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Has anyone had any experience with gluten-free in South Africa? I'm thinking of going to Cape Town next year. I've read about some of the local eats and seems like there's a lot of bread heavy dishes but I can probably skip those fairly easily.

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I went to SA last year. It was a great trip. I'm still in recovery and didn't want to stress my gut, and SA is one of the few places outside of North America and Europe where I felt safe traveling. SA is as industrialized as any Western country. Of the cities I visited (Jo-Burg, Durban & CT), Cape Town is the most progressive, and it was easy to find specifically gluten-free foods, servers who understand "gluten-free", and a wide variety of 'ethnic' (ironically, meaning non-Western) cuisine. You'd have no trouble whatsoever. I highly recommend "Africa Cafe" in Cape Town for a special night out where you can order scrumptious dishes from an 'all you can eat' gluten-free menu. Here's what I wrote at the time of my trip:

I just returned from a trip to SA, where I visited Jo-Burg, Cape Town and Durban. I wanted to comment that I found gluten-free food with no more or no less difficulty than in the states (and I live in NYC). I tried researching options before I left, and found little information online. Once I was there though, to my surprise, I found many options and a range of people who knew what "gluten-free" meant. (Of course, I also encountered many people who had no idea what I was talking about.)

Restaurants that catered to tourists in Cape Town had a high awareness of "gluten-free." I even had a gluten-free menu handed to me at one of these. Remarkably in Cape Town, I stumbled into a bakery with gluten-free products and also discovered a health food store with a wide variety of gluten-free products. In Durban, the owner of my (moderately-priced) b&b served me gluten-free bread. Generally, groceries in the cities I visited carried gluten-free products at about the same rate and the same cost (high) as in the states. But most importantly - and significant to someone coming from the states - foods were all labelled with allergen information. I ate prepared foods from Woolworth's a lot for that reason.

South Africa's ethnic diversity also made eating out easier. There are a wide variety of Indian restaurants (especially in KwaZulu Natal). And native African food does not use gluten. For example, traditional South African food features pap, which is corn-based. I also ate Ethiopian food and pan-African food, which were naturally gluten-free (in both cases, my server could confirm this).

I'd actually recommend SA as a place to travel for someone with gluten issues. The tourist track is well-equipped to deal with gluten intolerance, and generally the country is very hospitable to us gluten intolerant folks. Whatever frustrations I had there were equivalent to what I've felt in the states. Actually, slightly less so thanks to the SA system of labeling for allergens.

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