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Eat Drink Perth for the Digestively Challenged

March 10, 2011 · 64 comments

Fear not, my digestively challenged friends! You too can revel in the eating and drinking fest that is Eat Drink Perth without having to fill your pockets with emergency antacid supplies and take a pet dog around with you to blame for potential alarming gas situations.

As those of you who follow me on twitter (@ConorHoldthBeef) may be aware from my recent whinging, I am currently on an elimination diet to sort out some digestive quirks. More specifically, I am currently on a low FODMAP diet, meaning that I am reducing or eliminating the amount of Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols getting into my system.

In more digestible (ha!) language, this means I am following a low gluten, lactose, fructan and fructose diet. After following it for 6-8 weeks you can then reintroduce things one by one and see what effect it has on your system, to try and ascertain what foods trigger unhappiness in your belly (wishing with every ounce of your being that these won’t include chickpeas, broccoli or apples). It’s been a bit of a tough slog to cut out so many things that bring me joy, but in the quest for an end to belly unhappiness I am being strong!

Another moment in my life when I had to be strong, at the Australian Open tennis this year sitting in front of the world's most irritating tennis spectators.

The past few weeks have given me an insight into what it’s like for those with food intolerances, and I have to say it can all get a bit tiring. In what felt too stereotypical a situation to be true, I had a French waiter at Fraser’s Restaurant laugh at me when I said I couldn’t eat any of their suggested (full of gluten) breads, after I’d also just explained I couldn’t have the pear salad he suggested as it was too high in fructose for my diet (I do have to add though that the subsequent meal we had was delicious and well presented, and the rest of the wait staff were great).

I thought in this great month of eating and drinking, when I am so horribly restricted in both, to share some of the foods about the City of Perth that are suitable for those on such diets. Although the FODMAP diet is essentially a gluten-free one, I have been reasonably casual about eating wheat in small amounts such as in Vegemite and soy sauce, so some of my suggestions may not be entirely suitable for Coeliac sufferers.

Let’s get things started with breakfast/brunch:

  • Yum cha/dim sum is possibly fraught with danger for coeliac sufferers due to potential cross-contamination and the gluten content in many flavourings, but options for the lesser gluten-intolerant and those following a FODMAP diet include rice flour rolls, Chinese greens, roast duck, radish cake, congee, sticky rice and sago pudding. Our favourite yum cha haunt has been Jade Chinese Seafood Restaurant (now called Xintiandi) but we recently had a good experience at Northbridge Chinese Restaurant, and have also heard good things about Dim Sim Cafe and Dragon Palace.

Rice flour rolls, hiding prawns, not gluten!

  • Quite often there are gluten-free/low gluten and FODMAP friendly options on breakfast menus that I find more attractive than the other dishes anyway. Things like the house-cured salmon and potato cake, or poached eggs and polenta special at CNR in Northbridge that I discovered the other day.

House smoked salmon and potato cake, and poached eggs and polenta from CNR in Northbridge

  • Coffee is totally gluten free and FODMAP friendly if you drink it black or use lactose-free milk. Good coffee places are popping up all over the joint in Perth, check out the Eat Drink Perth guide for many suggested places and if you already have a favourite, vote for it to win a year’s supply of sweet, sweet caffeine (or, you know, super bitter) for free!

and now onto Lunch and dinner ideas:

  • Freshly shucked oysters – this really seems to be in its heyday in Perth at the moment, with restaurants such as Fiorentina offering freshly shucked delights when the mood takes you, and many small bars such as 399 offering regular oyster days for their punters.

Freshly shucked oysters from the hands of Jerry Fraser

  • Rice paper rolls are a great gluten-free lunch or entrée option, and their fillings are often FODMAP friendly too. My favourite local purveyor is Phi Yen, either at their main restaurant in Northbridge or their outlet in the enex100 shopping centre in the city.

Gỏi Cuốn Chay from Phi Yen

  • In fact, there are often many FODMAP friendly choices in Asian restaurants due to their tendency to use rice as their carbohydrate. Your usual Pad Thai, for instance, is great for the FODMAP diet as long as you steer clear of the white parts of spring onions.

My version of Pad Thai, totally FODMAP friendly and gluten free

  • It was a happy day when I learnt Jus Burgers was opening up a new store within an easy walk from my house, on William Street in Northbridge. They have a gluten-free bun option with all of their burgers, and I’ve found the Pancetta Chicken burger (minus the Spanish onion) is a delicious FODMAP friendly option as long as you’re not a ‘oh-god-what-is-this-pineapple-doing-in-my-savoury-dish-Hawaiian-pizzas-are-the-work-of-the-devil-argh’ type person.

Pineapple is your friend (yes, this is the closest photo I have to a burger with pineapple in it, and I realise it does nothing to help fight against the pineapple-is-weird-in-savoury-dishes movement)

and now some Eat Drink Perth treats for the FODMAPper or Coeliac sufferer:

  • You can’t let March pass you by without having some of Marcelita’s Empanadas at the Twilight Hawker Market in Forest Place. The dough is made with gluten-free corn meal, but you may want to double check with Matt or Marcela if there are any gluten sources in the fillings. Be warned though – FODMAP followers will have their hearts broken by the delicious guacamole optional extra that they’re not allowed to eat.
  • Feeling game? Want to show all those gluten lovers what you’re made of? Take on the Pho Eating Competition at What the Pho? in Northbridge, held from 6:30pm to 7:30pm every Wednesday in March. Chris from Bon Viveur and I are planning to take it on next week. If you finish a jumbo sized pho you get it for free, plus a food voucher to use later when you’re feeling less explosive. Really though, this is the kind of thing you do for the high fives, not for the prize.
  • Although many sausages contain gluten, good old unadulterated meat is well and truly on the cards for both Coeliacs and FODMAPpers alike! Head down to The Butchers’ Picnic at the end of the month to give your iron levels a good top up and get better acquainted with where your meat actually comes from.

And finally, this weekend the Coles Gluten Free Food and Healthy Living Expo is on at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, and I’m sure they will have much more useful information than what I can offer.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fill in my food record diary.. sigh…

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