Expanding My Gluten-Free Comfort Zone

For years I have studiously avoided oysters.  Just the look of them turned me off.  Anything that looks like something coughed up on the half shell should be avoided, right?


I eat any type of sushi out there, which is raw and fresh from the ocean but couldn’t get beyond the look of oysters…until last night. I have an annual night out with my sisters-in-law in New York City. We tried to figure it out last night and decided that next year would be our ten year celebration of this December GNO. 

The first time we went I was in charge of picking the place and I chose The Mermaid Inn on 2nd Avenue and picked a nice wine bar as a starter…the only thing that has changed in all these years is the starter location.   We now have instituted a summer dinner out to satisfy my need to try new places, but we will continue to come back to The Mermaid Inn as long as it remains such a delicious option!  In fact, we just call our night out, “mermaiding.”


Oysters are gluten free and as I came to find out last night, they are a succulent, briny and fantastic bite of seafood!  We paired our two dozen oysters with two orders of “Bay Fries,” double fried frites with a liberal sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning.  That could have been my dinner! 

Seafood restaurants are my favorite choice for eating out because simple fish dishes, grilled or pan seared, are delicious and easy to confirm if they are indeed, gluten-free.  As much as I love fried fish, I would choose a grilled filet with just some salt, pepper and olive oil any day of the week.  Last night’s pan seared trout had a light sauté of red peppers with some greens and fingerling potatoes.   They prepare gorgeous filets with just a few, fresh ingredients.


Even though the night out stays the same year after year, which is reassuring in its own way, I was forced out of my comfort zone to try something new. As a person with a gluten intolerance, I fall into safe ordering patterns when eating out, who wants to get sick? But last year, my sister-in-law told me to give the grilled octopus at the tapas place a try. This year it was oysters. Both the grilled octopus and the oysters were gluten-free and both of them rejected by me previously because of the way each looked on a plate.  Glad I have my sisters-in-law to push me outside of my comfort zone because I will order both grilled octopus and oysters on the half shell again at a future restaurant outing! 

Kendall Egan


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