Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Gluten-free and lactose-free eating in Milan
I've been in Milan, Italy since the weekend and I've had a terrific time. This is noteworthy because it's surprising for two reasons.
1) I have not enjoyed previous trips to Italy, because I found the country to be disorganized and chaotic. Milan is different. It's a world city, like New York. It's very cosmopolitan, and people are business-like, but nice. Drivers actually stop for you, unlike in Rome and Naples where it's the pedestrian's responsibility to get away. (The traffic is still pretty hairy, but this is due mostly to the scooters who act like bicycles, but move at car-like speeds and to the bicycles who act like pedestrians, but move at sprinting speeds.) Milan also seems like a very safe city. There are lots of women taxi drivers, a phenomenon that I have not seen anywhere else.
In addition, Milan has a great transit system (streecars, buses, and subway), so I have been to many parts of the city.
Coincidentally, a story appeared on BBC NEWS reporting that the Dante Alighieri Society (similar to the Academie Francaise) are calling on Italians to use less English. Words like leadership, weekend, OK, and know-how are being used part of the common language. I had noticed the phenomenon in my time here. Since I only speak guide book Italian, I definitely notice when an English work or phrase pops up. It's similar to listening to francophones in Montreal, but with a lower proportion of English overall.
2) I have a long list of things I can't eat. I can't have gluten, lactose, or caffeine, otherwise Bad Things Happen. Also, I'm supposed to stay away from sugar, starches, and saturated fats because I have high cholesterol and high triglycerides. This doesn't leave much that I can eat-- mostly green leafy vegetables. I can compromise on the second set, but not the first. Italian food is particularly problematic for me with the bread, pasta, pizza, and cheese.
Amazingly, I have been able to find things to eat. Around the corner from the hotel is a very nice grocery store, Esselunga, which has a more than adequate selection of soy products. They also have a selection of prepared foods with a complete ingredient list, so I have been eating from there quite happily.
Yesterday, I discovered a shop, Vivere Meglio, across the street with lactose-free gelato. Yum!
Last night, I discovered a web site with listings of places that have gluten-free pizza. Today, I went on to two of the most highly rated restaurants. For lunch, I went to Be Bop, which was in an area similar to Queen Street West in Toronto. Despite its name, there was classical music playing at Be Bop. Any pizza on the menu could be prepared with a gluten-free crust. I had a wood fired, thin crust veggie pizza (mmm) and lemon sorbetto for dessert. For dinner, I went to Le Specialità, where any pizza or pasta could be made gluten-free and they had dessert options too. I had a very large Pizza Duo Stagione (mushrooms and prosciutto) and Gnocci Frutta di Mare (!!!). For dessert, I had a tart with white chocolate and wild strawberries. I was extremely full and extremely happy.
It's a good thing that I hadn't discovered these places before, because I'd be going home round!