Friday, October 26, 2012

Happiness in Greensburg

When I moved back to Greensburg, one of my concerns was the fact that I would be working.  But it’s not the job that was the concern, it was the lunch hour.  When I lived in Fishers, I had a very difficult time finding food, “fast” or otherwise, for myself.  I generally relied on Qdoba naked burritos, Steak’n’Shake chili and Puccini’s GF pizza.  I know you are shocked, but none of those places exist in Greensburg!  So, I was a little concerned that I would not be able to find food to eat without having to bring my lunch every day.
However, what I have found is that although the small town atmosphere doesn’t provide a lot of naturally GF/DF/EF food choices, the small town people will bend over backwards to make sure that I can find something to eat in their establishment.  I haven’t had a single person balk at checking ingredients when I ask them to do so.  If there is a way to make a dish Val-friendly, most places will offer to do it without fuss.  And if it is somewhere that I am unable to find actual food, I get the response, “Well, um, do you want a salad?”  At least they are trying!

There are two places in particular that have really gone above and beyond to make sure that I am well fed (or not thirsty, as the case may be!)  The first one is the MDL Coffee& Tea Co. on the north side of the square.  Mr. Layne, the owner, has been kind enough to carry soy milk so that I can have a latte- a REAL latte! - whenever I am inclined to do so.  Honestly, I feel bad because I don’t know if anyone else partakes of the soy and I don’t drink enough of it to warrant an entire container of milk.  But he has been exceedingly gracious about it and we have agreed that it is a good thing that soy milk has such a long shelf life!

The second place that has really come to my rescue is Mayasari Grill.  Mayasari Grill is an Indonesian restaurant owned and operated by my new friend Maya and her family.  Maya and her daughters have taken customer service to a whole new level.  When I explained my allergies to them the first time, I got a momentary blank look (the moment of “Oh my goodness, what the heck are we going to feed this girl!?!”) and then they set to work.  By the end of my first visit there, Maya had given me a full 3 course meal- complete with soup, a delicious entrĂ©e and a dessert that she whipped up out of thin air.   I left fully stuffed and feeling a little better about my food prospects in Decatur County!

Team Stephen Legal and the Ever-Amazing Maya!
(Yes, there is a tiara on my head.  You will just have to guess why!)

But Maya didn’t stop there.  She has very authentic restaurant and gets several ingredients from Indonesia.  Because she was unsure of the ingredients in some of the items she imports, she actually sent them up to Purdue to be tested.  So, you can be sure when you go to Mayasari’s that the soya (how she pronounces it!) sauce or anything made with it is gluten free- certified by Purdue University! 

A To-Go order of the best Indonesian Fried Rice ever!

So, if you ever come to Greensburg, visit Maya at Mayasari’s and tell her that I sent you!  Make sure that she knows your allergies and you will be treated well.  If she doesn’t have anything for you on the menu, you can be sure that she will figure something out- and you will EAT!  And if you aren’t sure about Indonesian food, check out her hamburger or the BLT on homemade bread.  Then, head around the corner to MDL for some coffee- an actual latte or cappuccino made just for you.  You won’t be disappointed by either place.  And chances are I’ll see you there!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

What a Weekend!

A few months ago, my father-in-law (who will now be known as “Fil”) came home with this idea that he wanted to have a food booth at something called Canal Days in Metamora.  If you have never been to Canal Days, I can tell you that it is quite the experience.  It is probably an acre of flea market-type booths interspersed with food booths of every kind- most definitely a people-watching mecca!  Well, Fil’s friend has this giant bean pot (like, take-a-bath-in-it giant!) and he is famous (in his head, at least) for his bean-making prowess.  When Fil lived in Texas, he learned to cook brisket the only way it should be cooked- Texas-style.  So, the two of them decided to join forces and be united under the banner “Grumpy Old Guys Beans N’ Brisket.”  However, what started out as just beans and brisket soon grew to include beans, brisket, smoked turkey legs, hot dogs, corn bread, brownie, chips and drinks.  The staff of Fil and Friend soon grew to include their respective wives, me and my hubby Chris, and my brother, the Ranger, and his wife, Mrs. Ranger.  Before long we had shirts and hats that matched and looked like a professional crew.

One day not too long ago, as we were getting ready for this event, Fil and I were talking about the food we were planning.  To my surprise and delight, he wanted to make sure that he had gluten-free food to serve to the masses.  So, we checked ingredients in rubs, we worked on GF cornbread recipes and we did taste tests to determine the best GF brownie we could find.  We weren't sure how much of the GF baked goods we would sell, but that didn't seem to matter to him.  What mattered was that as many people as possible would be able to enjoy his food, baked goods and all. 

I wasn't able to join in the fun until about half way through the first day.  When I arrived, I asked Chris if he had sold any GF goods.  He laughed and said that we had sold one GF brownie.  But not to someone who “needed” GF food, but someone who just thought GF tasted better.  What?!?  That’s when I knew the crazies were out in full force!  But, as the day went on, we did have several people come up and question us about our GF foods.  I was proud and excited to be able to tell them that it was truly GF, and that we had taken the utmost precautions to ensure that there was no cross-contamination.  The looks on the faces of people who came to Canal Days not expecting to find anything to eat, the shock and astonishment that radiated from them when they found something that they felt was “safe,” was worth all the time and effort I had put into this venture.  I even shared my GF buns with one lady who said that she couldn't remember the last time she had been able to enjoy a sandwich at a Fair like that.  It was an amazing feeling. 

My favorite moment of the entire weekend was when a young lady turned the corner and whooped so loud I almost dropped my bowl of beans!  She came up to the booth with a look of astonishment and shiny eyes and said, “What do you have that’s Gluten Free???”  We were toward the end of the day so we didn't have much, but we had one brownie left.  She snatched that brownie up before I even got the words completely out of my mouth.  She had two boys under the age of 10 that hadn't been able to find anything all day.  She said, “Oh, thank you so much!  You have NO idea how hard it is at a place like this!”  I responded that yes, indeed I DID have an idea of how hard it was in a place like that!  We chatted for a few minutes more and she moved on and probably forgot me, but I didn't forget her.

I am so thankful to Fil for thinking of the GF community when planning his booth.  It was so gratifying to me to hear the concern in his voice when he described the utter lack of food available to people such as myself.  The man has a heart of gold sometimes, and it was shining brightly that day.  And even last night, when we were discussing the good, the bad and the ugly of the weekend, he mentioned that he wanted to expand the GF foods available next year.

So, if you are in Metamora during Canal Days next year, come see me at the Grumpy Old Guys Beans N’ Brisket booth.  We will have something for you, and maybe, if you are lucky, our little mascot will be there.  Check out the poster below.  I think his darling face sold more turkey legs than all the "Grumpy Guys" combined!