Finding out that gluten was wreaking havoc on my digestive track seven years ago was rough. No pizza? No beer? No Oreos? Was life even worth living? Drama aside, figuring out what to buy at the supermarket when you have Celiac can be a frustrating and expensive process. Planning and deep breathing can help though.
The sector of the Argentine government that regulates agriculture, meat, and fish has done a pretty stellar job of standardizing labeling on gluten free products. In 2011 it came out with the ‘SinTACC’ label that is used today, and as long as you find it somewhere on the package of whatever you’re about to eat, you’re good to go. The TACC in SinTACC stands for trigo (wheat), avena (oats), cebada (barley), centeno (rye).
Having good labeling however, does not mean that someone is checking to make sure that the available gluten-free products are tasty and worth buying. That’s where this list comes in:
1. Cracker: Gallo Snacks – Bizcochos de Arroz
(both the ‘Salados’ and ‘Tortita Negra’). Rice crackers are literally everywhere here, but when super-humid Buenos Aires makes even the driest cracker completely malleable, it’s important to find that crunch. The Gallo snacks deliver and then some. Totally addictive.
2. Chips: Macritas Nachos.
Perfect by themselves and for dipping.
3. Prepackaged cookies: Smams brand products.
Especially if you need some Oreo style cookies in your life.
4. Cereal: Patagonia
I’m gonna go ahead and say Patagonia because it’s everywhere and does the trick. I’m still on the hunt for a good Cheerios replacement though…
5. Alfajor: Merengo Libre
Alfajor de Chocolate y Dulce de Leche. You won’t even miss the real thing. Almost. (Chocolate not pictured! Still tasty though)
6. Dry Pasta: Blue Patna ‘Al Huevo’
Seriously delicious and lots of shape options. Dedalitos are my favorite.
7. Ñoqui Mix: Kapac ‘Premezcla para preparar Ñoquis’
Better than any other ñoquis I’ve had, and all you need is water and a little extra cornstarch or rice flour to roll them out with.
8. Empanadas: CeliGourmet
The 3-pack of cebolla y queso will change your lunch (or cheesy midnight snack) game forever. It’s worth mentioning that CeliGourmet is actually a chain of stores that sell food that is ALL gluten-free. Awesomesauce.
9. Soy Sauce: Sakura Light.
Warning! This does not have the SinTACC label on it. I’m including it here because it is a soy sauce made without wheat, and I’ve never had a reaction to it. Consume at your own risk. I just can’t live without sushi, pad see ew, etc.
10. Overall Brand: CeliGourmet
This brand is the gold standard for sure, but if you can’t make the trip to their stores, I would put my money on Gallo (SinTACC options) and Kapac mixes.
Bread: I still haven’t found anything that is even worth consuming without toasting. Bio ‘Campero’ tipo criollo does the job if you are in dire need of a sandwich.
Flour Blend: My bad on this one. I have only tried one and it wasn’t even worth mentioning. Add your favorite to the comments section.
Beer: I can’t find any! Someone told me that the Corona that they sell in Argentina is magically gluten-free, but I’m not sure if that statement has any basis in reality. Again: comments section!
Obviously not all of these options are available at every supermarket. I would recommend finding your local dietética and scoping out their selection. Hopefully this will save you from a few pesos of trial and error and some disappointing eating experiences. A few more good resources:
Gluten Free Online Store (delivers!)