For Christmas and New Year, Mr D and I decided to escape the snow and cold of London for sunny Argentina and Brazil. This wasn’t our first trip to Argentina. In 2007 we spent a couple of weeks on a trip flying into Santiago, flying down to Tierra del Fuego, going on to trek the ‘W’ in Patagonia before heading on to Buenos Aires. I don’t know if it’s the eclectic architectural styles of the city, the passionate buzz or just the sweet joy of Dulce de Leche but I love Buenos Aires. So I was pretty excited to be heading back to B.A.
For this trip, we left London on Christmas Eve, flying on TAM with a brief stop to change planes in Sao Paulo. We arrived in Buenos Aires on Christmas Day and were met with heat and blue skies. Just what we were looking for. Arriving on Christmas Day also meant something else. Christmas dinner would be melt in the mouth Bife de Lomo and a glass of Malbec. Christmas dinner doesn’t get much better than this!
If you’re vegetarian, you might want to stop reading this now. Argentina really is a meat lovers paradise. I’ll be honest and say I was so into choosing my steak, I didn’t consider what vegetarian options were available. Very naughty since I was veggie for a long time. Of the cuts of beef I sampled, the tender Bife de Lomo gets my vote. The photo of my Christmas lunch is quite indicative of the way steak was served in most restaurants….with egg (or not if you’d prefer) and some fried potatoes. I used my trusty Coeliac Travel cards to check the potatoes were not coated in flour (they weren’t) and the meat was usually grilled on a parrilla or barbecue style grill.
I found eating gluten free in Buenos Aires – and later Iguazu – easy although I focused mainly on steaks and adapting menu items to remove items containing gluten such as sauces from the meal, much like I would at home. The Coeliac Travel cards helped as always. I even managed to find an ice cream shop in Buenos Aires with a nutritional book which indicated which of their ice creams were gluten free! You can check out the Freddo ice cream shop website here. And yes, you can have gluten free Dulce de Leche ice cream!
There were plenty of gluten free snacks available. I loved these rice sandwich bars (various flavours, Dulce de Leche was my favourite) were easy to find.
These high fibre, zero cholesterol quinoa and prune bars made by Nature Crops were really tasty and wholesome, standing up well to a day of sightseeing in the heat while inside my day sac.
When you’re in Argentina look out for gluten free products labelled as ‘Sin T.A.C.C” or “Libre de Gluten”. The Spanish translation of T.A.C.C. means Trigo (wheat), Aveno (oats), Cebada (barley) and Centeno (Rye). They are also labelled with a crossed grain symbol (which you can see in both of the photos above) making the gluten free items easy to spot on a store shelf.
Highly recommended while in Buenos Aires is a trip to the Dietetica 100% Natural stores which can be found all over Buenos Aires. They have a huge selection of gluten free items. The store in Alto Palermo even stocks a gluten free version that very Argentinian snack, the empanada.
After leaving Buenos Aires we flew up to the mighty Iguazu Falls. I’ll end this blog post with a photo of the falls on the Argentine side of Iguazu. The force of nature pushing the water over the falls was something quite incredible and emotionally overwhelming.
14 thoughts on “Argentina: A Gluten Free Trip Report”
I never been to Argentina! But as what I saw on your post! Its great! Goodluck on the gluten free cooks
I like the look of those rice sandwich bars! A few years ago, for FoodsMatter.com, I reported on a talk by a Dr Julio Bai, a coeliac specialist from Buenos Aires, and he said adherence to a GF diet in Argentina was extremely low – around half of coeliacs don’t stick to it. As you now know the country a little – any idea why that may be?
That statistic really surprises me and I’ve been giving some thought to why so many coeliacs in Argentina might not stick to their diet. The labelling on gluten free foods there was excellent but I read that this was only introduced by law in 2008 so perhaps after this things began to change. There was a good variety of gluten free products to buy and I also found (at least in BA and Iguazu) there was a high general awareness of coeliac disease in restaurants etc, certainly more so than the UK and definitely more than in Brazil which will be the next post. So that being the case, you would think most coeliacs would not have too many problems sticking to a gluten free diet. To compare, I wonder what percentage of UK/IRL coeliacs adhere 100% to a gluten free diet? I read message boards with coeliacs who say they have little / no symptoms and who are not careful about what they eat.
Thank you for asking a great question – it’s really got me thinking today. Oh and those rice sandwich bars were great!
This sounds like a wonderful Christmas trip! Glad you had safe eating experiences!
Thanks – was great to leave snowy and cold London for somewhere a lot more fun for Christmas!
Maybe it’s good in the city and poor in the more rural areas – and that brings the average down? Don’t know – mere speculation. Here’s the article I wrote, anyway, which I found: http://www.foodsmatter.com/digestive_conditions_coeliac/cd_management/cd_manage_articles/novel_preventative_therapeutic_approaches.html
I was in B.A. earlier this year and reading this sure brings back memories. I had that same Nature’s Crops bar on the ferry to Uruguay!
I find that Argentinians (like those here in the US) are a very wheat and dairy centric society – lots of bread, lots of cheese, lots of butter. I have to avoid both gluten and dairy so it made dining out a little bit more challenging but I was able to manage just fine although I never did find a bread that was both gf and df!
Yes, you’re right that Argentina is a wheat and dairy society. I was really impressed with the labelling on products though, it was clear to me what I could and couldn’t eat. And wasn’t the steak and red wine amazing!
I just realised that you got to try dulce de leche Choco Arroz and I had to comment because they are my favourite gluten free snack ever! I ate them pretty much every day for six months when I was travelling in Argentina and a couple of weeks ago one of my friends from SF brought me back a box from his travels down there!! Delicious! Argentina, but in particular Buenos Aires, is so fantastic for finding gluten free food. 🙂
I loved them so much, I bought loads of them! That’s great news you had a delivery recently. A couple of weeks after I got home from that trip, I found a couple in the bottom of my rucsac which I’d stashed for the flight. I was so happy to find them!
I am Etel, celiac, from Buenos Aires -Argentina. I am partner at UTENSILIA. Utensilia design utensils and textiles for cooking safe, Gluten free (in different languages:libre de gluten, glutenfrei, sans gluten, gluten free, sem gluten, senza glutine,etc).Visit : http://www.utensilia.com.ar and our catalogo : http://www.utensilia.com.ar/images/catalogo-utensilia.pdf
Originals. I hope you enjoy them!.
Be careful about fried potatoes because they are mostly fried in the same oil where the restaurants fries “milanesas” which is meat coated with breadcrumbs.
Hi Petra,I just came across your blog on a night of rnaodm blog reading and I am so glad I did!!I started blogging a couple of months ago and my plan was to write about my day to day life and parenting type stuff but it seems that I keep writing up my GF recipes too.Anyways, nice to meet you in the blogosphere!Lee