Many people, mostly in the United States and Europe, have something known as Celiac Disease, which is an allergy to gluten. Some people are also gluten-intolerant, which also requires the elimination of gluten from the diet. Traveling with this kind of dietary restriction can be very tricky, especially in countries such as Peru, where a gluten allergy is not well-known. Also for our Spanish students in Cusco, living in Cusco can be a bit of a challenges when they have gluten allergy. Therefore, we have prepared this short article with tips and tricks to live and learn Spanish in Cusco with a gluten allergy.
Most websites and doctors might suggest bringing a ´´cheat sheet´´ when eating out in restaurants so that the waiter can read exactly what you can and cannot eat. However, the problem is that most people in Peru have never heard the words ´´gluten´´ and ´´Celiac.´´ Furthermore, when you say the word ´´allergy,´´ people in your home country would probably take that very seriously, whereas here in Peru, many people do not have a lot of experience with it yet and don´t think it´s a big deal.
Therefore, when eating out in Peru, it´s very important to use “simple language”. For example, instead of asking if there is gluten, ask if it has bread or is cooked in an area with bread. It also helps to exaggerate the situation, such as saying, ´´I will have to go to the hospital if I eat bread´´ or even ´´I will die if I eat bread!´´ That usually seems to get the point across!
In general, there are many Peruvian plates that are gluten-free. The trick is figuring out which plates are safe and which plates are dangerous. Peruvian plates that are generally safe are ceviche (traditional fish dish marinated in lime juice, garlic, and chili), Pollo a la plancha (grilled chicken usually served with potatoes and rice), Papa a la huancaína (potato and cheese dish), Rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper), and Risotto de Quinoa (Quinoa Risotto).
Dishes to avoid are Lomo Saltado, Anticuchos, Chicharrón, Papa rellena, Causa rellena, Aji de gallina, and Chaufa. All of these plates are either breaded or contain soy sauce. Surprisingly, many dishes in Peru are made with soy sauce, so it is important to ask if a dish has ´´salsa de soya.´´
There are many restaurants in Peru that are good for a gluten-free lifestyle. Particularly in Cusco, Nuna Raymi and Greens Organic are two restaurants right off the Plaza de Armas that offer meals without gluten. A more economical, yet just as delicious, option is Green Point, a vegan restaurant in San Blas that actually has the label ´´GF´´ on their menu!
Recently, a café called La Rabona opened, and they offer many gluten-free products. They have bread, brownies, chips, and cookies that are all gluten-free! It is right in the city center and also offers non-gluten-free options for those who don´t have dietary restrictions.
For the most part, living gluten-free in Peru is easy, but it just takes time to figure out where and what to eat. Although not as obvious as in other countries, there are definitely options for people that live a gluten-free lifestyle.
|If you register for one of our Spanish courses in Peru, please let us know when completing the enrollment form that you are on a gluten-free diet.|