Gluten-Free Etiquette: Ask Before You Order
Gluten is “an elastic network of proteins created when wheat flour is moistened and manipulated.” Gluten gives baked goods structure, volume, and texture. Without gluten, gases created by leavening agents would just escape the dough.
— On Cooking by Sarah Labensky
People who have celiac disease cannot have any gluten; it can be life-threatening. Doctors also recommend staying away from gluten as a preventative or treatment measure for other conditions such as psoriasis.
People used to ask if food contained MSG, but the requests for gluten-free have now overtaken MSG-free requests.
If you’ve ever spilled flour while trying to measure it, you know how difficult it can be to keep it contained. It seems reasonable to expect to find flour in baked goods — bread, cookies, cakes — and pasta. But flour and gluten show up in: beer, candies, French fries, gravies, sauces (including soy sauce), salad dressings, seasoning mixes, imitation meat and seafood, processed luncheon meats, and snack foods such as potato and tortilla chips.
Cooking without flour can be an impossible task in a restaurant. As a consumer, take the responsibility to learn what is likely to contain gluten and don’t order those items. Don’t expect a restaurant to be able to take out the gluten in a menu item.
Ask before you order. “Do you have a gluten-free menu?” or “Can you recommend a gluten-free offering?” is the best way to approach it at a restaurant. But know that sometimes it’s just not possible.
Do your research; ask, don’t tell; and keep the list at the right handy.
The following restaurants have specified gluten-free offerings
Amerigo — GF items indicated on menu
Hog & Hominy — all sides and seafood are GF; GF pizza crust available upon request
Booksellers Bistro — daily GF special
Ciao Bella — GF pizza, pasta, dinner rolls
DELIcious at Kay Kafé — GF bread
Grove Grill — GF items indicated on menu
Rendezvous — everything except the bread is GF
River Oaks — fried chicken is GF
Rizzo’s Diner — quinoa stuffed avocado, salmon, and vegetable plate are GF
South of Beale (SOB) — GF items indicated on menu
Sweet Grass — GF menu on request
Tsunami — GF dinner rolls
Whole Foods Market — offers a full selection of GF items in the freezer section
ASK YOUR SERVER — Alchemy, Huey’s, McEwen’s, Iris, Sweet Grass and Tsunami all have GF items upon request.