Thursday, February 08, 2007

Travel Food and Eating Out Gluten Free

As some of you know, this year I am applying for academic job positions, and have recently been offered an inteview at THE ONE JOB at Home Town University (HTU).  I have started arranging travel plans and the issue of eating out has come up.  I know I (or someone at HTU) can call ahead to a restaurant to discuss the GF issue, and I have a list of local restaurants from the local Celiac Association.  I have a few questions that I would like your input on, as more seasoned GF travellers.
I know that Thai food is often safe, and mentioned that to my host.  She seems to be extrapolating from there.  Is Indian as safe as Thai?  I am sure they have more wheat is India than in Thailand.  She seems interested in Vietnamese.  Have any of you eaten Vietnamese?  Are there any other types of cuisine I could recommend? 
When you eat at an American place, you want to avoid pre-marinated meats.  Are there any types of dishes that you feel safer ordering than others?
What do you like to eat for Breakfast when you have to go out?  The only thing I have thought of is Hash Browns and Bacon.  Sausage isn't generally trustworthy, I think.
Last time I travelled, I was flying to my parents house for a visit, so I brought my own food, and made some while I was there.  This time, I am being hosted and will be eating out almost exclusively for several days.  I would love any suggestions.


  1. I find that many ethnic restaurants don't use much wheat, if they are authentic. My local Indian restaurant is totally safe as long as I avoid the naan and samosas. I can even eat their pakoras? as they use a chickpea flour and only use the deep fryer for that. Vietnamese should be really easy as even their "eggrolls" use rice paper. Just check on the broth and noodles, but likely it will be from scratch. I travel with my own wheat free tamari so I can get sushi - just watch the fake crab, tempura and miso soups. Thai, mostly no fried foods. Mexican gets harder if they use some sort of seasoning that seems to be in my town that has wheat in it. I too travel a lot.

  2. Your biggest issue with any of those varieties of food (Thai, Indian, etc) is the likely cross-contamination potential at restaurants, and the "hidden" small amounts of gluten - things like Soy Sauce in many of the Thai sauces, and so on. And, from what I have seen, there is still plenty of regular wheat-flour used in Indian dishes to bind things together. If you can't find someone at the restaurant who really knows and understands what gluten-free truly means, it is very difficult to confirm how safe something is.

    I'll admit though, once in a while I give in and eat a Thai dish at a place where I do not know for *sure* that it is 100% safe. But, that is a rare event for me. I tend to stick with homemade most of the time. Good luck with everything.

  3. Anonymous8:02 PM

    Most ethnic foods have been safe for me. I am a big fan of Asian food in general. Thai is usually safe - just be sure to ask that no soy sauce be used, or inquire if it is usually used in the dish. Sushi is also a good choice - just do not use soy sauce and if you have any crab rolls, ask if it is imitation because that is often made with gluten.
    Mexican is another good option - corn tortillas, usually plainly cooked vegetables/meats.
    Most breakfast places are safe as well. If you order eggs, ask them to hold the toast.
    When I travel, I often bring my own cereal (in already individually portioned containers to aid ease).
    Hope this helps,
    Good luck on your interview

  4. Vietnamese food is generally excellent, but they picked up bad habits from the French and learned how to make bread. Most Vietnamese restaurants though are wheat-free.

    Thai is generally safe, but don't assume anything. You should have good luck with authentic Thai though.

    Indian is often good, but sometimes they use wheat. Be sure to ask if they use "all purpose flour" as they often don't realise that this is the same as wheat.

  5. Thai and Indian are my two safest cuisines when I eat out. I also have good luck with Mexican. If authentic, the enchiladas are 100% corn as are tacos. Nachos is always a great option as well. Cross contamination is then the only worry.

    As for American style restaurants I tend to stick with anything potato. Most people recommend steak, but I don't always feel like that. If they offer burgers you can ask them to put the burger filling with potato (wedges, hashbrowns etc). This makes a good combo. I call it my potato nachos! be sure to check the potatoes are GF.

    For breakfast Eggs Benedict is my favorite. Hollandaise sauce made correctly is GF, so if it is a quality cafe you should be fine. Again use the hashbrowns instead of a muffin.

    Good Luck.