Heres my problem; maybe its yours too. I spend a lot of time in Europe. I love the eating options this opens up, and I look forward to feasting on the local specialties wherever I am. In fact, I would be in chow heaven, except....
I have asthma. If Im in a smoky room, even a slightly smoky room, for just a few minutes, my head feels like its wedged in a vise and about to explode. I have to get up and walk out, no matter what the situation. This is not about liking or not liking smoke; its a physiological limitation Im forced to accept. (Before I came down with asthma about twelve years ago, I used to put up with smoky environs without complaint.)
Summers are not so bad, since many places have outdoor seating. Of course, this works only if its not raining. Winters can be a nightmare, with hours spent searching for the few possibilities. Restaurant personnel are rarely helpful. More often than not, they regard my no-smoking constraint as an absurd American affectation and enjoy making fun of it. More than once Ive had waiters place no-smoking cards on my table and say with a smile, See, theres your no smoking area.
So what do other respiratorially-impaired chowpeople do? I know there are websites devoted to smoke-free establishments in Europe (or some parts of it good luck when youre stopping at a village on a car or train trip), but they give little critical attention to the food itself. My goal is to breathe well *and* eat well.
One suggestion would be to propose a new chowhound site for international non-smoking, but Im afraid there wouldnt be enough to write about. What to do?