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Crepes in Paris and tree nut allergy

  • m
  • moi Jun 28, 2010 04:40 PM

hi! my son is allergic to tree nuts so i know nutella is off limits with its hazelnuts. Is there a creperie i can contact by email before we go in two weeks to ask about tree nut allergy and crepes?

are there creperies that don't even have nutella?

what are the ingredients of crepe batter in paris?

thank you all so much!!!!!!!

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  1. I think it will be nigh on impossible to find a Nutela free creperie it is almost a French classic now.
    As too the ingredients I believe in general they are various wheat or buckwheat flours, with milk and eggs. If it was a Corsican place it may use chestnut flour, but crepes aren't really Corsican and so that is probably very unlikely (but make certain he doesn't try "Pietra" a Corsican beer because it is made with chestnuts)

    19 Replies
    1. re: PhilD

      hi! thank you so much! is there a big creperie that is common around paris/france ----maybe i can contact them in advance to see if they can make a crepe that would be nut-free? where do you usually get crepes (are you allergic to tree nuts too?) in paris?

      do you know if regular french baguettes are nut-free?

      thank you!

      1. re: moi

        I would telephone Briezh Cafe. They speak English and I imagine that they would be helpful. For baguettes, traditionally, a baguette is made with only flour, salt, water and yeast.

        1. re: Nancy S.

          But I would assume that most bakeries are NOT nut free since they do a lot of other things that might involve nuts... just be careful

          1. re: Maximilien

            thanks! Will do!!! we are always very careful! thank you!

            1. re: moi

              i just called Breizh Cafe and the person who answered spoke english and he said it is not a problem to make crepes without nuts. thank you so much

              1. re: moi

                You will enjoy Breizh Cafe. Besides the crepes, they have an excellent choice of ciders.

                1. re: moi

                  I don't understand your request. If it's that there is no nut ingredient in your crepe, any creperie will do. There's no nuts in crepes. But if it is that they don't use ustensils that have touched Nutella, I doubt any of them can guarantee that, except maybe the ones that have no Nutella crepes on their menu.

                  1. re: souphie

                    Souphie. Next time you're in a supermarket, especially in the States or England, look at the packets and see all of the fun things that you would think would have nuts in them, but yet carry the warning "May Contain Nuts".

                    There's also the question of the cooking oil used in the batter, and to cook the crepe, which may be groundnut (peanut).

                    1. re: vielleanglaise

                      But the warning "may contain nuts" is simply to avoid legal action because the product has made in a factory that also makes products with nuts in them. It isn't there because nuts are an ingredient, it there to reduce the risk of being sued because nut dust floated into a product, or there was nut residue on a production line. I wonder (in the real world) if that has ever been a real problem or if it is simply the legal must have in these litigious days.

                      Cooking oils don't usually cause problems as they are so refined, and obviously peanut/ground nut oil isn't a tree nut oil anyway so not an issue here. Some other nut oils can be problematic because they are not refined as the idea is to extract the flavour (ground nut oil is refined to reduce the flavour to decrease the effect on the food it is cooked in) thus Walnut or Hazelnut oils used in dressings could be dangerous. These are quite uncommon in most restaurants in most countries (due to cost) but I wonder of there use in France is higher?

                      1. re: PhilD

                        I had the "privilege" of being present when a young boy allergic to nuts ate a biscuit containing peanuts that didn't list them in its ingredients. The results were spectacular.

                        The OP's concerns are legitimate.

                        We no doubt live in a "litigious" era, but concerning the food industry, those wonderful people who brought us mad cow disease, GM, aspartame, bleached flour, I like to know what's got into, or near my grub.

                        1. re: vielleanglaise

                          I'm not saying the concerns are not legitimate. I'm saying they won't be heard, and if I was in that situation, I would not trust any French restaurant telling me not to worry. They have no idea what nut allergy is or does, and the concept that an ingredient that is not present in the recipe, might still affect a patron is absolutely unknown to them (unless they eat or cook kosher, obviously)

                          A lot of stuff here also mentions something like "made in a factory that also makes cheese or nuts etc. ".

                          As for walnut and hazelnut oil, they're very uncommon in salad dressings because they're expensive (and fragile). They're common in fine dining, though, where they usually can tell you what's in the sauce. For instance, Passard's butter sauce often has hazelnut oil.

                          And indeed peanut is not a tree nut. In fact, it's a legume.

                          1. re: vielleanglaise

                            As a young boy who was allergic to nuts I lived (literally) through the spectacular results, and as an adult who is still allergic I still face the risk. Thus my comments were informed from experience.

                            France is interesting and potentially a problem because as Souphie says there isn't the the same level of recognition of this as an issue. I did read some stats about the incidence of allergies in different countries and I seem to remember France was quite low. Possibly due to the lower level of processed food in diets compared to the US/UK, two countries with a high reported incidence levels (I say reported because there is some evidence that many allergies are not medically confirmed through a robust testing regime). Because the incidence or allergies and the associated media attention is somewhat lower then extra care does need to be taken in French restaurants.

                            I am a good enough cook to understand what goes into most dishes, I used to specify my allergies to the staff, and then I would do a careful inspection before devouring the dish. That usually works but spectacular results can still occur.

                            1. re: PhilD

                              we are going to eat french baguettes and cheese (brie?) and at Breizh Cafe all the time. I have called Breizh cafe and they said that they can do it and will do it. we are not going to do any fine dining. we are going to stay in a castle in normandy and i am going to contact them in advance. And then there is always mcdonalds (yuck) and subway (yuck) but at least it is nut free. Top priority.

                              we have a translation from english to french explaining the information and lists all sources of tree nuts etc

                          2. re: PhilD

                            Those who are highly allergic can suffer a reaction to something contaminated with dust, a crepe that has been flipped with the same spatula used for a Nutella crepe, or even by eating something that has been fried in the same oil as something containing the allergen.

                            I've seen friends have reactions: a seafood allergy triggered by french fries from the same deep fryer where they'd been cooking shrimp...a nut allergy triggered by almond extract...a student in a cooking school where I taught having a reaction from a wooden spoon inadvertently used to stir two different dishes...and a stranger on a plane having a reaction from dust from the peanuts being eaten by the guy in the row in from of him. Scary, scary stuff. Fortunately, none of the reactions were serious, but all were genuine, physical reactions.

                            Cooking oils can and do cause problems, as can any residue on a production line or in a kitchen. It's called cross-contamination, and it unfortunately sends people to the hospital (and worse) every single day.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Fair enough. But with that kind of condition why take the risk of eating out at all, especially from a crepe stand. I can't think of a way that this kind of contamination can be excluded for sure.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Sunshine - I think you mis-understood the point about cooking oils. I was saying that something highly refined like ground-nut oil in itself is highly refined thus does not contain allergens that cause reactions. But obviously food can be cross contaminated in many ways so it is more likely that there was another source

                                However, the scientist in me, questions whether a deep fryer can be the source of cross contamination. Wouldn't the allergens (proteins) denature at that sort of heat and lose their allergic properties? It is much more likely that the cross contamination occurred some other way.

                                But the bottom line in France is that the incidence of reported allergies is far lower than in the US/UK (lots of theories why) and as a result there is less focus on the issues and as a result less understanding and care and attention. So France is more risky - I know I am allergic to some nuts (allergic enough to have been grateful for adrenalin injections).

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  had I not seen the seafood incident happen right in front of me (lips swelling, breath coming ragged because her throat was swelling ) I might doubt it, too...

                                  But she ate nothing but french fries, and when we ran to the concession stand to ask if they'd been cooking seafood in that fryer, they said yes, they had....it was an off-menu special that they didn't usually offer at the ball park.

                                  So no, not all allergens are destroyed by heat.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    ....but as you say it could have been lots of things, the tongs used to serve the food, the serving container, or some seafood left behind in the fryer scooped up with the frites. The correlation doesn't mean it is causal.

                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      Paper serving container...nope.

                                      Tongs? Maybe - same tongs used to dip everything out of the fryer (this was the concession stand at a Little League field)...but she is certain now to ask if they fry seafood before she orders FF now. The tongs were in and out of the hot fat all the time, though, so the same logic should apply to the tongs as to the grease.

                                      Fortunately, it was a mild reaction and immediate, so she'd only eaten a couple of fries and didn't need a pen or medical treatment....but it was pretty scary anyway, and really underlined how very, very sensitive some people can be to the most benign-looking things.

            2. Just last month came back from Paris, traveling with a tree nut and sesame allergic son.
              Had allergy cards that stated explicitly in French the severity of the allergy and the allergens.
              All restaurants were very helpful and seem to understand the problem. All checked with the kitchen staff before proceeding with the order. One suggested steamed rice instead of fries with the steak, as they were unsure of the oil in the fryer.
              He ate the baguettes after we examined them for stray sesame seeds. Never found any. Did
              not do desserts, except once profiteroles and that was fine. We went over the ingredients in the pate choux and ice cream and sauce.
              Yes, there were dishes that had more nut oils than in the states.
              We tried to eat when the restaurants first open for dinner (usually 7 PM) to avoid a hectic kitchen trying to process our request. He was there for a World Cup fencing competition and
              any use of an epi-pen would have disqualified him. We were careful, but felt fairly safe. It can be done.

              3 Replies
              1. re: meinNYC

                Where did you get the allergy cards?

                1. re: nevans

                  www.selectwisely.com/ has cards that are credit card size and laminated. They must do this in their spare time because sometimes you have to email them several times before you get a response. Their website works better with PC, not with Macs.
                  If you want to just print your own, Food Allergy Initiative has a template you can use to fill in your allergies. They are in English only, whereas selectwisely does them in every language you can think of.

                  1. re: meinNYC

                    Great tip, thanks!