October is Celiac Awareness Month, so there’s an uptick in coverage about the disorder and generally about gluten intolerance. A couple of the better pieces that have been published lately: “Gluten-Free: Is It for Me?” by Daphne Oz on Oprah.com and “Why Common Foods May Hurt Your Health” by Dr. Jon LaPook on The Huffington Post.
Everyone knows it’s Halloween at the end of this month, but parents of children with celiac disease and/or food allergies need to hear about the Halloween candy list that’s available from Sure Foods Living. Keep in mind that this list was compiled using American sources. Canadian parents, when you read that Smarties are free of gluten, know that this is not true of the popular NestlÃ© treat, but of an American candy that is unrelated but shares the name. Also this month, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness hosts a Gluten-Free Cooking Spree in San Francisco. It will take place on October 30th; check the NFCA site for details and ticket information.
Some Gluten-Free Guidebook readers also have advice to share. Carolina, who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, recommends one gluten-free spot:
There is a place called CeliGourmet here in Buenos Aires that sells food to take out. It has all sorts of things, such as crepes, tarts, pizzas, sandwiches, empanadas (typical local food). There are also many kinds of cake, like cheesecake, chocolate cake, tiramisu, etc., and a variety of breads. There are two stores: one in General Paunero 1927 – Martinez (like half an hour out of town) tel, 4798-2990, and one in Thames 1633 – Palermo Soho, in town, tel 4831-5162.
To my ear, Buenos Aires sounds more and more like a gluten-free paradise. Reader Silvia Basualdo RÃ³vere shared some local restaurants in this post and in this one. If you visit Buenos Aires, check out Oleo, a website that allows you to search for city restaurants that serve gluten-free meals (“comidas para celiacos”). There are currently 300 places on the list!
Another reader, Sybil, left an incredibly helpful comment on my post “Gluten-Free Fast Food at the Eaton Centre.” In it, she mentioned that the Druxy’s Famous Deli in Toronto’s Commerce Court kept gluten-free bread in its freezer. I’d never heard about Druxy’s offering gluten-free options, but Peter Druxerman, the company’s vice-president of marketing, confirmed it. Right now it’s just a test program â€” the only Druxy’s with gluten-free bread is the one in Commerce Court â€” but it’s one that Druxerman says the company would like to expand.
Next summer, if you’re visiting Ontario’s spectacular Stratford Festival, take a tip from another reader, Marilyn, who shared this:
We twice visited the festival last summer, and we were able to order ahead, by phone or online, for a gluten-free picnic lunch that we picked up from the Festival Theatre lunch bar. We found the food and beverage supervisor very helpful in discussing options, and the food was excellent!
If you go, the Festival Theatre CafÃ© is located at 55 Queen Street, Stratford, [tel] 1-800-567-1600 or 519-271-4040. According to the website, picnic lunches need to be ordered at least 48 hours in advance.
Many thanks to Carolina, Sybil, and Marilyn for their terrific tips. Please keep them coming!
Interesting and informative. Thanks for the Halloween candy tip!
i was really interested in the news about druxy’s. i’ve been through chemo and continue maintenance treatments at princess margaret hospital where the only food available besides tim hortons is druxy’s. i’ve been ordering sandwiches without bread. it’s interesting eating a rueben with plastic knife and fork while hooked up for meds. i wrote to peter druxerman this morning and he replied immediately! i asked if they could get the gluten free bread into their hospital locations so that patients who already have challenges would not have to face another challenge having lunch. thanks so much for keeping us all informed.
Just an FYI:
Although, technically every month is celiac disease awareness month! : )
Diane, I was so happy to hear from you. Getting Druxy’s to stock gluten-free bread at their Princess Margaret Hospital location is such a smart idea and a natural fit. And kudos to Peter Druxerman and to Druxy’s for being so responsive to their customers’ wishes!
Would love to hear how GOOD the GF bread is- as most of us know, many freezer GF breads are awful. Are they developing their own recipe or bringing in an existing product?
I’m sorry to break your illusion, but Buenos Aires is not a celiac paradise by any means. This has been the experience of our celiac family that has now lived in Buenos Aires for five months.
Almost any restaurant that has ever heard of the celiac disease or is asked whether they make food suitable for celiac people or if they have anything on the menu without flour will tick the box in Guia Oleo, but that doesn’t mean that you could actually _get_ that kind of food in the place, at least not easily 🙂 Practically nobody knows anything about the celiac disease, gluten, or wheat. Weird stares ensue whenever we go to a restaurant and start the story. Often a waiter will happily bring us a (normal wheat) bread basket just after the five-minute discussion of what could we possibly eat, how we cannot eat even crumbs of wheat etc.
(Just one example: the headmaster of the school of our daughter told us before we enrolled that there were already three celiac children in the school and that the kitchen prepared gluten-free meals for them. When we actually got there and went to talk to the nutricionist in charge of the school cafeteria, we found out that not only there were no celiac children eating there, but that she didn’t have the faintest idea about the celiac disease or what and where is gluten. Her first comment was “OK, so then your daughter cannot eat for example… apples, right?”)
There are a couple of exceptions that are the places recommended by the local celiac associations: Te adoro Garcia, Comer en compania, Zona natural and perhaps one more. But these are actually just cafeterias / bars that are not even open in the evening and that serve a very limited selection of lunches, typically heated up in the microwave. And I am not kidding. The times we ate in Te adoro Garcia and Comer en compania the food was OK, but it’s definitely not the kind of restaurant experience that a healthy person can easily enjoy in Buenos Aires. In Te adoro Garcia there was exactly one (1) choice for lunch when I ate there with my daughter. The cakes were excellent though, but the reality is that there is not a single restaurant in Buenos Aires where a celiac people can go out and dine as well and safely as in Helsinki, which is where we lived before.
One thing that limits the choice a lot in the normal restaurants (all except those three or four) is, that in this country, wheat is everywhere. Everybody is certain that normal cheeses and sausages contain wheat flour and definitely must not be eaten — there’s a couple of brands that are safe, and that are enlisted in the lists of the local celiac associations. It’s practically certain that any restaurant will not use these brands but something else.
But what’s the most amazing thing that according to celiac people, doctors and associations in here, even normal spices contain gluten. Our nutricionist said that she was absolutely certain about this and had confirmed it in her patients. According to her, it would be because wheat starch is used to speed up the process or drying the spices, but that strikes me as odd because starch should be exactly the part of wheat that doesn’t have any gluten in it, and in Finland is allowed in the celiac diet. It could be that the starch used is not so pure then, or that they in fact use just plain flour, or something that many here find very probable — that the producers or cheap spices just add flour to add weight to the product.
There’s a couple of brands of spices that are safe according to the celiac associations here. One is Alicante and the other one I don’t remember just know.
Again, it’s practically certain that restaurants will not spice their food with these brands, so our standard checklist in a restaurant here is
– not any flour
– not any spices (except herbs and such)
– not anything fried in the same oil as milanesas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milanesa )
As you can imagine, in the end this leaves one with pretty little choice. The most ubiquituos safe bet is grilled meat and salad (you just have to make sure they don’t put pepper or other spices in the salad). Other than that, some peruvian restaurants, which there are a plenty, can prepare some of their dishes such as ceviche and parihuela without using any dried spices.
The celiac law is not enacted in Argentina yet which means that the packagings cannot be trusted. The gluten-free symbol or failure to mention wheat in the ingredients does not have any legal consequences before they law is in place, which I understand will take some time still, there must be a transitionary period etc. This is why doctors here tell their celiac patients that everything processed that one buys must figure in the lists of gluten-free confirmed products that the two local associations publish yearly and update monthly. And I ensure you that doing shopping with that booklet is far from what I would expect from a paradise 🙂
The good thing is that fruit, vegetables and meat here is very good, so cooking celiac food at home is relatively easy. But whenever you want to eat outside home — whether at a friend’s place or a restaurant — be sure to either do the celiac lecture before they go shopping before cooking, or bring your own food.
In my wife’s blog there are links to the relevant associations as well as to some bars and shops in Buenos Aires, along the recipes that the blog is mostly for: http://almaceliaca.wordpress.com/