While it’s hard to imagine that someone might be able to visit this bread rich country and maintain a gluten free diet, I have evidence to the contrary. This last year some guests came and spent two and a half weeks traveling and eating with us and we were able to provide a gluten free diet and even some special perks. The couple were visiting with one of our hotel chef friends who has limited range of English when they started trying to explain Celiac Disease and their need for food made without wheat, to which the chef replied, “Oh, gluten free.” They all had a fun little laugh and continued their gesticulating to try and talk about what he cooks without wheat.
We then went to a major grocery store to stock up on snacks and look for gluten free at a major market called Real. At the store we found a whole row at the front dedicated to gluten free products including but not limited to gluten free grains, cake and cooking flour, cookies, box meals, and other assorted desserts. Our friend even found a chocolate cookie brand that she likes that she hasn’t been able to find in the United States since her return. In any case one can travel in Turkey and avoid the gluten. Here are some delicious ideas for those of you traveling in tours of Turkish dishes that should have little to no gluten in them. When ordering make sure to use the term “glutensiz” pronounced glue-ten-seas.
(carne yar ich) a delicious eggplant dish stuffed with red pepper, onions, ground beef and garlic. Deep fried and then baked to perfection. Served with rice this dish can be a delicious option to Köfte or Kebaps when eating at a Turkish Restaurant.
There are many different salad types in Turkey including a wide variety of pickled veggies all that can supplement a hungry traveler in Turkey. Most everything is locally grown and the delicious flavor of the local vegetables makes salad eating a pleasure while traveling in Turkey, especially in the warm months. Some salads you might like to try include: Kaşık Salata (cash ich salata), Çoban Salata (choban salata), Piyaz (pea yauz), and many many more varieties.
While Turks try to be very accommodating to your needs it is likely that you will be lied to in a hotel or restaurant if the wait staff does not have the necessary ingredients. Only high end hotels and wait staff are trained to understand the serious nature of Celiac Disease and the uncomfortable intestinal pain that comes with gluten rich foods.
We have had guests told by small köfte shop owners that there was no gluten in their sausages only to find out later they had mixed their meat with bulgar a gluten rich grain. Knowing the safe dishes can help but sometimes chefs add wheat to thicken soups or to coat vegetables so a clear explanation up front will save you an agonizing night in your hotel room.
Our guest with Celiac has been back four times and will be visiting again this summer so you one can definitely travel in Turkey Gluten Free but it takes some preparation. We hope we can help you with your next Gluten Free Tour in Turkey.