Apr 2, 2008
Gluten-free at MIT
Posted in: Life & Culture
Hey, everyone. I've been hosed (I know, I know, tell me something> new) on all fronts and I hate first post (I've been labeling all of them as junk. Try to leave comments NOW.), so I haven't been around. But I'm here now, so it's okay! Or something like that.
Moving on to the point of this post - a few weeks ago, MITblogs got a question from Claire: "I have multiple food allergies (eggs, wheat, dairy, gluten), none of which cause anaphylaxis, but I'm wondering how food-allergies are accommodated at MIT. Can people opt out of the meal plan in order to make their own food in dorm kitchens?"
If you have multiple food allergies that require specific methods of food selection and preparation, you might want to consider living in a dorm with kitchens instead of a dining hall. (Burton-Conner, East Campus, Senior House, Random, Bexley, New House, and Macgregor fall into this category.) I go grocery shopping at either Whole Foods or Trader Joe's every one to two weeks, both of which have tons of options for people with food allergies. You can go shopping for food even if your dorm does have a dining hall (Baker, Simmons, McCormick, and Next, for those of you following at home), since they're only open for dinner anyway and buying all of your other meals gets really expensive really quickly. These dorms also all have one kitchen open to all residents (for example, Next House's Country Kitchen is in the basement).
Unfortunately, living in a dorm with a dining hall requires that you buy into the House Dining Plan each semester, and you are not permitted to opt out of it regardless of your situation. There's hope for you yet, though - Gillian '10 (yes, that Gillian), who moved to Baker last semester, sent me the following email about being gluten-free while living in a dorm with a dining hall:
"I live in Baker now and I have to pay for preferred dining, so I figured I would make the best out of it. i introduced myself to the head chef and he introduced me and my gluten-free situation to the other chefs and told me about all my possibilities. They include almost any kind of stir fry or salad--both of which are offered nightly, so I'm always guaranteed choices for dinner. They use mostly gluten-free sauces in their stir fry and offer it with rices or rice noodles! I can occasionally have soup, but I can never remember which. And I generally steer clear of the specials, but if I felt like it I could ask whether things are gluten-free or not. Also, I keep a mini fridge in my room with other gluten free staples and snacks. Having LaVerde's central in our campus is great because as anyone with serious food limits knows, the supermarket is always a guarantee!
"Lastly, Au Bon Pain is going to be your best friend, as they are wayyyy ahead of the curve with accomodating the foodly challenged. At the Kendall Square location, they have this computer with their menu that tells the complete nutrition info of ever item they serve along with the ingredients and possible allergens--it's amazing! And they have soooo many choices--their soups are a winterly staple of mine."
Jessie (yes, that Jessie. No, I could not resist the possibility of using parallelism. My AP English Language teacher would be proud of me) also compiled a list of local stores and restaurants with gluten-free options:
"Most local grocery stores (though not LaVerde's as far as I know) have a gluten-free section. Whole Foods even has gluten-free bagels sometimes."
Verified to have a gluten-free menu available:
PF Chang's (Chinese, locations at the Prudential Center and near Boylston)
Legal Sea Foods (Kendall Sq and other locations)
Outback Steakhouse (Medford and other locations)
The Elephant Walk (Cambodian, Davis Sq area)
Wagamama (Noodle dishes, Harvard Sq)
Claim to have gluten-free menus:
Carrabba's Italian Grill
Jake & Earl's Dixie Roadhouse
Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse
Not Your Average Joe's
Claim to accommodate GF diners (I have not been to these):
On the Border
I realize that most of this response was specifically about having a gluten allergy, but everyone should feel free to ask me questions about food allergies that this entry didn't answer. I'll get to them. Really. I will. Even though I'm perpetually hosed.