you are writing about your trip to SE Asia. I LOVED it! Thank you – it makes me want to go. Keep writing! I enjoy reading and keeping up to date with your travels! All the best to you! We love Udi’s!! xo Chris

  14. Joan White says:

    Recently, I read an article in Gluten Free Living magazine about an experiment that was run on a wide variety of soy sauces. They did not find gluten in any of them. They are theorizing that the fermentation process removes it. Further, for those of us who do like soy sauce, San-J makes a delicious wheat free Tamari sauce, which is touted as gluten free on the lists of safe and not safe foods to eat. Check it out further if you are missing soy sauce..

  15. Jessica Plumer says:

    Heather, thanks for writing about your gluten free experience in Singapore. I was contemplating visiting and as always go into panic mode when it comes to my celiac diet. But you have shed some light and I have no problem for asking for what I want! I also wanted to say how much I enjoy Udi’s foods. I feel whole again since finding your baked goods!

  16. Barbara DiMattio says:

    On February 19 there are going to be one hundred vendors of GF food with samples at the West Palm Beach Fairgrounds Expo Building, 9067 Southern Blvd. from 11 to 4. Give it a go!

  17. Terrie says:

    Loved your comments. Have you tried San-J wheat free soy or Tamari,? It is actually better than the type with wheat! Richer!
    I love Udi’s too!

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