Moscow on a very restrictive diet.
July 6, 2014 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm travelling to Russia at the end of the week for 5 nights, staying with friends of friends in Moscow. Finding things to eat for me is difficult at the best of times. My main restriction: Totally gluten-free diet (i.e. no wheat, rye, barley or oats), and no xanthan gum or similar (i.e. no gluten-free breads). Additional restrictions which I can bend at variable levels of digestive cost: No dairy; No onion or other alliums; Low fibre (no beans or coconut).

My questions:
  1. Where will I be able to get specialty gluten-free e.g. Schär products? Specific central locations, or types of stores are both useful.
  2. Will it be tricky to convince people that I'm not just being fussy?
  3. Can I expect kasha or buckwheat blinis to be available in pure buckwheat forms, and if so, without cross-contamination?
  4. Will the western chains have gluten-free (and soy) options as they do in Western Europe and the US? In particular, does McDonalds serve gluten-free fries, often my best option in the UK?
  5. Is sushi commonly available as prepackaged snack food in Russia?
  6. Are there some great foods that I could eat and mustn't miss out on?
posted by ambrosen to Travel & Transportation around Moscow, Russia (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can only speak to #2. I visited Moscow and St. Petersburg some years ago. I stayed with distant relatives. My relatives were extremely hospitable – literally to a fault. I think it's a common trait in Russia. They pushed food on me at every meal, even foods that I had previously told them were not part of my preferred diet (and I'm not even going to mention alcohol – yikes). I don't have the same sorts of strict restrictions as you, so I often caved-in to their pressure.

Be careful when dining with Russians.
posted by alex1965 at 9:58 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm vegetarian and had a reasonably tough time in Russia, but there are a few vegan restaurants in Moscow that may be more considerate of your dietary restrictions or could at least put you in touch with the right community and resources. Good luck!
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:26 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

1. I know Auchan sells Schär, it's a big supermarket. It's most likely not the only store that has it.
2. Tricky, I don't know. My experience was that your hosts feel like they need to feed you - I second alex1965, my hosts pushed food on me as well. But when I said I can't have this or that, they were respectful of my restrictions. Maybe let them know in advance that you can't have gluten etc. so they don't make a huge pile of pelmeni! (This is what my hosts did, haha)
3. I can't have gluten and eat kasha that comes in regular bags/boxes and is not extra marked as gluten free. I first rinse it and then cook it at home though. For eating out I would always ask the staff. Here is a handy allergy card in Russian.
4. Not sure. My experience with McD is very limited. Last time I traveled in western Europe and looked at their allergy info sheet (like 6 weeks ago) it listed everything as containing gluten. Fries as well.
5. Not sure w/r/t prepackaged, it's been a few years since I was last in Moscow. But I had good sushi in restaurants there. Even at the airport it was quite good. But it was a sit down restaurant upstairs. If you love soy sauce, bring your own. Most places tend to have the cheap stuff of the Kikkoman brand, and that has gluten.

Also just found more info, fairly recent to boot. Happy travels!
posted by travelwithcats at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thank you all. Looking forward to finding whatever I can, and packing the first day's food in my suitcase. I think I will print out the allergy card, too.
posted by ambrosen at 11:52 AM on July 9, 2014

Oh, and travelwithcats, McDonalds fries in the UK and Ireland definitely are gluten free, as well as any other fried potato products they make. It's incredibly handy for me when travelling.
posted by ambrosen at 11:57 AM on July 9, 2014

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