Friday, October 12, 2007

Gluten-free in England and Italy

I've now returned from my 3-week trip in Europe - 1 week in England and 2 weeks in Italy. I thought a little summary post about the trip (with respect to being a Celiac) would be helpful.

So, here are my observations:


It seems like London is further ahead in gluten-free options than we are here in Ontario. The grocery stores had plenty of GF options; but more importantly they label so many of their products as gluten free or non-gluten free. Just look for the special gluten-free symbol on the front of the product! Pretty handy.

However - they must have slightly different 'rules' about what ingredients are and aren't allowed in England. I say this because some products that were labeled gluten free had ingredients that I wouldn't dare to eat. For instance, "wheat starch (gluten-free)" seems like an oxymoron to me, but I'm not sure what sort of processing was used (and can't pretend to be an expert). I just stayed away from these products.

Which reminds me, if you fly British Airways, you get food made in Britain. No kidding! But the bun that came with my gluten-free meal had ingredients listed on of which was this same "gluten-free wheat starch". Just be careful.

With all that said, I do think that London at least is further along in terms of gluten-free options. Restaurants - especially 'fast' food chains - seem to have more gluten-free options. For instance, a few of the Starbucks I visited had a gluten-free pastries. Pret a Manger, another popular fast food restaurant had "sandwiches without the bun". I had a shrimp salad which was amazingly fresh and tasted great.

The restaurants we visited were pretty knowledgeable as well, but I guess I was most impressed with the large food chains that had options usually not found here in Ontario.

Oh, and before I forget. I found a gluten-free beer in England! That's two that I know of now (the other one being La Messagère of course). Here's a picture:


Eating in Italy was both easy and tough for me. It was easy because although many places we visited didn't speak English, the business card-sized note I made up in Italian indicating that I needed gluten-free food was ideal. It worked so well, I almost feel like making one in English so I don't have to explain to my server every time I go out to eat!

It was tough though because my wife (who isn't a Celiac) ate so much great bread and pasta that I was pretty jealous.

But overall, I didn't have a tough time. At our first town (Padua/Padova), we found a natural food store that helped us find gluten-free products. They directed us to the pharmacy - yes that's correct - you buy gluten-free products at pharmacies in Italy.

So we found a pharmacy close by and it had so many gluten-free products. Needless to say I stocked up (see the picture below).

The fresh (not-frozen) Schar products were really the best of the bunch, though everything was very good. The Bon Matin buns were sweet breakfast buns, perfect with a little Nutella on them for breakfasts. I also bought sandwich buns and just purchased sliced meat and cheese from the markets for lunches. Not only was this cost effective, but a quick and delicious lunch. The pharmacy also gave me a handful of free sample products, such as cookies, crackers and savoury snacks!

As an aside: Italy's sliced meats are a lot different than the processed meats we get here in Ontario at grocery stores. They have a lot less preservatives and fillers - in fact, finding ones with gluten is very unlikely. Even salami and sausages that I found were pretty much pork, salt, pepper and spices.

Dinners worked out well - instead of the 'primi' course (which is usually pasta), I enjoyed salads, prosciutto with melon, or cheeses. Often I tried the risotto if it was available, and the servers ensured me that it was cooked without gluten. (The most common problem with risotto is the chicken broth that the rice is cooked in. This chicken stock often contains gluten in store bought products in Canada.) It seemed fine in Italy, but definitely check if you are there and have risotto.

The second course was easy as it's almost always meat or fish. In fact, if you don't order a side dish, sometimes you just get the meat. (A little shocking when you just get a whole fish plopped down in front of you!). Anyway, most of these second courses were just grilled or baked, with not a lot of sauces to worry about. But very tasty indeed!

All in all, it was a great trip, and a lot less troublesome than expected.

Do you have any vacation tips, especially when visiting foreign countries? Please add a comment!

One last picture from Italy:


Gluten Free Hotels Guide said...

If you are looking for hotels in London or Rome that can serve gluten free food, you can visit
The site lists hotels all over the world which are able to serve gluten free food.

Anonymous said...

The decor on the inside of the restaurant is absolutely beautiful.
Below are listed a few popular pubs where one can chill in Mumbai.

my web blog; great pub quiz names

Anonymous said...

Sun protection gloves are one of the best ways
to protect your hands in the sun, especially when you are driving.
You might even find yourself flying over top of other riders,
so keep your limbs as close to your tube as possible. A really
great way to make this work -- if the store allows it -- is to couple sale
items with coupons, for even greater savings.

Here is my weblog water shoes

Anonymous said...

Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She placed the shell to her ear
and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

Here is my homepage acoustic guitar a chord

Anonymous said...

Amazing! I'm truly enjoying the design and style of your website. Are you using a custom theme or is this readily available to all individuals? If you do not want to say the name of it out in the general public, please e-mail me at: I'd really
enjoy to get my hands on this theme! Cheers.

Also visit my webpage: related web site ()

Anonymous said...

It's a pity you don't have a donate button!
I'd certainly donate to this superb blog! I guess for now i'll settle for bookmarking and adding your
RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group.
Chat soon!

my web page - Suggested Website

Anonymous said...

Hey there. I was considering adding a hyperlink back to your site since both of our websites are primarily based around
the same topic. Would you prefer I link to you using your website address: http://www. or web site
title: Blogger: SafeCeliac. Be sure to let me know at your earliest convenience.
Thank you

Here is my blog post: just click the next webpage

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your
site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could
a little more in the way of content so people could connect
with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or
two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

Here is my blog - Suggested Online site

Anonymous said...

Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and
starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

Also visit my page; link building strategies

Anonymous said...

Hiya. I was considering adding a website link back to your website since both of our
sites are based mostly around the same niche. Would you prefer I link to you using your site address: http://www.
or website title: Blogger: SafeCeliac. Please let me know at your earliest convenience.

Visit my webpage - search engine optimization tips ::

Anonymous said...

Doh! I was domain name searching at namecheap.
com and went to type in the domain name: http://www.blogger.
and guess who already purchased it? You did!
lol j/k. I was about to purchase this domain name but noticed it had been taken so I decided I'd come check it out. Good blog!

Here is my homepage :: seo consulting services

Anonymous said...

When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each
time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the
same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
Thanks a lot!

Here is my web blog best link building tool

Anonymous said...

I'm new to developing web sites and I was wondering if having your blog title related to your content really that important? I see your title, "Blogger: SafeCeliac " does appear to be spot on with what your blog is about but, I prefer to keep my title less content descriptive and based more around site branding. Would you think this is a good idea or bad idea? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Here is my blog post ... positioning seo services

fifa live 2018 said...

fifa live 2018
Fifa Live 2018

ramakrishna said...

Thanks for sharing this excellent information. I really like this post.
website designing services in uk

hasem ali said...

Increase Sell on Amazon
We are a Amazon Business consultancy team. Professional Amazon Product service provider for Good Sells. We are helping sellers to sell products on amazon marketplace successfully. We can make you best seller on amazon.
Do you need to promote your Amazon Business?
We are here to help you...
if you want more sells to your product we can help you.

You can also flow our website for our work experience and justify.

Amazon reviews

Stasy said...

Brilliant Post.
its really nice article for us.
Thanks for the hard work. it's a great blog site.

Sojib Hasan said...

Great information. We are very impressed to see your blog. Tourism N Travel is a travel website with all information about airlines, hotels, resort, cruises, cheap flights, cheap plane tickets, travel, travel deals, beach vacations, vacation ideas, vacation packages, best vacation spots, best places to travel, travel agency and online travel agent for