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winki4

Great Dining In Sweden And Denmark

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I traveled to Sweden and Denmark for 3 weeks and was so happy eating everywhere. The hotels in Sweden had gluten-free crackers labeled and available at every meal. If you told them you are Celiac, they brought out gluten-free bread for your afternoon sandwich and morning meal. They even toast it in a dedicated toaster! The Swedes and Danes eat lots of sandwiches, cold cuts and cheeses at all meals. If you are a drinker, while in Denmark you must try their Aquavit and Aalborg Danish alchohol made from potatoes. Awesome stuff! You gain an apreciation for sardines, Havarti cheese and good adult beverages. Don't be afraid to travel my friends! :P

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Just joined ... here's a great topic for me to weigh in on with my first post!

My wife and I just spent LAST WEEK in Denmark, mostly Copenhagen. I'd suspected gluten intolerance for some time, but just got the blood test back (positive) less than 3 weeks ago, and literally arrived in Denmark on the 8th day of my gluten-free diet. So I'm still learning the ropes here. I'm not extremely gluten sensitive (or it wouldn't have taken me 38 years to figure it out) so I just focused on avoiding overtly gluten-containing ingredients, not CC issues. I know, eating out is risky, probably got some inadvertently, others might not be so lucky.

Anyway, most of the restaurants and take-away food we found in Denmark fell into one of the following categories: smorrebrod (open faced sandwiches, completely out of the question), polse (sausages/hot dogs, maybe OK without bun), baguette sandwiches (fine for my wife, not so good for me), middle eastern/mediterranean (lots of choices), indian (same thing) or italian (didn't even try). We did also find a fantastic (and reasonably priced) vegetarian restaurant in the Christiana hippie commune that had good gluten-free options. Also, although bakeries are generally out (too bad!) macaroons are popular there, and at the well-respected bakery we visited they confirmed the macaroon had no gluten ingredients. One of the best 'roons I've ever had, too! (Though the more I've learned in the last few days, I suppose it must have been heavily cross-contaminated.)

We tried to eat out only once per day and take care of the rest of our needs through grocery stores. The staple of our diet was stereotypically scandinavian: flatbread with cheese, meat, jam and/or vegetables. I was able to obtain Wasa gluten-free flatbread (corn/rice based, disappointing but edible) and rice cakes (both plan and w/ popcorn, MUCH better). Also found chocolate-dipped rice cakes -- something we REALLY need to import to the US! Europeans are more into breakfast cereals than they used to be and selection has improved, but I was not able to find a single gluten-free option. I have to admit my single conscious lapse on the gluten-free diet last week was corn flakes with malt in them. Seemed to be the least damaging option and I couldn't resist.

Anyway, I guess the bottom line was that if you don't worry about CC, eating gluten-free in Denmark isn't too hard. But if you were more strict and did worry about that, or heaven forbid had to be lactose free as well, I think it would be substantially harder than the US. I did not very often see products specifically labeled for gluten content, or observe any other special accomodations made for gluten sensitive people.

I recently saw a study (https://www.celiac.com/st_prod.html?p_prodid=135) that looked into why the official incidence of celiac disease in Copenhagen is 1:11000, yet in Malmo Sweden (20 miles away across the water, essentially Danish ethnicity) it is 1:500. The conclusion was that the true rate was the same (1:300) in both cities, but that Danish doctors did a poor job of diagnosing symptoms and identifying/testing for it. In other words, awareness is low.

I can only speak for Denmark though (and others' mileage may vary anyway), and I've heard that other parts of Scandinavia are much more gluten-intolerant-tolerant.

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