Special events are always a bit of a nightmare for a hungry coeliac between the beer-only bars and burger vans. I always have a back-
up option in my handbag for those special occasions and relish in the fact that I am at least healthier and for once paying less for food than my grease-eating friends. At the Olympics, however, I hope for better. After all, we are welcoming the whole world to our city, with all of their appetites and food requirements. Surely LOCOG can feed me a decent gluten-free meal? I am terribly excited about having Olympic and Paralympic tickets, but my excitement is tempered a little by the potential for food grumps as everyone else tucks into fish ‘n’ chips.
Catering at the Venues
In terms of catering options at the Olympic venues I have had no reply to my email enquiries about specific gluten-free provision, but if you wade through the 42 page Food Vision you will find that one of their ambitions is to “Ensure there is a diverse range of food and beverage for all customers, catering for all dietary and cultural requirements, that are high quality, value for money and accessible”. Elsewhere in the document I am mildly amused that even the food has to have a ‘legacy’. I’m hoping the food only leaves a legacy of healthy villi!
There is a reference to gluten free specifically on the London 2012 site: “In planning the menus, we have given consideration to people following gluten-free diets…” Promising, nice to know I am ‘considered’, but no specifics. I am at least hopeful that there will be food beyond the McDonald’s burger without bun as this sample menu on the London 2012 site suggests better things.
On the subject of McDonald’s, you might think that the biggest McDonald’s in the world would cater well for coeliacs, and take its cue from it’s Swedish franchises in offering gluten-free buns. As the only specifically named catering venue on the Olympic Park, I emailed them and got the reply: “At this moment in time we have no plans to introduce a gluten free bun to any of our McDonald’s restaurants in the UK. I am sorry for any disappointment this may cause.” A shame.
Taking a Packed Lunch
There has been some worry on online forums about the ability to take food into the venue as a back-up. The Restricted Items list prohibits “excessive amounts of food” which is pretty vague and in the wake of the security scandal wondering if this will be open to interpretation by the security staff – does that mean no picnic for my family? Or are LOCOG kindly helping me watch my waistline by banning that extra large bar of chocolate? (probably not if it’s their sponsor, Cadbury!) Luckily, an email to ticket holders has since clarified: “You can bring food, provided it fits in your bag, and an empty plastic water bottle to fill up inside the venue.”. Phew, panic over.
So in conclusion, I will be taking a packed lunch – but not a big one, and without my usual ice-packed cool bag. We have tickets for the first Olympic Beach Volleyball session at 9am on Saturday 28th July, so I will report back with findings on the catering available and what security make of gluten free bread!