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Allergy-friendly Spanish food

Considering studying abroad in Barcelona this summer and have food allergies (wheat, dairy, soy, I can have butter). Any suggestions for restaurants or dishes to look for?

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  1. should be easy enough to cope: certainly don't let it stop you from going!!

    1. You'll love the 'escalivada' with tuna.



      Sepia con all i oli (grilled cuttlefish with garlic mayonnaise)

      Tortilla de patata (egg, fried potato, onion)

      1. I've lived in Spain for 10 years and my son has some serious food allergies (egg, mustard). I can say that there is a lot more awareness and understanding now than there was before. One good thing is that food here tends to not be processed, so people generally have a clear idea of what the ingredients were and waiters can run back to the kitchen to ask, to be sure. If you always err on the side of caution and let people know ahead of time when you can, you should be fine.

        I recommend getting a sense of what's off limits and dishes where your forbidden ingredients could be lurking.

        I would say anything deep fried (frito, a la romana, empanada) would be out for you, because of the wheat allergy. The oil would be contaminated, even if you order something like tortillitas de camerón, which are made with garbanzo flour instead of wheat.

        I'd always ask about stews, soups, and bean dishes, because some may use a little flour for thickening--though it's just as likely a big chunk of fatback is doing that job.

        Dessert will also be tough. The only one that comes to mind that you could order would be tocino del cielo--little custardy squares that are pure egg and sugar. Also mazapanes and turrones--but you probably won't see those in the summer (they are Christmas treats).

        I'm sure Barcelona, like Madrid, has some bakeries that cater to people with Celiac disease and that some of their pastries would be non-dairy, as well.

        A lot of bar food would be good for you, because it tends to just include a few ingredients and it's apparent what they are.

        Seafood and dairy don't mix here at all, so as long as it isn't breaded, fried, or dusted with flour, you should be good. Also marisquerías specialize in simply prepared, unadulterated critters from the sea: berberechos (cockles), ostras (oysters), nécora/centollo/buey de mar (crab), percebes (goose barnacles), mejillones (mussels), navajas (razor clams), etc.

        1. Thanks all for the helpful tips!

          1. write down in Spanish what your allergies are and the food items you cannot eat. Show this to the waiters if needed.

            1. Fish, outside of Asturias I haven't seen much dairy in the food.Wheat = trigo.

              6 Replies
              1. re: MOREKASHA

                I think you forget just how much we have here in Spain ,-)
                Gazpacho has cream in it.
                Tapas can come with bread.
                Cheese tortilla.
                Empanadas have wheat made crust.
                Plus many ice creams and yogurs.
                and do not forget Churros all of these have things that the person with the allergies cannot eat.
                I think there is more, no¿

                1. re: Lugosur

                  To the best of my knowledge, gazpacho, at least gazpacho andaluz, does not contain cream, but does contain bread. Southern Spanish food normally doesn't contain dairy.

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    I would add that a classic Tortilla doesn't have cheese either.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      you are correct but I never wrote about classic one.

                    2. re: SnackHappy

                      you should perhaps read the websites, sometime gazpacho does, and this person is not going south.
                      Here is something in English for you:
                      There is no real one gazpacho.

                      1. re: Lugosur

                        I've read plenty about Spanish food and, despite the OP not going south, gazpacho andaluz is what they are most likely to run into in Barcelona.

                        BTW, nowhere in that wikipedia article does it mention cream as a possible ingredient. And neither does this one: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gazpacho

                        I would be more than happy to read any links you have in Spanish or English that refer to cream as an ingredient in gazpacho.

                2. One thing that I noticed, in smaller cafes and bars, was the risk of cross contamination, via cutting boards and work surfaces. So, cutting board and/or knife which was beside the bread, might also be used for preparing your food.
                  +1 on the recommendation of having your allergen information translated. I'd go one step further and print some wallet-sized cards.