Please sign in to post.

Curious, cooking & Celiac

Hey everyone. My husband, myself and now our daughter and our new SIL are scheduled on the Best of VFR tour this fall. On day 5 of our tour there is a cooking class. I for one am thrilled for the opportunity to learn how to prepare authentic Italian cuisine. However, our daughter has Celiac disease and cannot consume gluten. I have just sent an email to RS to inquire about my daughter’s options for that day. We realize that she can choose to opt out of this activity, but it does seem like a shame. I am optimistic that our guide will pre-arrange (maybe) a separate table for her where she will be able to prepare some of the meal that is safe for her to eat and enjoy. Has a similar experience?
Thanks so much! Just when I think I’ve planned it all out perfectly something unexpected hits me between the eyes :)

Posted by
946 posts

Should not be an issue. Where's the gluten in a made-from-scratch Italian meal besides pasta and bread in their many forms? A cooking class will be better than going out to eat in your home town because she has total control over what she consumes: she will have either made it or watched it being prepared.

Posted by
7701 posts

I tend to have the exact opposite view of Bogiesan on this. Most of these cooking classes in Italy are predicated exactly on appealing to the allure that Italian pasta holds for visitors ... I am guessing that the "cooking class" is mostly a "pasta-making" class.

But I guess that is just my assumption based on what I would expect if I were going to Italy - so the best thing to do is just what you have done: ask the RS office.

Posted by
2845 posts

I don't read Bogiesan's post as saying there won't be pasta included in the lesson, just saying that there will be other food she could eat. We took 2 classes in Italy and both included pasta and a nice fresh sauce.

Maybe she could bring her own gluten-free past and ask if they could cook that for her to have with the sauce they make? Maybe ask RS about that?

I assume she is not so sensitive that she can't even be around wheat flour.

Posted by
77 posts

Gluten free pasta is freely available in Italy. You could either pick some up there or ask the organisers of the class to provide it.

Posted by
2147 posts

On our Rick Steves VFR trip about 5-7 years ago, we had a lunch cooking class in Florence, and made pasta from scratch, and a chicken and vegetable side dish [ eggplant.] It was a fun experience, as we did everything, from mixing the flour mixture, rolling it, and putting it through the pasta-making machine. I believe there were about six different tables folks were working from. We were covered in flour. I hope she can participate. Good luck!

Posted by
84 posts

Thanks to all! Sasha and Amanda that’s a great idea / having her bring her own pasta. I must be overwhelmed with planning because this is a “duh” moment for me…like why did’t I think of that. It would be very easy to bring her own pasta to help her blend in and feel more a part of the group/fun! Such a great forum, everyone is so helpful.

Posted by
1733 posts

Perhaps, if the cooking class instructors have advance notice from your guide, they will be able to provide your daughter with the alternative flour for making gluten-free items from scratch.

Posted by
39 posts

Yeah, well , . .the best experience I had eating gluten-free was in Rome with RSE and it was lovely.! And the worst experience I had was in Greece with RSE and I was hungry for days. So, truly, ymmv.

Even if there is gf flour, to make the gf pasta, you know about cross-contamination by now, so there is that possibility.

Have her bring something to eat just in case her experience is not perfectly healthy. I always have protein bars and nuts; and while I get mighty tired of them, at least I have something.

(Yes, I always tell the guides. Some do not understand what celiac is or what it entails. I do not complain. I am grateful for the experience and the potential to lose a couple of kilos.)

Posted by
6793 posts

We did VFR almost 10 years ago, with a cooking class in Florence. It was a pretty basic class, as there's not enough time to teach anything complicated. They had alll the supplies and tools all set up ahead of time, so it wasn't like they were offering a variety of choices. We made bruschetta, fresh pasta with vegetables, chicken breasts and tiramisu for dessert. So thats three things with gluten. Some people chose not to eat the chicken because it was a Friday in Lent. I'll bet that your guide will be able to deal with this, if you talk to them in advance. It was more of an eating class than a cooking class. I'd just skip it if I were her and enjoy more free time.

Posted by
21855 posts

Just alert everyone. Cellac disease is common in Europe and you will not be the first case they have seen.

Posted by
1094 posts

When you filled out the health and diet questionnaires for the tour did you mention the celiac? They will hopefully arrange a fix based on that information as well as you contacting the tour office ahead of time.

Some people with full celiac (as opposed to gluten sensitivity) would not be able to tolerate being in the room with that much flour floating around. I am sure your daughter knows what her limits are.

Posted by
84 posts

Thanks everyone. I have not heard from RS yet and we are hopeful that they have some useful suggestions.
Yes to Vandabruh, we did indicate on the tour info that she has Celiac disease. Thanks to Pat’s comments and others who mention the cross contamination factor that we will follow the old saying “better safe than sorry” this trip is so special that it is not worth her getting sick on day 5 of a 10 day tour. Just for future reference I’ll post what information the Rick Steve’s office shares with me :)

Posted by
84 posts

I wanted to follow up and let you all know that I did receive a very nice email from RS saying that the cooking class would be split between several groups/tables. It was suggested that our daughter choose a vegetable station and we were also told that she would have a gluten free meal. So nice to know that we have chosen a tour company that has our best interest in mind.