Safe Sweets and Food Allergies in Italy

“Abby, look at that dessert. You should try it. It looks amazing!” I often say to my roommate when we walk by a bakery or shop in an outdoor market. It is difficult not to! Everything looks delicious and if I could try it I definitely would.

The most difficult part of living abroad with food allergies has been missing out on trying all of the gorgeous desserts. I’ve always had a sweet tooth. Even more than all of the beautiful pastries though is my favorite, ice cream (gelato).

When we first moved to Italy in August it was incredibly hot, so my friends would go at least once a day to get gelato. I was very jealous! When it gets warm again here, I would like to see if there are any fruit flavors I can try. There is a lot of cross contamination though, which is why I have been so weary about trying it. The gelateria in my neighborhood has the fruit flavors on one side, and all the others on the opposite side. My goal is to be able to explain in Italian about my allergies and ask what the ingredients are, if she can use a clean scoop, etc. I also have my card to back me up!

Now that I have been living here for five months, reading ingredients in Italian has been so much easier. I don’t even need to bring my dictionary with me to the store anymore. I know what most ingredients are. If I have a question I don’t buy it or if I think it is okay, I buy it and then double check with my dictionary when I get home. I am finally at a point where I feel like Italy is home and the grocery store is just a normal (and easy) part of my week. It is nice to finally be able to say that!

Baking in Italy is one other difficulty that my roommate and I are faced with. Both of us enjoy baking and whenever we want to bake we run into a few of the same problems. There is a combination product of baking soda and baking powder instead of both separately that makes whatever we bake taste exactly the same. There is also no vanilla extract, just these packages of two viles called Vanilla Aroma, which also make everything taste the same. It is really nothing like vanilla extract.

Since our first few baking experiences we have been home to the U.S. and brought back with us the ingredients that we need (including chocolate chips that I can eat), so now we should be all set for the rest of the year!

I feel very lucky that for the most part I am not having many difficulties eating here. Of course, there will always be some hard days like when I am craving ice cream. Overall though, I’ve acclimated pretty easily to la dolce vita!

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One Comment

  1. You are amazing! You do this all with such grace! Thanks for sharing…it makes a difference to all of your readers!

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