I have to be honest, I was never really a fast-food aficionado in my pre-diagnosis days. It served a purpose when on the run or as a special treat as a child but was never really de rigueur. So, after my celiac diagnosis I really didn’t miss it that much but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t the occasional moment where it would have been convenient to be able to grab something and go. That being said, the majority of fast food in the U.S. is absolute garbage and more Frakenfood than anything I would actually want to eat.
Prior to my most recent visit to Switzerland I had heard that McDonald’s was introducing a gluten-free burger option so thought it would be fitting, after more than twenty years, to finally set foot in a McDonald’s and take one for the team.
So after attending a benefit event that went well into the night, I was walking back to my hotel and was a bit hungry. The lights from the golden arches were shining into the night almost beckoning for me to enter. I decided why not and walked up to the counter. Now first of all the gluten-free burger is not listed on the displayed menus so unless you are in the know you would not know that it was even on offer. Thankfully I speak fluent French so confirmed that they did in fact have it and also that they had a fryer that only handled French fries when I visited. It is important to note that not all locations have dedicated fry fryers though the fries in Switzerland are gluten-free — unlike those in the U.S. which contain gluten. My non-celiac husband also decided to indulge in a regular burger and fries — something he has not had since my celiac diagnosis (and being from Bermuda where there are no fast food outlets aside from a lone KFC, he is not a fast food fan so this was a rare treat).
The preparation of the burger took longer than a traditional burger since it is prepared separately and actually heated in a protective plastic bag to prevent cross contamination. Our items were then packed and we were on our way back to the hotel. I have to say it was a bit exciting walking back with the bag since it was one of those moments where you just feel normal — not to mention that I was anticipating actually indulging in a fast food burger and fries. Okay, there might have been a Coke in there as well — again, a true treat since I have maybe two or three in an entire year.
We were quickly back at Le Montreux Palace and I laid out some plates and utensils for the unpacking of our snack. I had to smile as here we were in a wonderfully luxurious five star hotel with amazing gluten-free options and I was about to dive into a McDonald’s burger. Again, it felt empowering because for one brief moment I was able to forget about being celiac and just enjoy a treat of convenience.
Now for the million dollar question — How was it? Well, it was okay. It will definitely not win any awards for presentation (it was a bit of a hot mess appearance-wise) but I mean let’s face it — it is still a McDonald’s hamburger but it is made with 100% Swiss beef so that is something. The gluten-free burger is actually two beef patties with cheese. It comes on a Schär bun but because it is reheated in its own bag there are no condiments, lettuce, tomato or pickles like a traditional version. The texture of the bread was actually quite good for being refreshed in a bag and the cheese was melted and everything was warmed through (I had read reviews of the burgers not heating all the way through). The taste was, well, okay for being cooked in a bag but tasted like it was cooked in a bag. It did serve its purpose though offering a late night snack that was safe for celiacs and it was definitely filling.