The Emirates Gluten-Free Meal: Solace for “Gluten-tummies”
Do you have trouble with your stomach after eating cereal, bread, pasta, or drinking beer? — If you get stomach aches and a lot of gas after eating these foods, you may have a gluten allergy, which is relatively common, or it could be the beginning of the celiac disease, which is a much more serious disease that needs medical attention.
If you are allergic to wheat or have gluten intolerance, which is caused by a protein in grains like wheat and rye, you should be careful about what you eat at home or on a plane. Luckily, you are not the only one. A conservative estimate says that wheat or gluten causes digestive problems in about 6% of people worldwide.
It’s a terrible condition for those who fly. Travelling with a “gluten” tummy can make the passenger highly uncomfortable. Avoiding “gluten-containing” foods for 6 hours before and during the flight is the best course of action. But how can I forego my favourite dish from my favourite airport restaurant in the name of gluten?
Emirates Gluten-Free Menu
When I started experiencing symptoms similar to those associated with gluten tummy after eating wheat/barley-containing foods or beverages, I changed my meal preferences in my Skyward account (Emirates’ frequent flyer program) in 2019 to “gluten-free”. Although I later declared gluten-free after several tests, I forgot to change my meal preferences to “Normal.”
As the COVID outbreak subsided, I began to travel for business and pleasure like many of you. My first flight following the COVID embargo was to Frankfurt on Emirates Airlines. I was thrilled to be back on the plane. However, a depressing
surprise was literally cooking for me. After about 30 minutes into the flight, a flight attendant approached me and said, “Sir, your gluten-free lunch is here.” She had a sympathetic smile on her face as she passed the meal tray. I was perplexed. She had already left when I connected my “special meal” with Skyward’s “gluten-free” meal preferences.
I wanted to change it to a regular meal. In fact, I had been fantasising about a chicken entrée and a glass of red wine to kickstart my lunch when this happened. I should have changed my meal preferences on the net. My bad. I pressed the calling bell and waved at passing flight attendants. I decided to fight for a regular meal. However, it was not my lucky day! The air hostess informed me gently that the plane had no spare regular meals. I’m in a lot of trouble.
Since my attempt failed, I decided to proceed with what I had. So I opened the meal cover. “It’ll be a tasteless hospital meal,” I reasoned. But it wasn’t!
The main course was a hearty three-bean stew topped with pan-fried codfish battered in pumpkin. The pumpkin was delicious, and the fish was flavorful and crispy enough to stand on its own. To compensate for the blandness of the fish and pumpkin, I had to add salt. The stew was also tasty, though the light sweetness of the stew overpowered the buttery, cumin-flavoured fish. I wished the stew had a little more heat. The white bread in the meal kit was from Skinny Genie, a well-known producer of gluten-free foods in Dubai. (www.skinny-genie.com). It tasted almost like bread. However, the Croxton Mannor English cheese, which I love with Merlot, seemed out of place in the gluten-free meal kit. The cucumber salad was flavourless. That was the only thing on the menu with a medicinal flavour. The gluten-free chocolate cake was rich and delectable.
Emirates gluten-free meal: Verdict
I had a satisfying lunch. I was able to sleep for two hours without interruption. The gluten-free lunch was fantastic. Emirates demonstrated that gluten-free meals need not have to be bland. I rate the gluten-free meals on Emirates flights departing from Dubai 8 out of 10. I recommend the gluten-free menu for travellers with gluten allergies.