Travel Tales of Gluten and Maybe E Coli.

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Hello there, it’s me, Anne. It’s been a while. I’ve been off traveling around the world, working a lot and potentially having, and recovering from, e coli. Fun!

In all honesty I do want to share these amazing Moroccan-Spiced Turkey Burgers with you all because they’re simple and delicious… but I also have so, so many thoughts on my travels. I couldn’t decide whether to break this up into two posts or not, plus I have been procrastinating a lot this week/only yesterday did I start to feel like my normal self. IE: regular-ish bowel movements and having my appetite back.

TMI? Then I would stop reading now. Although this post won’t only consist of tales of my bowel movements, but that topic is far from being dismissed.

First of all, I consumed a lot of gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol and loved every second of it. It is vacation after all.  To be honest, before I got sick (thankfully only the last two days of the trip) gluten and dairy were not bothering me like they normally do. I knew to expect this because of my travels to Asia last year when I discovered that I could have many, many baguettes and Bahn-Mi’s and my tummy was totally fine. So, you better believe the first thing I did when we landed in Paris was order Petit Dejuner Francais a.k.a. GLUTEN.  Just like in Vietnam, my stomach digested that gluten and continued on with it’s bad self.

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Mmm all the gluten.

The implications of this, while exciting to indulge while traveling, is very disturbing. What do we do to our wheat here in the USA that makes us sick? I have theories and so do many scientists. But this is not a scientific blog and I am not going to go in depth, but what I will say is that we clearly modify our wheat and we utilize GLUTEN in our wheat products more than Europeans/Africans/Asians/seemingly everyone except America. This is coming from someone who experiences first hand the stark difference in the way her body digests wheat and gluten outside of North America and if you have issues here, I bet that you would experience the same moment of joy while traveling abroad that you too, can enjoy a baguette without negative repercussions for the first time in a very long time.

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The Seine

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Inside Notre Dame

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I just had to include more pictures of Paris. We were only there for 6 hours but it’s Paris, so…

Moving on.

Barcelona. The land of Tapas aka grazing all day long. I LOVED this. It’s a much more relaxed way of going through your day, plus I never truly felt too “full”. I felt like I ate just the right amount because we were eating small meals pretty much all day long. Again, lots of gluten (tomato bread!), meats and cheeses were consumed. The cheese didn’t bother me because none of it is processed or “fake” it’s all very real, aged and delicious.

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The only thing I missed was breakfast, they don’t really do breakfast like we do here because they eat more later in the day. That’s all well and good, I just don’t have much interest in eating a croissant or baguette with espresso for breakfast. Bring on the protein! We did as the Catalonians do on a couple of mornings, but we were able to find some amazing healthy breakfast/brunch spots on the other days. Another thing: nothing really opens until 9 or 10am so there’s no point in waking up super early besides getting a morning workout in. I really enjoyed sleeping in and taking our time in the morning and want to implement that mentality in my day-to-day routine. Wake up, leisurely drink my coffee, read the news, and then have breakfast a couple hours later. I really enjoyed that.

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This place was super popular and for good reason: this brunch was unreal! 

One of my favorite things we did was run to Park Guell one morning, a gorgeous park in Barcelona. We were staying about a mile and a half to two miles away from the park that has some of Gaudi’s (famous Modernist architect with a very distinct style) most famous  architectural structures sitting above the city. While, completely uphill, we were able to see more of the Gracia neighborhood on our way to the park, and quickly. I want to try to run more when I travel because it was a really fun way to explore the city and see the sights.

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Park Guell

Major takeaways from Barcelona: take your time, take a nap in the middle of the day, savor every flavor, graze all day and buy your alcohol for home consumption before 11pm.

More pictures of food, mountains we climbed, the Mediterranean and the beauty of Barcelona:

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I guess I should move on to the showstopper: Fez, Morocco. Morocco stole the show with it’s rich and plentiful history, flavorful and healthy cuisine, bountiful and breathtaking topography, intricate and colorful decor, relaxed and generous culture, ancient and grandiose architecture and the most sincere and giving people that I had the pleasure of meeting.

It is difficult to explain Fez (or Fes, I don’t actually know the correct spelling maybe it is different in different languages) to someone who has never been there, which is pretty much everyone I know except for a few people I work with. It truly feels like you’re going back thousands of years in time in the Medina or the old city. No cars are allowed, donkeys, mules, and foot are the only forms of transport allowed within the city walls, and yes, there is a wall around the Medina. We walked around for a full day and I felt like we walked so far, but I don’t think we even hit two miles. There aren’t streets, per say, just lots of alleyways that twist and turn that eventually bring you to mosques, mausoleum, shops, the market, museums, and the oldest university and library in the world, Al Qarawiyyin, that was opened by a woman in 859 B.C.

This design is all over the medina.

Fez, from the rooftops. 

The tanneries, where they still use ancient methods to dye leather.

The Tanneries: aka leather making/dying. They still use ancient techniques and use all natural dyes like turmeric, indigo and pigeon poop! 


Sound like a mythical place? Yea, I thought so too when I was researching it before our travels. What is amazing to me is that after all of these years it is essentially the same as it was in 859. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, plus there have been lots of foreign investments to keep the city preserved and intact so we saw a lot of preservation and restoration work going on while we were there.

I wish we could’ve had more time here as it was so different and incredible. Did I mention the beautiful Riad’s we stayed in? A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with rooms around the perimeter with a courtyard or garden situated in the middle. The first Riad we stayed in used to be a palace, art museum, home and now it is a hotel.

Looking from above

Our second Riad, from the rooftop. 


Honestly, just staying in such a gorgeous place for so cheap would’ve been worth the trip alone. Luckily, for us we experienced even more.

One of my colleagues at work has family in Fez so we met them and they showed us around on our last day and were so incredibly kind, fun and generous. They bought us souvenirs to take home with us and invited us over for some homemade Moroccan couscous. I only wish I could’ve communicated with them better, I really should brush up on my French…


Where did the sickness come in? I’m not entirely sure. I honestly thought it was just food poisoning from some undercooked chicken we grilled on a picnic in the Atlas Mountains.

Oh, I didn’t mention that did I? Yea, that was beautiful.

Ancient Jewish Berber city where there is no running water and those doors lead to house caves.

Fossils in the Atlas Mountains


It was a relatively relaxing day exploring the Arabic and Jewish Berber towns and cities outside of Fez and at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. My favorite part of the day was when our guide took us to a market where we picked up all the ingredients for our lunch. There were absolutely no tourists besides us and I felt like we got a taste of what a day in the life is like. Everything is a farmer’s market there. I know there are grocery stores but from my understanding most people choose to go to the outdoor markets because everything is fresher and cheaper.


WHY CAN’T IT BE LIKE THIS IN AMERICA? Is all I kept thinking…

Anyway, I thought I got food poisoning from some undercooked chicken that I had a iffy feeling about so I fed most of it to the most adorable puppy in the entire world, Doggie Baba.

</3 Miss him. And to be clear, he was a stray. 


However, most of my symptoms lasted for a full eight days. Hm, not normal for food poisoning. Also not normal? Giving it to your boyfriend. Happy Birthday, Mike!

Oops.

The internet says probably e coli. I experienced all of the symptoms with the worst of it being within the first 48 hours. We’re talking everything coming out both directions and retching so badly that I pulled a muscle in my calf.

At the hotel, the home of our new friends, the airport, in our other hotel… 

… and vomiting… 


Not only did I not keep anything down for over three days but my right calf would send shooting pains up my leg while I was walking up and down stairs. Fun! And now Mike has it… not quite as bad as me, but basically the same… yesterday was the first day I felt like myself and my bowel movements didn’t make me want to scream/faint/curl up in a ball. Please wish Mike a speedy recovery from the exotic virus he contracted without stepping outside of New York City.

Oops…

Despite probably getting e coli in Morocco, I cannot wait to go back. I want to explore more in Fez. I want to go to the Sahara. I want to visit Marrakesh. I want to visit our friends. I want to eat more of that amazing fresh cuisine that may or may not have gotten me ill! It was a magical place that I certainly will never forget because I WILL be back.


I think I’ll write a second part to this post, but for now I will leave you with tales of gluten and e coli.

And a recipe!

Moroccan Spiced Turkey Burgers

Ingredients:img_9412

  • 1 lb ground organic turkey
  • 2 carrots finely chopped/shredded
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped/shredded
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons Moroccan 5 spice blend*
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

*I bought this in Morocco so I don’t know if you can find a blend here in the states but this is what it consists of:
equal parts ginger & coriander (let’s say 1
teaspoon fullsizeoutput_2a03each), white pepper, cayenne and cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon each), allspice and turmeric (1/4 teaspoon each) .

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the onion and carrots in a food processor until fairly small and mix in with ground  turkey in a big bowl. Add in scallions, spice blend, salt and pepper and mix together with your hands until thoroughly combined. Make small patties and set aside.

fullsizeoutput_2a21Heat coconut oil in a cast iron skillet or large frying pan and place patties once pan is heated. Do not flatten the patties so they maintain their juiciness. Cook for 3 minutes on each side then place on cookie sheet at bake for 5 minutes to ensure the patties are cooked all the way through while maintaining their crispiness and juiciness.

Add to salads, sandwiches, quinoa, rice or enjoy as a snack!