Recent media around attempts to debunk people having food allergies are not helpful to those of us who sincerely have a food intolerance. If like me, you or your child has to carry an epi-pen then dining out can be difficult as there is a lack of understanding by many restaurateurs and wait-staff about food allergies. Media stories also do nothing to help break through this.
Here are my Top 10 Tips for dining out with a nut allergy, gathered over almost 40 years of experience.
Read recipes be familiar with what goes into various dishes even if you don’t cook especially as food trends can change traditional recipes.
Some cooks blur the lines when it comes to baking so watch out for almond or hazelnut meal being used to replace flour.
Some cuisines are better than others when it comes to using nuts choose Italian over Indian, French over Middle Eastern.
Desserts can be the most dangerous so aim for things like crème brulee, pannacotta, and lemon tart but always ask about garnishes.
For sweet tooths always avoid friends, coloured French macaroons (very popular at the moment) and check the bases of cheesecake don’t use walnuts. Also Blue Sapphire Gin is made with almonds.
Usually the better the restaurant the better the understanding and the willingness to make a substitution.
Cross contamination is not usually an issue in restaurants but be very careful with ice-cream parlours and gelato shops often they don’t clean the scoopers well enough to reduce the risk.
Don’t rely on menu descriptions especially in restaurants where English may not be the first language spoken.
When travelling overseas it may be an idea to have a written copy in a few different languages of I’m allergic to nuts which you can show when ordering food.
Be clear that you have an allergy and its not that you don’t like nuts. We need to educate people that food allergies are genuine and potentially life threatening.
Please enjoy dining out and, as frustrating as it is when people don’t listen or dismiss you, remember there are loads of websites where you can post reviews so really the onus is on the restaurant to treat you well.
Article submitted by What Can I Eat subscriber