Monday, January 8, 2018

Popular questions in the gluten-free world

So, I'm asked gluten-free related questions all the time.  The bad part is that there are some questions I can't answer - even when I go to extra trouble to do so.  I thought it might be fun to list some of the ones I can answer here, since I get some of the same questions over and over again.

Is bleu cheese gluten-free? 

We're out to dinner with a party with another celiac. They want to know why Red Robin's gf menu doesn't list bleu cheese as safe.  Likely answer - someone on the corporate side read some very old, outdated and untrue info about bleu cheese containing gluten.  It was once thought that was the case, but later on, very extensive studies (mostly done in Canada) proved the theory about the mold used as a starter for bleu cheese containing gluten was never accurate. I'm a bleu cheeseaholic, so there.

At a very popular place in Ashville, NC (no, not the fabulous Posana Cafe), I'm told I can't have the strawberry salad unless they leave the bleu cheese off.

Tom + Chee's nutritional data stated (at last check) that their bleu cheese contains gluten...and so forth and so on.

Bleu cheese is the most common thing I've come across as being listed as containing gluten, when there is likely no bleu cheese to be found in any commercially available bleu cheese. At least those found in the U.S and Canada.

Is movie popcorn gluten-free?

At one time, there was supposedly some gluten in some movie popcorn ingredients, but these days, that doesn't seem to be the case.  Since going to the movies is still one of the best entertainment values out here, I made sure to check on the popcorn safety at the chains I frequent.  Both AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas serve gluten-free popcorn - at least without the fake butter.  Since I've not had any interest in eating whatever they call "butter" (it's in no way, shape or form butter, by the way) at movie theatres in over thirty years, I didn't bother to check on the ingredients in it anywhere.

Going to the movies is the ONLY place you can go and just walk up to the counter, order popcorn and a soda and enjoy it while watching a movie like everyone else. No zillion questions about ingredients, preparation methods, etc. Just make sure to skip the Twizzlers, which for reasons I'll never understand, do contain gluten!

Is mayo (or mustard or ketchup) gluten-free? 

Until recently, I thought this question was put to bed. And then, of all people, a doctor said to me "you can't even have mayo, right? It has gluten in it"...! I almost fell over, seriously.  Thankfully, this doctor has nothing to do with celiac, but still - it's 2018. It's been well over a decade since there's been much confusion on this topic.  Let's just say that while I don't like mayo (except in deviled eggs) and I can't even have a ketchup bottle on a table when dining out (it so grosses me and my husband out!), I might not be here anymore if mustard, or anything with distilled vinegar in it contained gluten.  Keep in mind that malt vinegar is almost always made from barley and therefore, it is NOT gluten-free.

Why would Twizzlers (lemon curd, cream of mushroom soup or barbeque potato chips) contain gluten?!

There is an exclamation point above because that is how people ask those questions. As if I am surely confused or have a serious learning disability and I don't know what does and doesn't contain gluten.  That's right - I've been gluten-free for over a decade so how would I know such things....DUH! The answer is that I have no idea why those items can, and often, contain gluten. You'd need to ask the companies that make the products about that. Thankfully, many lemon curds, and at least three brands of cream of mushroom soup (including one condensed), is gluten-free.

You can eat most anywhere these days since everyone knows what gluten-free means, right?

The answer to that comment-turned-question is simple. No, no and no!!!! Many places with printed gluten-free menus (especially large chains) don't have a clue about how to serve gluten-free customers safely.  So, we can't just go out and eat anywhere.  And if someone means I can have a plain salad, that just plain insulting.  Who wants to go out to eat at a place where the only gluten-free option is a boring salad?! Certainly not me.

There are more annoying questions than room to discuss here, and I guess we'll all be dealing with them for years to come...possibly forever.  Especially if we live out our days in the USA.

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