I don’t have any food allergies. I’ve traveled with people that do and have seen how hard it can be to find places to eat in some destinations. I’ve seen friends try to construct a meal out of portions of different options. I thought I’d put together a quick travel guide for people with celiac, who don’t eat gluten, or who will be vacationing with someone that can’t. I’ll write a separate post about other allergens.
Here are five places I’ve visited that have great gluten-free dining options. For blog length, I’m leaving The USA, Canada, and Mexico off of this list, but all three are gluten-free friendly.
Of course, I had to put Italy first because it’s where I was born, but the truth is that Italy has had gluten-free options since the 1970s. Most people think of pasta, pizza, and bread when they think of Italy. There are many naturally gluten-free options like fresh fish and meat dishes, potatoes and risotto. Gluten-free pasta, pizza, and bread are available all over. You can look for the words “per celiaci” on a menu. But you can go to even the smallest village restaurant and get a gluten-free meal if you learn these one or both of these phrases (or write them down to bring to restaurants):
- “io sono celiaca” (I am a celiac)
- “senza glutine” (gluten-free)
Check out Italy’s Association of Celiacs for more information and a list of gluten-free restaurants in the country.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of celiac disease in the world and a celiac association that formed in 1963, so you know you’ll find plenty of options.
The quality of gluten-free products in Ireland is excellent. Don’t worry about not being able to drink beer; cider is just as popular and available everywhere. If you’re interested in heading to the country, check out Gluten Free Ireland.
Australia is a very gluten-free friendly. I was there two years ago and everywhere I went had gluten-free options. Some restaurants were completely gluten-free even though they served lots of pasta and bread. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a high-end restaurant, café, or tiny bar, there are always gluten-free options.
Another thing, nobody is judgmental about it like I’ve seen in some restaurants in other places. The Gluten Free Eating Directory has a list of restaurants all over the country.
A lot of food in India is gluten-free except for breads like naan, chapatti, and puri, especially in the south. What’s even better is that the food is not processed, so there are few secret ingredients. You can find many lentil and chickpea based foods, and rice comes with most meals. But wheat flour is used in some dishes, so it’s important to ask. But ask if it’s made with wheat flour, not if it’s gluten-free. Not everyone understands what gluten is.
Many meals start with papadam, made from lentils or pakoras, made with chickpea flour. Pakoras can be used as a snack when you’re out and need something quick to eat, just note that they’re deep fried.
Celiac India has some information and what questions you should ask when visiting.
Spain has an abundance of meat and fish dishes and mostly unprocessed food. In the south, you will find more fried foods, but they are still very knowledgeable and cautious about gluten and cross-contamination in many places.
The Association of Celiacs in Madrid lists the foods to order that are gluten-free across the country.
These are the places I have visited so far. I heard Israel is another fantastic destination for gluten-free dining, but I haven’t had the opportunity to go there yet. Do you have any others you would add to the list?