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MIT student blogger Keri G. '10

Gluten-free at MIT by Keri G. '10

Oh hey, that rhymes!

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:

Pizzeria Uno
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
Burton’s Grill


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.

25 responses to “Gluten-free at MIT”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe I read this whole entry and I can’t even go to MIT because I wasn’t admitted – I should stop reading these blogs! They’re so fun to read, though…

  2. Sam R. '12 says:

    jk.. Thanks for the informative blog.
    -sam r.

  3. chris '12 says:

    All this talk of food makes me hungry, gluten-free or not…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Tenia que ser Samuelito. lol, jk

  5. Aditi says:

    ummmm..somewhat daft question , but do all the people in the dorms without dining halls cook their own food ALL the time? o.O

    I’m lost.

    Can somebody please post about housing too?

    pretty please?

  6. Keri says:

    Aditi – no! I actually just got back from having lunch at Forbes Family Cafe in Stata. ^_^

    If you live in a dorm with a dining hall, then you have to buy into the House Dining Plan, so you might as well eat dinner there most nights in order to break even. If you live in one without a dining hall, you can do whatever you want for any of your meals – whether that means cooking them yourself or buying them somewhere on or off campus, including the dining halls.

    People will probably start putting up Housing posts again soon, but in the meantime, you can look in the archives to find out more. In addition to those, a previous post of mine has links to all of the old dorm tour posts and information about the housing lottery.

  7. Paul says:

    @Aditi:
    I’ll be putting up a housing post shortly – sorry to make you all wait, but I’m also a little hosed right now. :D

    In the interim, #1 thing you should know: explore the dorms and other living groups during CPW. I cannot stress this enough, actually visiting the dorms during CPW and talking to the residents there will make things so much easier for you.

    (I’d also like to emphasize that even dorms with dining halls do have kitchens. In my dorm, Simmons, cooking one’s own meals is still something many people enjoy.)

  8. Alicia '12 says:

    THANK YOU!!! I’m allergic to gluten! I had so many questions about how this was going to work out next year, and you just answered a ton of my questions. This is the most useful post ever! Thank you!

  9. heng says:

    Did i get it wrong? There is a Cambodian restaurant in town? but i am sorry to ask if i could know the Davis sq. area is in the campus or in the Boston Area? Thank for the post, It resolved my worry that i might miss Khmer food after going to MIT.. but now i know i can still enjoy the delicious Cambodian taste

  10. Lucy '09 says:

    McCormick has way more than just one kitchen. We have 1 kitchen per floor in the West Tower and 2 (yes, 2) kitchens per floor in the East Tower. Each floor has about 20-25 residents. The chefs at the dining hall will definitely accommodate your food needs for allergies or religious reasons.

  11. Claire says:

    You guys are the greatest! Thanks a lot!

  12. Judy H. says:

    @ Keri

    I would love to live in a dorm where I can cook my own meals, but I’m afraid it will take up a lot of time (not to say I’m a slow cook). Is that ever a problem?

  13. Rose says:

    Great post! My sister has Celiac disease, so if I get into MIT next year (*fingers crossed*), I am sure my family would love to check out a few of the restaurants listed.

  14. There’s also the option of eating at various independent living groups, like pika. We have people on meal plan with various allergies that we’re able to accommodate. This is a great option if you don’t think you’ll have enough time to cook, even if you don’t have allergies. We generally have meat, vegan, and vegetarian options every night, in addition to citrus-free and occasionally gluten-free. Last summer one of our residents had celiac disease and so pika was effectively gluten-free all summer.

    Check us out at:
    http://pika.mit.edu

  15. yiwen says:

    AHHHHH YOU ARE THE BEST.

    I’m allergic to gluten, and I was hoping for info like this but I was afraid to ask because the allergy isn’t that common. Thank you! I’m no longer worried about having limited food options now smile

  16. Meghan says:

    How accomodating is MIT for people who are vegetarian? Would I be able to eat in dining halls or are the meals served there primarily centered around meat-eaters?

    Thanks!

  17. Celena '12 says:

    Thanks for this entry Keri– I’m really big on eating healthy since I’m an athlete, and it’s good to hear that there are so many options for students.

  18. Roshan '12 says:

    If you do buy groceries, where do you keep them? Like with cereal.. do you have to buy it and keep it somewhere if you want to eat it for breakfast? can you outline a normal week’s meals for us? i’m curious how much can be bought [i too am a slow cook] within a reasonable budget.
    thanks =)

  19. Melis says:

    To everyone who asked about housing: We have blogged about almost all of the dorms. To access the entries, go to: http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/life/residential_life_housing_options/completearchive.shtml

  20. debby says:

    i love to shop at http://www.wholeandnatural.com. they have all kinds of healthy and natural kosher food and snacks. the stuff is fresh and low prices.
    seeya, debby
    btw i used a coupon bldc08 try it

  21. Aditi says:

    Thank you Keri and Paul ^^

    Yeah , I’ve been trying to look up the dorms and I found the links for the class of ’12

    I’ve said this five billion times but I wish I was going for cpw!

    What exactly happens during the international students orientation? does it clash with pre orientation?

    questions questions smile

  22. Anonymous says:

    please keep blogging

  23. Piper '11 says:

    @Aditi – During International Orientation, you’re just learning about being in a totally new country =). But it IS possible to do an FPOP (Freshman Pre-Orientation Program) and be an international student. There was an international on my FPOP =).

  24. gf princess says:

    If you are looking for a gluten-free resource, check out http://www.glutenfreeregistry.com. They are a free site with a searchable database of gluten-free friendly restaurants, bakeries and more. You can even check it on your mobile phone if you are out & about http://www.gfregistry.mobi