Bonjour Paris and Hola Barcelona
We had booked our holiday, months in advance, a week in Paris and a week in Barcelona. Of course we were looking forward to walking the streets of Paris with a baguette tucked under our arms, indulging in a different French pastry or two every day, experiencing churros with chocolate in Barcelona and sampling tasty morsels of crumbed and deep fried tapas.
And then our youngest teenage son was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease.
Fast forward 4 months and we were there, in Paris, in our self contained apartment overlooking the Seine. And with a bit of planning, having to eat gluten free was not too much trouble. Breizh Café 109-111 Rue Vielle du Temple (www.breizhcafe.com/fr-breizh-cafe-paris.html) is an authentic Bretagne café and while there were no seats at the café available for us, we ate at the Deli next door. All savoury crêpes are made with buckwheat and once we explained our son’s dietary needs, they also made a sweet buckwheat crêpe for him. You can also buy a pack of 6 buckwheat crêpes to take away and these became a staple for breakfasts at our apartment. Crêperies became a popular eating venue for our two teenage sons.
For something sweet and delicious, head to Helmut Newcake 36 Rue Bichat. (www.helmutnewcake.com) This café bakes beautiful éclairs, tarts and gateaux, all gluten free. Vegan Folie’s 53 Rue Mouffetard bakes 6 cupcake varieties a day and one is gluten free. (www.veganfolies.fr) And don’t ignore all patisseries as most macarons are gluten free (some do have a coating which contains gluten) and crème bruleés are perfect for sweet tooths.
For general supermarket supplies we found it was hit and miss at the mainstream supermarkets. An organic food chain, Naturalia has 3 types of gluten free bread baked daily and a few other lines. Grand Marché Bio 78 Rue St Honore we found to have the most comprehensive supply of products. Le Bio Adam et Eve 41 Rue St Honore (www.lebiodadameteve.com) is a small café specialising in vegetarian and gluten free meals. Visit Noglu 16 Passage de Panoramas. Unfortunately we were too early for service but I have their recipe book : Good Without Gluten and I am sorry we never ate there. ( www.noglu.fr)
Hola Barcelona and we found restaurants and cafés more than happy to accommodate the need for a gluten free meal. At the Hard Rock Café, Plaça de Catalunya, 21 the waitress brought to the table a gluten free menu from the kitchen. At the Federal Café Carrer Parlament 39 (www.federalcafe.es) the chef sprinted up three flights of stairs to explain to my son, which menu items were suitable or could be made suitable for him. Restaurant La Poma , La Rambla 117, identifies gluten free options with SG (sin gluten) as does La Lluna a restaurant down an alley off Carrer de Santa Anna, 20. And the McDonalds at the Barcelona airport offered a laminated menu with gluten free options.
For supplies of gluten free products, the El Corts Ingles Plaça Catalunya, 14 at the top of the Ramblas is an Aladdin’s Cave with an extensive gluten free range. Also worthy of mention is the supermarket chain “Mercadona” which has made a special push to not only increase their range of gluten free products but also to try to keep their prices affordable. Biospace Carrer de València, 186 (www.biospace.es) is an organic shop with a gluten free range and Celipan Gourmet BCN Londres, 26 is a gluten free bakery. (http://celipan.com/)
It also goes without saying that some days we found it difficult searching café menus for something our son could eat, before we settled on a place. Airports and train stations are definitely not gluten free friendly and for a teenager, being spontaneous with a food purchase, was definitely off the agenda. But we found it helpful to travel with a food thermos and a small cooler bag, as well as an overnight bag packed with GF provisions. And a must is the Coeliac Disease Travellers translation sheets, provided to us by our state Coeliac Society.
Ok, we didn’t get to tuck those baguettes under our arms or enjoy the sugary churros smothered in chocolate and our son soon became quite tired of Steak Entrecote being the only menu item suitable for him. But as a family, we learnt to be more flexible with food and our teenagers learnt to step outside their food comfort zone and experiment with other menu items.
So if you find yourself in Paris or Barcelona: bon appétit and bon apetito.