James Miller - Coeliac Diary


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Eating Gluten-Free in Minsk


I did not want to be adventurous with my eating in Belarus.

As a coeliac, there is nothing worse than having to travel on a plane or drive down the motorway, with your guts telling you in no uncertain way that they are unhappy with the gluten. Your best course of action when this happens, is to sit near a toilet. Or sometimes permanently on it!

I had prepared by bringing a good box of supplies with me.

Gluten-Free Supplies
The box contained Trufree crackers, Fruit Break bars and Oskri Sesame Bars. If the worst had came to the worst then I could have existed on them, plus a few bananas, other fruit and a salad or two.

The Belarus Hotel has a Panorama restaurant on the twenty-second floor with expansive views of the city.

Nighttime View from the Panorama Restaurant, Minsk
I'm afraid that the picture doesn't do the view justice!

I thought I'd be careful and only have a main course with a glass of wine. At least the menu had an English translation and there seemed to be a lot of choice.

I'd also brought one of CeliacTravel's excellent menu cards in Russian, so I gave it to the waiter and asked if a pork something was OK. He took the card and checked with the kitchen.

I was getting a bit apprehensive, but when the meal arrived, I had no worries. The pork had obviously been cooked without any source and it came with some onions, peppers and tomatoes. They did bring a cup of tomato sauce to go with it, but I decided that as I was ahead I'd stay there.

I had no reaction to the meal at all. The card had done its trick.

The two breakfasts that I ate in the hotel were fine too. But then with a buffet, you can usually be fairly careful about what you eat. I stuck to fruit, cold meats and vegetables.

So would I be more adventurous if I went to Belarus again? Probably, especially if I went with someone, who understood their cooking better than I do!

As a postscript here, much of the cooking in Belarus is based on potatoes. They even make pancakes that way. So if you're careful, it isn't one of the most difficult places to eat gluten-free.

But you'll have to take your own biscuits or bread!

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