A Gluten Free, Tea Drinker in Italy

No pizza, no pasta, no pastries, no panini, no bruschetta.

So many people’s travel writing from Italy centers around the food. For many it is a taste-fest journey.

For me, Italian food seems to be an exploration of every variation on wheat, (I am not coeliac but just can’t digest processed grains ending up with all sorts of gut related problems along with fatigue and unhappiness). I am unable to enjoy much of it. And to top it off, I don’t drink coffee.

This picture is a fake. I don’t drink coffee, never have, this is just for show!

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It’s hard to fathom how I can love all things Italian so much, the people, the history, the landscape and the language but have such a disconnect with the food.

On previous trips I have managed by eating rice, secondi piatti with its meat and veg, and absolutely beautiful salads. Some of the best salads I found were in Autogrills on the side of the motorway. They offer big dinner plate sized servings with your own choice of base greens and then a number of delicious toppings depending on how much you want to spend. For about ten euro I would get extras such as buffalo mozzarella, other cheeses, nuts, olives, etc. Yum. And there was often so much, I would take the remaining slabs of cheese on with me.

 

After a bit of research though, it turns out Italy excels in catering for people who are truly coeliac. Apparently Italian children are tested for the disease as part of their health screening before the age of six. Food outlets frequently offer alternatives using gluten free pastas, breads and pizzas. They take it very seriously.

For me, I find I am still better off avoiding processed refined grains altogether. I won’t starve though, I just need to plan well.

As for ordering a cup of tè con latte, I don’t think that they take that as seriously.

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