Gluten Free Pizza - Battle of the Pizza Chains
Apparently is quite common in the gluten eating world to have your favourite take away big brand pizza. Some love a Domino's, some prefer Pizza Hut, some go mad for Pizza Express. I've never been privy to such things, this all passed me by before I went gluten free.
When I press people for further details, it seems to come down to the crust, the quality of toppings and the general feeling of wrongness(or not) upon completion of the pizza...
Wrongness after eating a takeaway is a feeling that I'm very familiar with so I wasn't hugely bothered about the Domino's and Pizza Hut's recent introduction of gluten free pizzas. However I went out and tried both for research purposes (honest guvnor) ;)
Both times I seemed to be the first person to order the gluten free pizza and both times the shop/restaurant staff seemed quite excited and a little nervous. Both times I collected the pizza - the Pizza Hut because my local shop didn't have the bases in yet and the Domino's because the shop is close to work.
I chose what I thought were the nicest sounding toppings from the ones on offer. Domino's are quite specific about what toppings are gluten free, this info wasn't that obvious at Pizza Hut.
I had the Pizza Hut pizza first and was quite impressed. Good taste, OK texture, stayed together, not too tough and overall it was a tasty and enjoyable meal. However, the pizza was different enough to make me feel like I was eating a 'special pizza, for special people' and I didn't feel I'd enjoyed a true take away pizza experience.
The Domino's pizza was a lot more like a proper pizza with a lovely crunchy base and a more 'normal' appearance. I ate the whole thing as though someone was going to steal it off me! Afterwards I did feel a bit odd though, not glutened but certainly like I'd just eaten quite a lot of fast food. As another blogger remarked, us non gluten types are just not used to processed food!
I did a bit of investigating to find out exactly what they put in the Domino's pizza bases to make them so 'gluteny' yet oddly chemically. I found a disturbing list of ingredients that included Avicel (what?) and calcium propionate.
I looked for the Pizza Hut ingredients and drew a big blank. (If anyone finds the ingredients, I'd love the link...)
In addition, cross contamination is obviously a worry. Coeliac UK has worked with both companies to help them get the bases right. However when it comes to preparation you are putting a lot of faith in individual staff members and staff training. And from what I've seen and over-heard, it is hit and miss.
Some Domino's chains are open until 5am and I'm really not holding out much hope for the person cooking the pizzas at that time of the morning to be using separate utensils etc!
This has certainly thrown up more questions than it has answered and these chains are sort of guinea pigs for the rest of the catering industry. Only time will tell if this can really work on such a large scale.