12 July 2011

Gluten Free in Japan

Just returned from nearly two weeks in Japan and feel compelled to say two things: 1) a big thank you to the cooks in the sports center we stayed at in Nishionomiya for taking care of my gluten-free requirements for four days and 2) why can’t Delta Airlines provide a better gluten-free breakfast on outbound flights from Japan?

So if you need to avoid gluten and have to travel to Japan, here are the things that are easy:

Japanese breakfast is pretty much gluten-free:  Rice, Miso soup, fish, salad, pickles, tea. Sushi and Sashimi are gluten-free.  Just bring your own soy sauce if you are really sensitive. Avoid the tempura, katsu, udon, really any kind of noodle unless it is cellophane or rice.  The buckwheat  noodles in Soba usually contain 20% wheat. Sadly, avoid the beer...but you can have all the sake you want!

Luckily, I do not have a reaction to regular soy sauce, although when at home, I use the wheat-free, but when dining out in Japan, I just tried not to overdo it.  I even tried some soba once and it did not cause a reaction.  Otherwise, I was good and had no problems.

I got so sick of fish that we ate in a Chinese restaurant in Itami nearly every night for dinner because I could have some beef and chicken and pork.  Granted, they all had some soy sauce on them, but I suppose if you were really sensitive, you could have them leave it off.

On the flight going to Japan my gluten free meal on Delta was ok, not cuisine by any means, but ok.  On the way back it was fish and rice with a rice cracker.  The breakfast is what set me off.  I had to smell the pastries everyone else got while I had a prison diet of a banana, fruit cup and water and...jelly!  Everyone else got yogurt, but for some reason, that was left off the GF meal.  My hubby was nice enough to give me his so I could have some protein for breakfast and avoid a sugar crash from all that fruit.

My last tip is to always take food with you.  This trip I didn't need to survive on it, but it was nice to have the GF snacks for the plane.  I took homemade banana muffins, Udi's Bagels, peanut butter, Lucy’s Sugar Cookies, Lara Bars, my own Chex mix with dried blueberries and pecans and GF honey nut chex cereal.  I also bought a bag of mixed nuts in Japan for the trip back.  And when all else fails, there is always chocolate!

So be prepared and have a good trip this Summer.

Karen, herself