Welcome to Europe – where walking, gorgeous cathedrals and perfectly crusty bread seem to have been invented. Barcelona in particular has its share of all three of these things and is deemed one of the most walkable cities in the world with supermercats (that’s Catalan, that’s not a spanish word!) and tapas bars at every corner alongside historic buildings, apartments, Gaudi’s architecture, work places, metro stops, shopping districts, beaches, clubs, and much, much more. And all the walking, sightseeing, dancing, sunbathing and schooling I do is enough to make any girl hungry. And while my host mother always has a sandwich prepared for me on pan sin gluten to take with me for lunch every day, I get HUNGRY.
So what’s a celiac to do in a country known just as much for it’s history and beauty as its cuisine and love of all things gluten-y? Croissants and bread topped with olive and crushed tomatoes await around every bend, every street and the temptation to gobble one measly piece of pastry down is always present. If I didn’t know that certain doom awaited my intestines I would dive right in without a second thought. After all, what could be better than a baguette panini eaten in the shadows of La Sagrada Familia? Or a beer and tapas with friends late at night? That’s right – nothing.
But as the Rolling Stones taught us, in this life you can’t always get what you want. And I swore I wouldn’t let this no-eating-gluten-because-I-have-a-disease-thing bring me down while I am in one of the best cities in the world. So I make do and find other alternatives. For now, let’s focus on the snacking dilemma when you’re so sick/tired/jetlagged/desperately hungry that you would give anything for some KFC located on that historic placa.
First off, I packed a BUNCH of snacks in my carry on suitcase. Kind bars, luna protein bars (not to be confused with regular luna bars – which usually contain gluten), Larabars (proceed with caution! Some of these flavors just totally suck), Emergen-C, gluten-free oatmeal, and granola were all stuffed into zip locked bags and stowed in overhead bins as I flew towards my new home for four months. That supply almost depleted, I’ve had to find new options. And I haven’t been entirely disappointed.
First of all, fruit. Fruit everywhere. I’m not going to lie- I’m not a big fan of just eating raw plums and watermelon as a snack but here everything seems more fresh and delicious and accesible. Markets like La Boqueria have fresh fruit juices as wel for anywhere from one to two euro. Want something incredible? Try a mora y coco (blackberry and coconut) juice from any stall you can find it at.
That’s the healthiest option I can offer but with all this walking I don’t feel at all guilty when eating my new favorite snack – Lays jamon flavored potato chips with the words SIN GLUTEN printed right on the front. Maybe they’re an acquired taste but when all my friends are cramming bocadillos y papas fritas in their mouths (sandwiches and french fries) they are the perfect snack.
And don’t worry – when you get really sad drooling over the dessert displays and the smell of freshly baked cakes and danishes makes you want to weep, there’s always an amazing gelato waiting for you just next door. I’ve eaten gelato and/or a Magnum ice cream bar here almost every single day and been extremely happy. After all, calcium and chocolate are good for you, right? If you want a real treat then visit Gelatomania on Avignuda de Mistral, 64, for un cono sin gluten. I got pistachio and white chocolate my first time and wasn’t disappointed.