A recent tour through Mexico included the Colonial Highlands region of Lake Chapala and the Yucatan from the capital city of Merida. The history, the culture, the colors, the people, the food, ole!
Generally speaking, Mexican food is pretty much gluten-free. Generally…typically…maybe…
You can’t eat anything fried and you have to be careful about the sauces, just like you would in the U.S. However, my experience changed my understanding and view of eating well and gluten-free in Mexico.
Travel began in Guadalajara on the way to Lake Chapala. Nothing gluten-free to eat at the Guadalajara airport and the close-by eateries were, well, very American with no gluten-free menus. I safely ate a pan fried egg and a fruit plate. On to Lake Chapala!
Ajijic and Chapala
Now we are cookin’! Except not with Mexican cuisine. The area offers many restaurants owned and operated by American and Canadian expats. Bars, bar food, cafes and coffee houses were numerous, few of which catered to allergenic or gluten-free foods.
To my delight, we did find several restaurants owned by Canadians and Europeans that welcomed me with “Celiac? Gotcha covered.”
A chat with The Secret Garden owners revealed that they both understood the need and how to prepare the foods safely. The gluten-free baked goods were heavenly and we returned there several times during the week.
A favorite hangout was a place owned by a Canadian, Peter, famous in Toronto for several successful theatre district restaurants. A published author and master story teller, we were entertained from the first perfect margarita to the masterpiece desserts. Were we in Mexico? Really?
Everything prepared on the Go le Club menu used gluten-free ingredients. The menu wasn’t promoted as gluten-free however my requests were met with a flourish in description and delivery of a fabulous set of choices.
The kitchen was small and in full view, so I was able to see the cooks prepare my meal, and they asked about my taste preferences.
The neighboring towns, including Chapala, harbored few expats. NOW we were in true Mexico and we weren’t disappointed.
With a few spanglish words, we were able to eat well and eat safely. The food was very fresh, harvested from local fields, and prepared simply. My favorite was the hand made corn tortillas. Ground very course and made somewhat thick, they provided a chewy, satisfying bread that complemented every meal.
We attended a farmer’s market and marveled at the picture perfect vegetables, fruits, berries, fresh eggs, handicrafts and many other items and foods that either defied description or kept us guessing as to what it was used for.
Could we survive here in the Chapala region gluten-free in retirement? Without a doubt!
What did we find in the Yucatan? Check back for that story.