Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gluten Free in France, Part II (Alsace)

A day or two after arriving in Paris, my friend and I took a trip out to Alsace for a couple days.  I went to France to visit this friend from college, and she is also originally from the Midwest, like me.  I mention that to explain how we came up with the idea of going to Alsace.  We both have ancestral lines that originate in Alsace-Lorriane.  She had never visited Alsace, and we thought it might be fun.  And of course, it was.

Alsace is on the eastern edge of France, bordering Germany.  In fact, Alsace-Lorraine has historically been both part of Germany and France.  Lots of war, fighting for territory, in this area, for thousands of years.  My aunt told me that our ancestors, the Voniers, would be at the dinner table and hear fighting, they'd gather up all the food in the tablecloth and go hide out until it was over.  A young lady in a bar that we talked to said that her Alsatian grandfather had been forced to fight for the Nazis in World War II.  Hard times for these people.  You can start to see the allure of an Ohio farm life...

When we got into Strasbourg, we went out to find dinner.  After a little walking around the square, we found a restaurant.  I got something that is a traditional Alsatian meal, called "Choucroute Alsacienne."  You don't see any resemblance to German food, do you?

I was glad to find something without bread, flour, you know.  But I sort of thought to myself, "where are the vegetables?"

That was the first evening.  The next day we were off to the Route du Vin (Wine Route--it's a country drive through the small winery towns of the region, and it's beautiful!).  But not until we had a big breakfast of an omelette.  You can find omelets most everywhere.  This one was pretty good, if not a little bit salty.

So we picked up our rental car and got going to the Wine Route.  We saw villages, wineries, churches, cathedrals, castles, vineyards, and it was breathtaking.  We stopped in the little village of Barr, and found a home cooking restaurant.  Just one young lady was waiting on the whole restaurant.  It was very popular!  We said our usual, "Mon amie a une allergie au blé" (or, "j'ai une allergie au blé") and we asked if the fish was made without blé.  The kind lady came back and said, it had wheat in the sauce, but they would make sauce without wheat just for me.

Oh my god!  How nice!

Here's a pic of my meal.  I think it might have been my favorite meal of the trip:
After we left the restaurant, delighting in the niceness of the people we were meeting, we stopped at a bakery and I got a big bag of meringues, which I proceeded to eat in the rental car, leaving a white powdery dust all over!  Meringues are made with egg whites and sugar, so there are no gluten ingredients.  It might be possible to be cross-contaminated because they are made at a bakery.  But I am VERY sensitive, and I never had a problem with them.

So, I could find restaurant meals, bakery goods--what more could a hungry celiac want, anyway?


  1. I'm so glad you were able to travel, eat well, and not get sick. The fear of getting sick from gluten makes me nervous about future travels, so I love hearing stories like this, that it can be done.

  2. Food, family history, no gluten, sounds wonderful.