Anybody have experience of authentic Lebanese cuisine and how easy it will be to eat GF outside Beirut?

I'm hoping to travel to the Lebanon with a friend in September but we will be staying outside Beirut, not in a touristy location. (Coeliac UK's travel section doesn't cover Lebanon.)

Anyone have experience please of what typical Lebanese dishes I need to avoid or be particularly careful with? I can stick to grilled meats, plain veg and salads if I have to, but if you tell me they use all gram flour or suchlike I will be deliriously happy :-)

9 Replies

  • There is a great blog about Lebanese food called "Dirty Kitchen Secrets". Perhaps having a look will help you identify safe and unsafe foods.

    I think you will have to beware of the couscous-based salads and things like fattoush which have bread in them. Lots of wheat-flour based desserts and cakes, lots of flat breads and wheat breads.

    Are you in hotels or self catering? I would take some gf wraps, pittas or tortillas so that you can get through the first few days. And take some gram flour if i had access to cooking facilities so that i could make socca as a flatbread substitute once my initial supply of wraps/tortillas had been eaten or gone off.

  • Many thanks, Kate, you've not only answered my question but pointed me to some amazing sounding recipes that I am going to have to try out to get myself in the mood!

    I must admit I'd forgotten I can't have couscous (it's something I'd never eat at home). I think I will do myself a "must not have" sign with all the major forbidden items in Arabic, and hope for the best. And pack Microlax in my washbag... just in case.

  • Have you found your way on to the coeliac UK travel pages yet?

    If your Arabic needs a little help, then there are translations in Arabic designed especially for Coeliacs on the Saudi Arabia page.

  • Thanks Regalbirdy, you're a superstar :-) I hadn't spotted Saudi in the list and yes, my Arabic is a tad deficient. As in, I can only say Hello, Goodbye and Thank you. Well it's a start and fortunately my French is fairly competent!

    I'm going to do a bit of cut 'n' paste to make myself 3-language flashcards in Arabic/French/English, and add a few extras to the forbidden list, such as couscous, moghrabieh, kishk.

    I'll ask the Guerrillas about freekeh...

    Thanks again for pointing me to the Arabic translations.

  • Glad I could help.

    I wouldn't have known about it myself except for the fact I am going to Germany next week and have been looking up the necessary german translations.

    I think there are other sites which do free translations as well. Might be worth googling for them?

    I have only ever eaten Lebanese food once and that was pre-GF. In my experience it was based heavily on flatbreads and gluten foods, so good luck with your diet.

  • It's looking like it could be a carb-free week! Still, as long as they can keep me in grilled chicken, aubergine, hummus and salad greens I'll be a happy bunny and I might even lose some weight :-) Thanks for the tips

  • I went to Lebanon two years ago (before I was diagnosed). Most of our time was in Beirut but most of he food we ate was gluten free eg beans, fish, meat, green salad, hummus, vegetables. Our guide told us this we were eating typical Lebanese food so I guess that is probably available elsewhere in the country. We did get some pasty type snacks which are obviously not for eating now. I hope you enjoy yourself - I really enjoyed being in Lebanon - the people are lovely.

  • Thanks Urbangirl, I'm really looking forward to it!

  • I meant to say that the fish and meat were grilled and we ate food like this with salad. Lots of starters with beans etc. We had the pasties in the Bekaar Valley and I didn't feel so good after eating them. Although I was un-diagnosed at the time I avoided a lot of bread stuff as it gave me problems and didn't get any illness at all apart from eating the pasties (they were lovely though!). In our hotel we had international cuisine so there was quite a choice. Breakfast was usually bread, fruit, yoghurt, eggs, cold meat and hummus. The staff were so kind to us and went out of their way to accommodate us.

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