This is a guest post by my friend Yael Segal Ruder, mother, microbiologist and Tel Aviv marathon runner. Read more about her here.
When we discovered our eldest daughter had celiac disease, we had to completely change the way we prepared and served our meals. Now, anything that has touched gluten, the main ingredient in flour, cannot go near my child’s food. However, we didn’t want to give up one of our greatest pleasures, dining in restaurants. It is a bit tricky to go to a “regular” restaurant and dine gluten free. There are places that we avoid altogether when we go out to eat with our daughter, such as Italian restaurants. Their menu is based primarily on gluten and their kitchens are ridden with wheat flour.
These days, there is a growing awareness of food sensitivities or allergies, including the inability to eat wheat flour and or any of its products. Increasingly, restaurants in Israel have gluten-free menus and gluten-free dishes, which greatly improves the quality of life for those with celiac disease. Always ask the waiter or waitress to check with the chef if any dish might contain flour, or hidden gluten such as soy sauce or powdered soup.
In our family, the best choice is usually grill or steak restaurants such as the Black Burger restaurant chain. Here there is even the option of eating a hamburger on a gluten-free bun. One of my daughter’s favorite places is Moses in Tel-Aviv, which now has branches throughout the country. Another place in Tel-Aviv is the Hudson restaurant, which has a separate gluten-free menu that is enjoyed by the whole family. Their gluten-free cheesecake, which I highly recommend, is even better then the real thing.
Since my daughter is an adventurer, she likes to explore exotic new flavors. One of her favorite cuisines is North Indian and at the Indian restaurant Tandoori we can also enjoy a gluten-free menu.
We often eat at inexpensive restaurants that serve local foods such as hummus, falafel and various grilled meats. Unfortunately, she dislikes hummus and avoids it altogether as if she wasn’t born in the Middle East. Many, but not all types of falafel are gluten free; however, it is important to ask before purchasing it. Another option is Middle Eastern stuffed vegetables with rice and meat, which is her favorite. A very good place in the north for stuffed vegetables is Misedet Ha’arazim in the Arab village of Jish. To our surprise, even family-owned restaurants realize there are those with celiac disease who cannot tolerate flour. In the wonderful Arab restaurant El-Babour, the waiter did his absolute best to find our daughter tasty gluten-free dishes.
While writing this post it occurred me that it is hard to be a vegetarian and live gluten free. However, many places cook vegetarian dishes that don’t require wheat flour such as The Coffee Bar’s risotto, potatoes, salads and even gluten-free desserts like sorbets and ice cream.
The good thing is that restaurants make it easier now for a person with celiac disease to enjoy dining out like everyone else.
So go out and have fun – Bon Appetit!
The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide