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sherwoodforest Jan 27th, 2014 01:01 PM

Gluten free options in Spain?
Does anyone have any experience with gluten-free eating in Spain (or elsewhere in Europe if Spain is unrealistic). My wife, who has celiac disease and must avoid even minuscule traces of gluten, dream of spending a month or two somewhere in southern Spain (or elsewhere) next winter but worry about the lack of options in restaurants, certainly, but also the availability of safe foods in grocery stores or markets, especially in non-metro areas. Is this dream realistic for people who must (unfortunately) be militaristic about the foods they eat? All informed insights and advice appreciated ... locales, experiences, resources, etc. Thank you!

cathies Jan 27th, 2014 01:02 PM

What does she eat at home when you go out?

hetismij2 Jan 27th, 2014 01:07 PM

Have a look at
No doubt there are other similar sites if you search.

My son's MIL must eat gluten free, but it has never stopped her travelling.

Christina Jan 27th, 2014 01:17 PM

I don't need to eat gluten free, but food in Spain is very heavy on meats, fried fish, and stuff like that. Too much for my taste, it's too heavy for me. I know in Seville I enjoyed the gaspacho soup, which is gluten free as far as I know. THey seemed to serve spinach a lot, also, which I love, and the meat and fish. I think there are tapas that are potatoes, sausage and other gluten-free stuff (lots of ham, of course, and various seafood). There is a lot of rice, also, and paella, which I don't think has gluten, does it?

So I don't know the specifics of how hard to avoid all traces, but I think you can do it.

IMDonehere Jan 27th, 2014 01:25 PM

I am not a gluten expert but as noted above, the Spanish cuisine is laden with pork and fish. It is easy to avoid breads, breading, and pastas.

It much harder to be a veggie person outside the big cities than a gluten person. If you ask for a veggie dish in many places, they will just give you less ham.

kayd Jan 27th, 2014 01:33 PM

Gazpacho may not be gluten - free as some recipes call for bread blended with the vegetables. It most likely will be vegetarian, though.

Robert2533 Jan 27th, 2014 03:08 PM

Spanish restaurants are not big on processed foods, which means that most dishes are gluten free, nor are there fillers used in the making of pork products (sausages of all types). Fried foods, including fish, are something you'll find in the south. In the north meats and fish are grilled.

Don't eat the bread, or in some cases, pasta, and you'll be fine.

The Spinach and Chickpea (a bean) dish Christina refers to, Espinacas con Garbanzos, is a traditional Andalucian dish. It's normally considered a vegetarian dish, no pork.

Cowboy1968 Jan 27th, 2014 03:17 PM

I assume that more people here eat out in restaurants when in Spain than cook their own meals.
But the latter is quite easy as large supermarket chains do carry a range of Gluten-free products labeled "Sin Gluten" and/or with an easily recognizable icon. As you can image, the quaint village store might not carry a wide choice (aside from foodstuff that is gluten-free by nature) so your best bet for processed foodstuff should be the large chains, or specialized shops in major cities.
If you have identified the areas you plan to travel, it can also be helpful to search the web for "sin gluten barcelona" (or the respective destination) to get local groups' infos on which restaurants or stores have gluten free meals on the menu or in their shelves. But you would (usually) need to understand at least some Spanish to understand those website.

oedipamaas Jan 27th, 2014 03:19 PM

Espinacas con Garbanzos can be thickened with bread as well.

IMDonehere Jan 27th, 2014 06:36 PM

There are also versions of gazpacho where bread is added. And the Italian version of meatballs often has bread as an ingredient. I do not know about the Spanish version (albóndigas).

kimhe Jan 28th, 2014 02:35 AM

From the Spanish Celiac Association (FACE): "There are gluten-free dishes that can be found on the great majority of menus in restaurants (salads, grilled fish and meat, egg omelets, homemade desserts, fruit, etc".

Celiac association in Sevilla, the queen of the cities in the south of Spain:

Celiac Association in genuine and seaside Málaga city:

Gluten free restaurants in Málaga city:

A couple of them:
El Piano:
El Deo:
Zenit Hotel Restaurante Malagueta:
And of course all the Telepizza and McDonald's.

All the restaurants in the excellent Paradores around Spain are connected to the Spanish Celiac Associacion (FACE), among them the restaurant at the Gibralfaro Parador in Málaga:

Supermarkets that are all over, such as Mercadona and Carrefour, sell special gluten-free products:

Some 70 Mercadona supermarkets in the Málaga region (25 in Málaga city only):

Some 50 Mercadona supermarkets in the Sevilla region (18 in Sevilla city):

kimhe Jan 28th, 2014 03:26 AM

... currently some 500 FACE-approved gluten-free products in the Mercadona supermarkets. They are all over in the South of Spain, for example in 28 towns and villages in the Málaga region apart from the 25 branches in Málaga city itself:

Search for Mercadona supermarkets by province all over Spain:

sherwoodforest Jan 28th, 2014 05:05 AM

Outstanding ... and encouraging. Thank you!

Christina Jan 28th, 2014 09:11 AM

I thought meatballs usually had bread added to them, but have never heard of or seen gazpacho soup with bread added. I don't understand what that means, bread in a soup? If it's like croutons, can't it just not be added?

Robert2533 Jan 28th, 2014 09:22 AM

Stale bread is typically added to Gazpacho in Andalucía, but it's not always the case when made elsewhere. We always save some leftover bread, keep it in the freezer, to use when making Gazpacho.

Spanish meatballs (albóndigas) normally include breadcrumbs and can be covered with flour before cooking.

sherwoodforest Jan 28th, 2014 01:44 PM

Not to get carried away with TMI but the harsh reality for celiacs is that even the tiniest amount of gluten is totally off limits--like one sixth of a crumb. Cross contamination from flour hanging in the air or, for example, additives like "natural flavors" can be a huge risk. Dedicated kitchen facilities are ideal (and rare, at least in the U.S.).

kimhe Jan 28th, 2014 11:57 PM

<never heard of or seen gazpacho soup with bread added>

Normally some water or oil soaked bread crumbs is a basic ingredient in Gazpacho, gives texture and richness to the the soup. The bread part is much increased in the delicious and thicker Antequera and Córdoba gazpacho variants called Porra and Salmorejo.

But here is a gazpacho recipe without bread:

traveler45678 Jan 30th, 2015 08:46 AM

Get the book The Gluten-Free Guide to Spain on amazon. It has everything.

sandralist Jan 30th, 2015 09:00 AM

I am really surprised by some of the comments.

FIrst thing I would point out is that Spaniards eat a great deal of rice and potatoes, so flour is easily avoided. They also eat a great deal of cured meat and fish that is not fried in batter, and they also eat a lot of eggs and cheese. They also eat nuts. It is not hard to avoid meat in most places in Spain.

Bread is most definitely a key component of tapas and many other soups and sausages (and meatballs). They also eat a fair amount of canned vegetables (canned, even in restaurants), so if canned goods typically have some gluten in them (I don't know), that is something to watch out for.

Because there is a great deal of creative cooking in the tourist areas of Spain, it makes sense -- if you don't speak Spanish -- to have a card with you in Spanish that spells out the severe intolerance very clearly that can be shown to waiters and food sellers.

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