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Food allergies

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
San Diego, CA
7 posts
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Food allergies

I have allergies to gluten (wheat, bread, flour, beer, etc.) as well as dairy (milk, cheese, butter, etc.). I'm wondering how difficult it will be to "special order" meals in restaurants (please hold the cheese, please substitute corn tortilla instead of flour, please cook fish in oil instead of butter, etc.).

I don't want to seem high maintenance or offend the chef in any way... it's a health issue, not a weight-loss diet request or personal taste preference. Any recommendations? I'd hate to deny my family the pleasure of eating out on our vacation, all b/c of me. Thanks!

Sayulita
Destination Expert
for Sayulita
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606 posts
2 reviews
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1. Re: Food allergies

For whatever reason, the local population does not seem to be afflicted with allergies to nearly the same extent as the citizens of the US and Canada. While wait staff is eager to please the truth is that the staff just isn't accustomed to accommodating special requests so when you're busy in a kitchen habit tends to take over. Rather than be disappointed and/or being faced with the task of sending food back I would just order items that already met my needs. There are a lot of dishes that are naturally gluten and dairy free. You can grab some excellent tacos from one of many vendors, traditional tacos are dairy free unlike the US version, and corn tortillas are the norm. A bowl of pozole from Antonias is on my favorites list as well. You'll find items on most every menu that will suit your needs.

San Diego, CA
7 posts
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2. Re: Food allergies

Thanks Pita! Definitely good advice for sure.

What I was most looking forward to was the amazing selection of fresh local seafood (which is one of the few things I *can* eat... lol). Should I assume that any fish entree on the menu will be sautéed in butter (a no-no for me) or is there any chance it would be made with olive oil? Anyone know? Is it even worth asking in the restaurants when trying to order?

A gal can't live on tacos alone... :) Thanks in advance for anyone who might know the answer to this one!

Banff, Canada
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108 posts
8 reviews
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3. Re: Food allergies

My daughter has a lot of allergies and food sensitivities (egg/ dairy/ gluten/ soy,etc), and she is a vegetarian as well, so this really limits the places she can enjoy eating out. (It limits what she can eat off of many menus). We tend to bring some protein powders and light food items from home that help her, and also shop at the mega in Bucerias to pick up a few items that may work for her as well.

That said, she does not starve when we visit. There are usually a few items on each menu she can eat. Salads, black beans, salsas, a few vegetable soups, the tapenade at Don Pedros (we bring corn chips for her to dip as Don Pedros has pita bread for dipping), plus a few others. It is difficult to order many things, as allergies are not common in Mexico. It can be difficult to relay the dietary needs without speaking Spanish at many places. Many speak english, but sometimes the complex allergy talk/ translation has been a problem at a few places we have visited with our limited spanish.

If you are a celiac, it is much more difficult, thankfully my daughter has sensitivities, which mean she may get a bad stomach ache but not a more serious reaction. French fries seem to work for her which is too bad! The ice cream place on revolution does some water based fruit popsicles that are a nice treat for her, as opposed to milk based items. She has to pass on things like cheese, but many places make a nice guacamole (without cheese).

We have found luck with the chef's/ Luca at Miro Vino, an excellent Italian-Mexican fusion restaurant at the back of the plaza. They speak good english, and have cooked her portabello mushrooms without butter, in olive oil, without cheese to meet her dietary needs. I think it is a little easier to eat "allergy free" at places that are a little more expensive unfortunately. Many places use corn tortillas, not wheat, so that may work for you. There is a Friday morning farmers market where you can get some creatively filled corn tamales that she has liked as well. There was also a lady doing vegetarian sushi for sale that is very good at the Friday market. With Mexico, it is not like at home, you could bring in some safe food from home to a restaurant and they will not give you the "stink eye" you would receive at home. Ask around, I assume since you eat seafood, you will most likely be able to be fed, perhaps even easier than my vegetarian daughter. The seafood soup at Costenos on the beach is a must! Best of luck!

San Diego, CA
7 posts
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4. Re: Food allergies

Thank you, Jeff. This has been very, very helpful! I can't imagine having all of these issues AND being vegetarian. I live off of meat and veggies! :)

One last (related) question: My hubby and I both speak a fair amount of Spanish but would appreciate a very correct translation of the following. Can any fluent Spanish speakers out there tell me the best way to say:

"I am allergic to dairy (milk, butter & cheese). Is it possible to have the meal prepared with oil instead of butter?"

Thanks all! This forum is a lifesaver! :)

Sayulita
Destination Expert
for Sayulita
Level Contributor
632 posts
32 reviews
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5. Re: Food allergies

While my Spanish is very good, I thought it would be best to ask a Mexican. Here is a direct translation from a Mexican friend of mine:

"Soy alergico a los lacteos (leche, mantequilla y queso). Es posible que mi comida sea preparada con aceite en lugar de mantequilla? Gracias."

San Diego, CA
7 posts
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6. Re: Food allergies

Thank you so much, Toes! And don't worry, I wouldn't forget the 'gracias!' :)

Cardiff-by-the-Sea...
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37 posts
28 reviews
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7. Re: Food allergies

I would add that due to cultural differences (Mexicans do not like to say ''no'' and will sometimes say they can do something when they can't), and if you are Celiac (my daughter is too so I am familiar), and your dairy issues are genuine health ones I would not chance it at a restaurant. That given, Mexican cuisine does not have much dairy and they rarely use butter in cooking (mostly margarine and oils).

They do have delicious local chicken, corn tortillas can be had, and of course beans and fruit and vegetables.

Trail, Canada
Level Contributor
3,564 posts
2 reviews
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8. Re: Food allergies

My wife shares all of your sensitivities and a few more . YIKES! Do a google search for Gluten free translation cards , although the above version so kindly provided by Toes is awesome . There are printable cards for many languages and sensitivities out there . Wheat is Harina de trigo , so sin harina de trigo , por favor . We bring a few of these cards and ask the waiter to give them to the cook . This is a handy tip for at home as well as busy waiters can forget one of your exclusions . Sometimes chicken or even fish can be cooked in Maggi (soya) sauce that can flare the gut with it's somewhat sneaky condensed wheat base . So sin Maggi , por favor . The food is simpler in Mexico and less processed than at home with less chance of bread crumb fillers in sausage and dairy hiding in salami and caramel colouring , maltodextrin , Xanthan gum and those sneaky kinds of traps that chefs may honestlty not know are present . Meats or fish cooked a la plancha or a la parilla or al carbon are less likely to be a problem for you . My wife brings a small well sealed bottle of olive oil as a salad dressing with always available limons in case of bottled dressing . Bacon and eggs is a good standby . Rum and tequila are gluten free . There is a canned tequila beverage called New Mixta that is gluten free in the grapefruit flavour as well . Luckily there is always tons of fresh fruit and vegetables and seafood in Mexico ! Guacamole is wonderful and healthy but usually comes with a sprinkle of cheese , so sin queso , por favor . We forget sometimes and I eat most of the contaminated guac . I like steak and she prefers chicken and I often eat her contaminated chicken while she eats my off the rack steak , ordered with no changes . Chefs can dress up your meal with some other forbidden ingredient because the meal looks so lame to them the way you need it . It strikes me that Mexicans are very practical people and if you turn down the expensive cheese ingredient they will be more than happy to increase your bean portion if you ask . Good luck and PM if you want to talk to the actual expert . Amaranth is often available in the area to bring home in a few forms including a snack cracker or cookie if I remember correctly . Please be happy always

9. Re: Food allergies

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