In many cultures around the world, gluten-free is the norm rather than the exception. While gluten-free catering menus are a relatively recent phenomenon in the U.S., in countries like Mexico, Thailand, Greece, Italy, and India, gluten-free foods have been a staple of the diets around the world for centuries.
If you’re planning a full-service catering event and have gluten-free dietary needs, look to these spots on the globe for inspiration when planning your catering menu.
Thai chefs rely on fish sauces rather than soy.
Unlike Japanese or Chinese fare, Thai food is naturally gluten-free. Thai dishes are also packed with zest and a wide variety of textures. The nearly transparent rice paper on spring rolls is one example, as well as the rice noodles used in pad Thai. Seasonings like sweet palm sugar, chilis, coconut, lemongrass, lime, and ginger are delicate and at the same time bold and bursting with flavor
Italian chefs say “mangia” to gluten-free choices.
This one might surprise you. Actually Italy has a high rate of celiac disease, giving chefs there a heightened level of awareness of what to serve and how to avoid cross contamination. Northern Italian cuisine is particularly gluten-free by its very nature, offering dishes on risotto and polenta bases rather than wheat pasta, as well as a wide variety of cured meats and cheeses. In fact, the Italian Celiac Society offers a list on their website of pizzarias, trattorias, gelaterias, and B&Bs through Italy that are certified gluten-free.
Greek and Middle Eastern catering menus offer great gluten-free options.
It’s not uncommon to find lots of fresh fish in Greek and Middle Easter cuisine. The use of rice-stuffed vegetables and dolmas, chickpea-based dishes like falafels (without the use of flour as a binding agent) and stews are as healthy as they are delicious. Just make sure that there are no shared fryers and other utensils used during the food prep to avoid contamination from other non-gluten free foods.
Mexican and Latin American cuisines turn the heat up on gluten-free catering menu items.
Because Mexican and Latin American dishes are often rice or corn-based, they are the perfect complement to any gluten-free event. Dishes like rice and beans, fried plantains, masa-based corn tortillas, slow-cooked meats like barbacoas, and tapioca-based cheese breads are common staples and incredibly flavorful.
Indian foods are complex and comforting.
While Indian food varies from region to region, there are similarities that make this cuisine perfect for the gluten-intolerant guest. Of course, they’ll have to avoid the naan, roti, and samosas, but there are plenty of meat-based curries, rice- and lentil-based dosas, and breads made with chickpea flour to take their place.
Full-service caterers like New Orleans’ own Messina’s Catering and Events have lots of internationally inspired, gluten-free selections.
In fact, gluten-free is nothing new to the three generations who have operated this popular catering business for nearly 60 years. From the Mediterranean grilled vegetables and antipasto display to their Ceviche bar to their Ahi tuna carving chef’s station, you are certain to craft a gluten-free menu for your next full-service catering event that will please every palette.
In addition to being named The Knot’s Best of Weddings, Messina’s Catering and Events was recently selected by New Orleans CityBusiness readers as Best Caterer for the 3rd year in a row. One of the top full service caterers in the area, Messina’s has been chosen as the exclusive caterer at several New Orleans venues as well as a preferred caterer in many others.