Okay, so there are a ton of things you can learn in Vegas. Like, how a lot of people are shady but awesome at the same time. How casinos have their ceilings painted like the sky so you forget what time it is. How craps actually works. What the Venice canals kinda sorta look like. The list goes on and on. Vegas is the best place, ever.
But what I learned on my most recent Labor Day trip to Vegas is that being able to roll with the punches is the most important skill a person with food allergies can have (that and a steady hand for injections, but hey).
Traveling with my allergies can be difficult, especially now that I’m not eating out in restaurants outside of LA (and even most LA restaurants) and that I’m limiting my processed foods. I used to head to Vegas for a weekend and stop at the kosher restaurants or the supermarket and grab some bread and sandwich meat and baby carrots and call it a day. But now I have to bring my food with me and cook in advance. Whatevs, no bigs. The good thing about Vegas especially is that I typically go for a day, mayyybe two. I haven’t been on a vacation longer than a weekend in a few years — unless you count an AMAZING work trip to Sundance, but then I had a full kitchen in the condo — so I can’t really say how I’d deal with that scenario. But for these overnight trips, I just cook in advance, pack a cooler, and get a fridge in the hotel room.
This time, though, the fridge was broken.
And of course, I had no idea until 12 hours after it was delivered and supposedly keeping my food from rotting.
So here’s the scenario. We arrive at the hotel, I eat lunch, throw my food in the fridge, the room service guy says it’ll get cold in 20 minutes, but I have 24 hours in the city so I run down to the casino. Gamble, look at art, grab a bag of chips bc that’s what Walgreens sells that I can eat, shop, gamble, see David Copperfield, gamble, head back to the hotel for dinner…and the fridge is warm.
In a desert.
I freak out. What can I eat? The hard boiled egg, string cheese, grapes and roll I had for lunch isn’t going to cut it. I can’t get another bag of chips.
I smell my turkey. Smells fine. Taste it. Not fine. Spit it out.
Realize it was dumb to start with turkey since I keep kosher and wait between meat and milk. Consider that since I didn’t swallow any turkey, maybe it doesn’t count. Look at the cheese. It’s floppy and mushy.
Can’t eat an egg or I’ll overdose.
The carrots smells disgusting.
Need a break from the grapes, can’t repeat from lunch.
And then I look on top of the fridge. And notice, in all its glory, a can of corn.
A can of corn I packed as a backup, in case.
In case of what, who knows? Not in case of a fridge breaking (though that would have been smart). I got tired of cooking, really, and thought, “What if we’re stranded on the side of the road and I get hungry, I could cook more or just take this can of corn.” Thank god for laziness!
Then I realized I didn’t have any utensils. Room service said there was an hour wait and a charge of $3.25 for silverware. No thank you. Too lazy to go down to the buffet or restaurants — when the front desk clerk asked if we were ok with the rooms farthest from the elevators, I had laughed, but in that moment, I wished I’d said, “put us in the lobby, please.” (Ok, maybe laziness isn’t that great).
So I did what any sensible, mad, hungry person trying to make the most of their day in the glorious city would do.
I stuck my hand in the can and ate corn like it was finger food.
I got through half a can, grabbed some chocolate (I’m not sure where I learned this habit, but since high school, with the exception of last year’s chocolate abstention, I don’t leave my house without chocolate in my purse, and yes, I think that’s the best idea ever), decided to cheat with wheat and have a few more bites of my roll (it was Sunday after all). Satiated enough, I returned to the casino. But not before I replaced the fridge, with the hopes of salvaging the grapes and egg for the next day (I did).
I was so proud.
I could have cried. I could have gotten sullen. But I realized that this was not the first time in my life my food plans had gone awry, and that bucking up and making the most of it — even if that means finger corn — is not that hard. We take food for granted sometimes. Even I did when I packed for Vegas and relied on the fridge. But it’s not. It’s special, it’s necessary, and we’re lucky enough to have enough of it. In my moment of realizing I had nothing to eat, I decided not to feel sorry for myself. I had something to eat. I wasn’t going to starve. I just had to be creative. To improvise. Which isn’t that new for me. I improvise in the kitchen every day. I make do. You get what you get and you don’t get upset, you know?
I can get upset about my allergies from today til tomorrow, but the fact of the matter is, I had a can of corn. And bread. And chocolate. And not terribly spoiled food. People have lived on worse. They’ve survived on worse. I was lucky. Was it the vacation dinner of a lifetime? No.
But I don’t go to Vegas for the buffet.