Gluten free in Greece

I'm off on holiday soon and wondered if anybody had any advice about staying gluten free on a Greek island. I've been on similar holidays but long before I had to watch my diet.

We're self-catering and I don't really eat much "gluten-free" processed food anyway so am hoping it won't be too complicated. Just wondered if anybody had any food recommendations or warnings? I've downloaded an app with translations for restaurants, but am wary of hidden maltodextrin etc if I can't read the labels!

4 Replies

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  • Hi freelancer,

    Lived among the Greeks for donkeys years and quite a lot of good unprocessed food is available to buy in local shops, markets and hypermarkets.

    As for restaurants, I'd stay clear of meatballs and also be careful of the bbq'd items as the greeks tend to place pitta bread on top of cooking meat to warm them. You'll be in heaven with salads, olives, cheese, feta, yogurts, tahini (sesame), potato dishes, lentil dishes, pulses galore and fresh fish.

    I'd stay clear of the meatballs, anything covered in bechamel obviously, and check the stifado which is a stew, that should be safe if prepared traditionally.

    The ice creams are usually packaged (ie. labels), but there are sorbets in every flavour imaginable.

    Hope you have a great time.

    oh btw I've just found a good page to print out from the coeliac society of greece. It lists what is permissible to eat and it's specific enough a cook could follow, it's at koiliokaki.com/content.aspx...

  • Hi there

    I visited Santorini last year and wrote up a blog post which may be of help (link below) - I expect the restaurants will be very similar on the other islands too. I don't know what country you are from, but if from the UK, the EU labelling laws apply and the labels I looked at had English on them (hasn't been the case in other European countries). There was GF pasta and some other supplies at the Fira supermarket and 2 types of pasta in Oia.

    thecoeliacplate.com/greek-i...

    Have a great time and enjoy the sunshine!

  • Freelancer,

    After my diagnosis 2 years ago we went to Crete and I was nervous. But then amazed at the response from restaurants. Everyone was so helpful and either already new about gluten and coeliac disease [they say "kee-lee-a-kee"] or quickly understood from the restaurant cards.The replies above are spot on and most of the foods are fresh and unprocessed [obviously not pasta meatballs pizza etc]. I was also surprised when a local butcher read a card and assured me that his sausages are only meat and herbs - no padding out. Obviously the more touristy fast food places should be treated with caution but family run places serve better food anyway. Also look out for kleftico - a stew type dish similar to stifado but with lamb.

    I was initially embarrassed about "having the conversation" and presenting the restaurant cards but as my wife pointed out it helps to get a relationship going with a restaurant and they always remember if you go again. The Greek islanders are warm, friendly and totally laid back so have no fear of talking to them.

    Just a thought but I tend to take a few supplies with me like cereal bars and biscuits for cheese for breakfast and snacks and also some gf pitta and toast bags. One restaurant will even do me a kebab on my own pitta and yes they scrub the grill before heating it [with a little water and olive oil]. Also chips seem to be done in their own separate oil - no body minds if you ask them first, which I still do.

    Enjoy.

  • Wonderful - that's really helpful. I'd seen the Santorini post when googling, so thank you for putting it out there! Good to be warned about the bread on top of barbecued meat, and I think now I'll bring my own pitta, though that seems a bit coals to Newcastle...

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