by Megan Wohlers correspondent
Imagine that you could never eat some of your favorite foods, such as pasta, doughnuts or pizza. Imagine wistfully sitting in the SDR next to your roommate, who is happily munching on a piece of cake, chocolate frosting oozing out of each fork hole. This is the reality for many gluten-free students. However, with the SDR’s gluten-free corner, this does not
have to be the reality anymore. The gluten-free corner in the SDR is a relatively new option with an impressive variety of op- tions for all three meals. Junior communications major Pavel Adámek, has been working in the SDR for five semesters and be- cause he has celiac disease, cannot eat gluten.
“For me, personally, I am happy with what they do,” Adámek said. “It’s not very realistic to cook for like 1,200 people, to cook for vegetarians, gluten-free every single meal.”
To eliminate cross-contamination, Adámek said, the SDR staff separates the baking section, keeping the flours in separate places and making sure that the regular flour does not come close to the gluten-free flours. When they grill gluten-free foods, it is done in separate ovens and in different pans. Concerning other food lines, he said that there is a list in the gluten-free section that shows which other foods are gluten-free and dairy-free.
It is more challenging for the SDR to accommodate students who have allergies other than gluten and dairy. “They don’t really do that. They would have to hire more cooks,” Adámek said.
In contrast to the SDR, the Commons is not as safe a place for students with celiac disease. For example, hamburgers have a high risk of cross-contamination because burgers and buns are grilled in the same place. Adámek said that sometimes there is safe food from the blue-plate section. Aside from this, there are salads and fruits that gluten-free students can eat.
When asked what some of his favorite foods from the gluten-free corner, Adámek said, “I like the baked stuff.” The SDR recently hired a cook who began to experiment and try new things, so lately there have been doughnuts and muffins in the baked goods section. He also said that sometimes the food from the gluten-free corner is better than the non-gluten-free food, because it isn’t processed as much as the food in the main line.
Another improvement is a new fryer specifically for the gluten-free corner. Previously, the French fries were oven-baked, but with the addition of the new fryer, they are more like traditional French fries.
While the SDR is doing an impressive job, there is room for improvement. “I want to eat soup sometimes,” Adámek said. “Once in a while, the soup is gluten-free.”
The SDR also does not have a toaster. “All the bread is good, but it’s in the refrigerator,” Adámek said. “And they have bagels; if there [were] a toaster, that would make things better. In other ways, I’m pretty satisfied.”