You slowly start to realize that your stomach is bloated after every meal, and the diarrhea does not want to get any better – even though you thought it was just a stomach bug. You are getting more tired day by day, your skin becomes drier and drier, and it’s getting itchy as well. You visit your doctor, they do a blood test, x-ray, send you to a specialist – and another month has passed. You are still weak and lost some weight, and the cream for your itchy skin doesn’t seem to be working. You start to be nervous.
At the end of the third month you finally get your diagnosis: Celiac disease. You are glad that at least you can be sure what is going on with you, now you have „only” one challenge: keep your gluten-free diet and all of your symptoms are going to disappear. First of all you start to bake your own bread from corn and gluten-free flour, and in the restaurant you avoid pasta. Then you realize that it’s not so obvious what contains gluten. In Hungary almost everything is condensed with flour, soups are cooked with pasta, and 80% of the meat dishes – and frequently even the vegetables – are breaded. Well yes, it is not as easy as you thought. Your nine-to-five job and/or having a family requires lots of effort from you to cook separately for yourself and pack your food – especially if you have to start making a sandwich by baking your own bread first. Not to mention the sweets! Luckily nowadays the companies are obliged to note if the product contains gluten, but this means you have almost no choice in the shops. There is gluten in the ice-cream, in the salamis, in the meals with soy sauce etc.
So far we only mentioned the possibilities and we haven’t talked about the prices. Let’s just say the gluten-free diet is expensive. And also discriminative. You cannot go and just grab something to eat with your colleagues or have a slice of cake with your friends. You also have to eat differently than your family.
Fortunately in the last few years you can get gluten-free meals in some places. In Hungary there is the Organization for People Suffering from Celiac Disease where you can find the names and the addresses of the shops and fast food restaurants where you can get gluten-free products. Furthermore in many restaurants now you can identify gluten-free meals from the small sign on the menu. But there is still one problem: it is not enough if the ingredients of a meal do not contain gluten. All the equipments and tools used for making the dish have to be clean from gluten too.
In Budapest now you can find one restaurant that serves only gluten-free food: the Köles (Millet). Here you can be sure that there is no gluten in the kitchen. You don’t have to worry what if they cut your gluten-free pizza with a knife used to cut one that contains gluten before: you are in a safe place. They pay attention to wrap and store the products in gluten-free environment as well. And there is one more thing why Köles is a unique place: the two owners are very keen on sustainability. Healthy lifestyle and eating habits frequently came together with environmental protection, which this restaurant has been showcasing from the beginning. The most nutritious food for everyone is fresh, seasonal and local. By using local ingredients, you can avoid the pesticides what they use during the transportation to keep the product „fresh and healthy”. In Köles the main aim is to offer a balanced and healthy diet for those who are suffering from any type of intolerance, and as a result of it might suffer from a boring diet. Everyone needs carbohydrates; people with celiac disease cannot skip it either. In this place they substitute wheat with millet, corn and buckwheat. And they are also focusing on helping their customers develop better eating habits.
The meals are changing every day. Everyone can choose from the daily menu where you can always find a vegetarian option too. There are different types of salads, and when we ate there were two types of cakes (fabulous cheesecake and a cocoa cake). They always use seasonal ingredients: when we visited we could choose vegetarian baked cauliflower with ewe cottage cheese, spicy apple soup, beetroot and celery salad, chicken stew with celery and walnut cream served with potato. The ingredients are purchased by the owners – Krisztina and Rita – at the local markets. They even have a favorite butcher and they are happy to pedal a couple of kilometers for the best meat in town. Yes, the two girls are doing their shopping while riding their bicycles around the city.
Lately the expats in Budapest discovered the place, so for them the restaurant offers Hungarian chicken stew on the menu frequently. To make various meals on a seasonal basis is a big challenge in the winter, but luckily Rita has lots of experience about creative cooking. Creativity is one of the main strength for the owners, which is proven by the decoration as well: you can find huge drawings on the walls and jars filled with millet – as well as a „millet-wall”. The delivery service (on bikes of course!) started on the very day we ate in Köles. Therefore now you can order your lunch in the 6th, 7th, 8th districts and the southern part of the 13th. Everything was delicious thanks to the two chefs – Ádám and Rita -, we highly recommend to try this place even if you are lucky and don’t have to follow a special diet!
The owners of Köles don’t sell any Coca-cola products, but they have 7-8 different types of syrups from Hungarian producers what you can try with some fizzy water. Unfortunately they are unique with this solution as well, since 99% of the restaurants are serving unhealthy, sugary drinks what are producing lots of plastic waste. The bottles of the syrups are refilled by the producers so no waste is produced here!
Waste minimization is a core value for Köles. Kriszta is separating the waste by herself. The portions are calculated well, if there is some leftover they usually eat it for dinner. The leftover veggies are used for veggie broth for the rice and buckwheat, so they don’t need to use any flavor enhancer. Also they use a special salt from Transylvania, and obviously they don’t use any artificial flavors or preservatives. Their latest improvement is also waste related: they found an animal shelter where they can donate the any food waste, so they don’t have to dispose that either. The owners are so determined they even asked us before the opening how can they be greener, but they were already so well-informed that we almost could not advice them anything new! Of course, they became a member of our Heroes of Responsible Dining Network quickly. They created a very unique restaurant within only two months and they filled a huge gap on the restaurant map if Budapest. Let’s go and try it yourself!