I attended opening day at Marlins Park in Miami last week (to see the Cubs, not the Marlins), and was very plesaed to be able to enjoy a gluten-free hot dog and beer from a dedicated cart.
Unfortunately, we won't be able to do the same when the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp open their season at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
The Avoiding Gluten cart at Marlins Park
The Shrimp (is that what we call them for short?) will have gluten-free snacks available and a gluten-free cider, but unfortunately no hot dog or beer.
To his credit, Ernest Hopkins, director of food and beverage, is well aware of cross-contamination concerns with gluten-free concessions. And the reason the Shrimp don't offer things like hot dogs is that he doesn't think they can safely provide gluten-free options like that.
But, it's still a disappointment because as I've said many times, hot dogs and beer are part of the ballpark experience.
I was also disappointed when I attended several spring training games at Florida ballparks last month and couldn't find gluten-free hot dogs or beer. But I was pretty confident that I would find them in Miami, and I was rewarded.
On my last visit to Marlins Park three years ago, I was pleased to find a dedicated cart with gluten-free items but irritated that the cart was called the "Fit Cart." Like hot dogs and beer are part of a fitness regimen.
I was able to talk to the Marlins' executive chef and he assured me that the name of the cart would change. Sure enough, as you can see on the photo, the cart is now the "Avoiding Gluten" cart. I assume they used that name for legal reasons in case someone challenges the notion that the food meets the FDA standards to be labeled gluten free.
But again, on a cart where everything "avoids" gluten, I am pretty confident that the food I get is gluten free.
Some may be disappointed that the options are limited but all I want at the ballpark is a hot dog and beer. I was very happy.