This month, our secretive food reviewer Harry Smiles goes on the hunt for gluten-free festival chomps via La Robeline, Chipstix and Naughty Monkeys...
With a reduction in covid cases, this summer felt almost normal – I say “almost” because swabbing your nose before a big event and dreading any sign of illness after attending one doesn’t feel like business as usual to me – and this has meant the return of much beloved community events.
As happy as I was to enjoy those once more, it came with the bittersweet realisation that there ain’t much ‘food truck’ options when you are gluten-free. How I wish someone had told 2019-me what was to come. Gone are the days of stuffing my face with burritos, juicy burgers or sweet treats of all kinds and I didn’t even get to say goodbye!
Going to the Boat Show, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the Fête de St. Helier and more recently Jersey Pride, I struggled to find anything to eat that wouldn’t have ruined the rest of my day.
The vast majority of food trucks in attendance at those events had nothing gluten-free on offer and whilst there were a handful of options at others, it was quite clear no one could guarantee there had been no cross-contamination. I am normally not bothered by such but, on a day out with family and friends, I didn’t want to risk it and I feel for those with coeliac disease who cannot even contemplate that risk.
My thanks go to La Robeline Cider, Chipstix and Naughty Monkeys for their delicious sausages (provided breadless of course), flavoured potato twists and deliciously decadent milkshakes respectively for providing some comfort whilst I gloomily watched my companions munch down burgers, pizzas and other cakes.
Pictured: A beautiful view but no gluten-free food in sight…
With at least one in every 100 people affected by coeliac disease and at least 10% of consumers* following a gluten-free diet for a variety of conditions (such as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity like yours truly), it seems there is a big gap in the market.
When I say this, I want to make it clear I don’t blame the organisers of the events cited above for the lack of gluten-free options, they cannot provide something that doesn’t exist. It just seems to me someone has missed a trick, if a gluten-free food truck was to be set up, it would make a wheat-free killing at any public events.
And since we are on this topic, I would like to encourage more restaurants to properly label their menus with allergens.
Local foodies will have no doubt noticed the opening or revamping of several local restaurants, but it is with a heavy heart that I share most are either not offering anything gluten-free options or simply hiding those from plain sight. If you’re a restaurant and you have some gluten free recipes, why not label them as such on your menus? I have had to ring at least three different restaurants to find out what gluten-free meals they offer – surely that’s a waste of time on both sides!
Pictured: Chipstix’s Potato twists
(As they are all still fairly new, I will not be naming names to give them the opportunity to amend their menus following customer feedback – but be assured they have heard from me!)
And before you come at me saying I am being too demanding; I am not asking anyone to create a gluten-free option for me (although I have been begging for some gluten-free pancakes for the past two years). The reality is most restaurants will already have something suitable on their menu, but it takes a whole telecom expedition to find it. My plea really is, make your menus clearer!
This article first appeared in Connect Magazine, which you can read in full below...