Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Comer Sin Gluten en España

I have a special affinity for Spain -- I spent 8 months of my time in college there. For five of those months I lived with a host family. It was a fantastic experience; they were wonderful about cooking gluten free for me. My host mom made the most delicious tortilla española, a concoction of eggs and onions that is served all day.

Don Quixote and I chilling in Alcalá de Henares.

Being a Celiac in Madrid was not easy. Spaniards love their bocadillos, sandwiches of jamón serrano (ham). It was difficult to travel around the country, never knowing what would be available. I relied on a lot of tortilla while I was in Spain, as it is a generally safe recipe for Celiacs. Another generally safe option is gambas al ajillo, which is basically shrimp drowned in olive oil and garlic; it was always my favorite dish to get while enjoying a lazy day in Plaza Mayor. I also speak Spanish, so that helped me in communicating my allergy to waiters and cooks.

Elien, Erica and I in Valle de Los Caídos, a little outside of Madrid.

For those who don't speak Spanish but are headed to Spain with a gluten allergy, I've just found this great site written in English! The site is part of the Asociación de Celiacos de Madrid and helps non-Spanish speakers with gluten free possibilities in Spain. While there are no specific restaurants listed on the site, it gives a good guide as to what is and is not generally gluten free.

Included below is a recipe for Tortilla Española. I'm not by any means a cook so I haven't yet tried the recipe, but I thought I should pass it along for my more curious readers to try it out. My personal serving suggestion is to eat it with a side of fresh tomatoes -- delicious!


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Tortilla Española
3 large eggs
Salt, to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
Green olives, for garnish
Crack the eggs into a bowl. Whisk with a fork and add a pinch of salt.

Heat some oil in a frying pan (not one with a heavy base as this will prove to be a hindrance when preparing to do the flip).

Add the potato and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and mash together.

When the potato starts to brown a little on the edges and is mashed up with the onion in a lumpy fashion then add the eggs. Make sure the potato and onions are fully submerged by the eggs. Poke the potato to allow some of the egg to seep into the mashed mixture.

Fry this gently on a low heat. While cooking shake the pan to loosen the tortilla from the base and tidy the edges up with a wooden spoon. Do not over cook. The middle is meant to remain runny and gooey.

The egg will start setting, as this happens place a plate over the pan, a large enough plate to cover the pan substantially, and with a quick co-ordinated movement of both wrists ?flip? the tortilla over onto the plate and slide back into the pan to cook the underside.

Keep shaking the pan lightly so the tortilla does not stick to the bottom.

Once it feels firm on the edges and soft in the middle (after about 1 minute) then slide the tortilla back onto the plate. For the brave heart you can do the flip again if you wish.

Let the tortilla rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Cut into cake slices or cubes. Garnish with green olives.

2 comments: said...

soy española, perdona que no escriba en ingles pero mi ingles es horrible.
he leido tu post y me entristece que digas eso de españa.
hay muchisimos sitios para comer sin gluten, en cualquier supermercado se indica que lleva gluten y que no.
te dejo un link con diferentes restaurante de madrid que tienen carta especial para celiacos y en

Celíaca pero contenta said...

If you think that it's hard to find gluten free options in Spain, you have to go to France. It's worst!
I live in Madrid and even though most of the restaurants don't have a gluten-free menu, if you explain your needs most of them know what you are talking about and they will be glad to help you.
There are some good restaurants with gluten free menus listed in the website you suggested (Asociación de celíacos de Madrid). I also have a blog about living happily gluten free in Spain and even though it's in Spanish everybody is welcomed to contact me in English. I'm planning to have an English section in my blog (soon).
I'll contact you next time I visit NY.