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Mar 24, 2012 08:34 AM

One Week in Paris, Gluten-Free and Pregnant

We will be in Paris for a week, 3/31-4/7. I was recently diagnosed as gluten-intolerant. Add pregnancy to this, and I'm terrified I'm going to need to give every waiter a long list of things I can't eat or have to have prepared a certain way, which is going to make all of us curse and/or cry. I'm already close to tears thinking about all the nice cheeses and charcuterie I'm going to have to pass on, as well as the lovely rare meats I'm supposed to avoid. I plan to make one or two concessions to the scare doctrines-cum-recommendations of American obstetrics, but I'm not going to go wild.

So far we've stacked up a few old reliables (Chez L'ami Jean, Josephine Chez Dumonet) where I don't anticipate much of a problem with accommodations. Duck confit and souffle are gluten-free and pregnancy-approved. Perhaps I might just eat that every day, lol.

On David Leibovitz's blog I discovered a so-far-well-reviewed gluten-free bakery that is (swoon!) blocks away from the apartment we rented in Canal St. Martin. It's called Helmut Newcake and I can't wait to review it god, if they can pull off a gluten-free religieuse au cafe....!

We're thinking Vietnamese might offer a good change of pace (yay, rice noodles) and I have a few Breton creperies on the list for lunch. We will have a nicely outfitted kitchen in our apartment and do anticipate self-catering about half of our meals. All the same, any recommendations/tips would be greatly appreciated.

I will definitely report back on my trip, especially re: Helmut Newcake.

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  1. I look forward to hearing about it, especially the GF bakery!! i'll be there in May!

    1 Reply
    1. re: porkiepiggy

      I'm not gluten intolerant, am not a big pastry person, but I, like D Lebovitz, like the Helmut Newcake, though others on these boards, who proclaim to know more about these things, don't. The couple who run it are very sweet. They're both english speakers.

      On the same street, rue Bichat, there's a vegan "asian" place, Tien Hiang, which is very good and I believe offers gluten-free alternatives.

    2. A word of caution -- many soufflé recipes use flour in the base.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Cookingthebooks

        Thank you, I'll be sure to confirm before ordering!

        1. re: Cookingthebooks

          Cooking - i am intriguied how do you make one without flour (for the panade), i thought all hot souffles had the base made with flour and butter. Obviously, cold souffles don't have butter as they are thickened with gelatin, but with these the egg whites are uncooked, so maybe not good if pregnant. Note: a good souffle will generally have a very small uncokked centre so again uncooked egg white.

          1. re: PhilD

            Well, I didn't want to be too discouraging so I didn't say "all." Is it all soufflés? I can't speak for all the chefs of Paris. But yes, to my knowledge, a typical soufflé recipe has flour.

            Honestly, I'd probably do some investigating on the confit de canard, too. I thought most (all?) preserved meat was off-limits for pregnant women.

            1. re: Cookingthebooks

              "I thought most (all?) preserved meat was off-limits for pregnant women."

              I think this depends on which country you ask the question. Italian, French, British, and American doctors give conflicting advice as to which meats may or may not be consumed.

              There is a common wariness concerning cured meats - "raw" hams, bresaola, viande de grisons, etc. I do not think t there's a problem with confit. The stuff has had the living daylights cooked out of it and should be fine.

              1. re: vielleanglaise

                Imho, most US doctors err on the side of EXTREME caution when advising pregnant women what not to eat. Mostly it's because they're afraid of lawsuits.

                Aside from the gluten-free needs she has, I hope the OP will use her own good judgment. Somehow I think pregnant Gascon women have been eating charcuterie for centuries and delivered healthy babies.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  Yes. That is my plan. I have lived in various parts of France and my perspective errs much more to the side of the Europeans than to the Americans. So far my baby is doing very well and I'm NOT going to freak out.

                  And, to echo what vielleanglaise said about the difference in cured vs confit meats, to my understanding (and limited experience making confit), there is no danger in confit.

                  American doctors can be insane with their recommendations, which almost always stem from fear of lawsuits. I'm lucky to have an OB who is NOT insane. Some OBs recommend not eating macarons because of possible what??? A slightly undercooked center? The ganache? While I wouldn't blame ANY woman for erring on the side of such caution, I plan to follow my doctor's advice of eating as many macarons as I like.*

                  *provided, of course, they are gluten-free.

              2. re: Cookingthebooks

                I have a friend who is pregnant in Paris right now and seeing a French doctor -- no raw-milk cheeses, and no charcuterie.

                They're not taking chances on listeria here, either.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  No charcuterie? In my experience when pregnant you can eat charcuterie if it's cooked and not just cured . The same for raw milk cheese. If they're pâte cuite (cooked), you should be fine.

                  1. re: vielleanglaise

                    only *some* charcuterie, even if it's cooked -- not all. (I don't have the specifics) I don't know if it's her preference or her doctor's recommendations, but she's avoiding all raw-milk cheeses.

              3. re: PhilD

                Julia Child's recipe for vanilla dessert souffle does not have flour in it. I figure if her's does not then there is a good chance the chef's at JCD won't either. However, I do have my dietary warning card to make it clear to the chef that it's serious.

                As for the chance bit of egg white....I'm not going to get into a debate about whether other women would eat it, but I'm certainly not going to sweat a few bites of souffle :-)

                1. re: goumandette

                  Interested to know more of Julia's recipe is it creme patiserrie based (which usually has flour in it)?

                  However, i think the chefs anywhere in Paris' will probably have a classical training which will own more to Marie-Antoine Carême than anAmerican cookbook writer who they probably think is only a Merryl Streep character in a film (sorry to put Julia Child into context) - and Carême uses flour.

                  My advice is to choose food that is gluten free rather than hoping a kitchen will adjust a recipe to meet your needs. Intolerences and allergies are not so common in France, and unlike the US, service isn't customer centric, thus hoping to persuade a kitchen to adjust a classic recipe that is one of their standard dishes may not be sensible.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    There seem to be miles between trying to persuade a chef to change his classic recipe to one by Meryl Streep and asking a simple question: "Does this contain wheat flour, and if so can you recommend another dish that does not."

                    De toute facon, merci pour votre conseil.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Julia's recipe does actually have flour in it. At least the one from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Maybe there are others?

                  2. re: PhilD

                    Some chefs do not use flour/starch in fruit base hot souffles. Just fruit puree, egg yolks and meringue. Also chocolate flavor, just ganache, egg yolks and meringue.

                    1. re: PBSF

                      Why would they be Souffles and not Meringues? Isn't the chemistry different in these techniques so the names shoudn't really be interchanged.

                      In a Souffle the 'rise' isn't held by the mixture as it is really a cooked air foam with little integrity - hence the risk of collapse and the resulting fine and delicate texture. With a meringue the "rise" is held by the (denatured) protein/sugar micture that combines during the cooking process to hold its shape and results in a more defined (slightly chewy) texture if not cooked to dry stage.