So I went to a restaurant last week with a friend and ordered a Caesar salad with chicken. I advised them that I was gluten intolerant so no croutons. I also asked if the chicken was marinated in anything and they told me that it was just plain chicken cooked on the grill. So far so good.
Then they came back and said that they were cooking me a new piece of chicken because it had some Italian dressing on it. I asked why they felt that the Italian dressing was suspect and they told me that it contained yeast extract. I thought to myself, I don’t think yeast extract contains gluten but I had that hint of doubt so I let them cook me a new piece of chicken. Again, ok so far I guess.
Then they came back out again to tell me something. Now, remember, I ordered a chicken Caesar salad. They came out to tell me that, just to be safe, and out of a concern for my health, they will not be serving me my Caesar salad with Caesar dressing because it too contained yeast extract. Now the Caesar salad is something I’ve had many, many times. I’ve even looked into the ingredients of a lot of Caesar dressings like Marzetti’s Original Caesar dressing as well as their light version and their website indicates that they are gluten free. Just as a side note, all of their dressings listed are gluten free except the Asian Sesame dressing. And, additionally, the light Caesar dressing does contain yeast extract in the ingredients.
I still was thinking that yeast extract was ok but I couldn’t remember for sure. They offered me some balsamic vinegar and olive oil as a safe substitute for the Caesar dressing.
They also asked if I could eat dairy and I said that I could. But the salad came out (after quite a bit of time) looking a bit lacking. It turns out it was just a whole bunch of lettuce and 4 tiny strips of plain chicken breast – no cheese. I wanted to eat and I didn’t want to bother with the elusive waitress so I went ahead and put some balsamic vinegar and olive oil on it and proceeded to eat it without the cheese.
Needless to say I was a bit disappointed with the salad. But as soon as I got home I looked up yeast extract to see what the story was there. Someone must have told the management staff that yeast extract contained gluten, right? Well, according to the celiac.com website, yeast was on the OK list – no mention of yeast extract though so on with my search. When I searched for yeast extract to see if it was gluten free, the moderator of the website, celiac.com, said that both yeast and yeast extract were gluten free.
It also states that autolyzed yeast extract is also gluten free.
I guess in this instance I was better off eliminating it because I wasn’t 100% certain but it just goes to show you that you really have to be a detective with some food items and ingredients. When I go back to the restaurant I will bring this to their attention. I missed you, Caesar salad! I think I’ll have one tonight!