Sunday, December 5, 2010

Teacher vs. Teacher

"What are you allergic to again, and what happens if you have something you are allergic to?" I heard the science teacher calling over to me as I was grabbing something out of my classroom, with all of my students sitting around her on the rug. "Don't worry about it.  We can talk later," I said as I left the room again. I was blown away by the fact that she was discussing my allergies with my students.

It all began when I walked into my classroom and saw cookies and frosting all over my desk.  In Italy there are no cookies that don't have nuts in them or are made with a mixed nut oil.  I didn't get upset with the science teacher, but I did ask her quietly away from my students, if she could please make sure to wash off my desk before leaving.  This same teacher I have blogged about before.  She is the only one at my school who has given me a difficult time about my allergies. This time though, when she was involving my kids, it infuriated me.

The science teacher continued on the rug with my students to discuss my allergies as I left.  At the end of the school day, I went back to my classroom to speak to her.  I said, "I don't want to scare my students, so I have only briefly mentioned my allergies.  Food is never in my classroom, so I don't ever even think about it.  If you are going to involve my students with food in my classroom, please inform me ahead of time.  Since this is my class and students, it is my decision how much I share with them.  They are young, and although I want them to be aware I have allergies, it is the beginning of the year, and I don't want to scare them.  This is a decision I have made for my students, and it is very irresponsible of you to discuss my health with my students.  Please don't do that again.  I am happy to reiterate my allergies to you and answer any questions you have, but my health is mine to deal with, and should not be discussed with my students."  She starred at me, then said with some serious attitude in her voice, "Yeah, okay." That was that. 

When I deal with people who are this self-focused and uncaring, it is challenging not to completely go off and lose my temper!  I know that will not express the correct message that I want to convey though, so instead I bite my tongue, take some deep breaths, count to ten, and try to rationalize a point of view so incredibly different than my own. 

This Year in Italy...

This is my second year living in Italy, and I am finding that this year is a significantly different experience for me as an Allergic Reactor. Between living alone, having no close friends return for another year, and trying to make new friends, I have had many interesting encounters and experiences.  

I am definitely enjoying my apartment this year.  It is my dream apartment with beautiful exposed wooden beams, stone, brick, and two balconies.  One of the best parts though is having a kitchen all to myself.  I have full control over what goes into it.  My roommate last year was amazing with my allergies, but it is still nice to not even have to think about it.  For an Allergic Reactor in her twenties, this is pretty spectacular!

Since I do work abroad, it is common for people to come and go from year to year.  This past year was an even larger turnover than is typical here, and none of my close friends from last year returned.  This has been one of the greatest challenges for me; trying to make new friends all over again and find people who are kind and understanding about my allergies.  Last year I was thankful to have such amazing friends here.  Everyone was so sweet and understanding about my allergies.  I always felt like people were supportive and aware.  This year is a different story though, and I am struggling to find that same feeling of caring and understanding among the new staff.

There have been quite a few experiences from this year so far with other teachers, that I am working on writing to share with my readers!  Coming soon!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back in Italy and Back to Blogging!

Dear Blog Readers and Supporters, 

I know I have been on a hiatus from this blog for a few busy months now, but I am back and will be updating weekly!  I have many stories and experiences to share and catch up on, and you should look forward to seeing these new posts soon!   

Thanks for your time and support,
Miss Allergic Reactor

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back to the U.S.

Here I am back in the U.S. again! I haven't been back in seven months, and I have noticed some food changes since I've been gone. For example, at Starbucks there used to be Madeline cookies that I could eat. They were the only possible eating option at Starbucks. Now the package says that they are manufactured near Almonds. Disappointing! :(

Have any favorite foods of yours or your child's changed recently?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

French Experiences!

On a recent family vacation to France, there were a few food encounters that I found interesting. I tried to write down my daily food encounters on the trip. Here are my notes:
The first night I arrived in Cannes with my family, we decided to go out for dinner. It was already pretty late, and not a lot of restaurants were still serving. We found a few places in the same area that were still serving pizza, so we chose one and sat down. The server came over and I handed him my list of allergies. He went back to the kitchen to find out if I could eat there. He came back and said that they used peanut oil in everything, and there was nothing there that I could eat. That decided it. We had to find another restaurant to eat at.
We walked down to a restaurant a few doors down. I showed them my card and they said that I wouldn’t have a problem because they used olive oil. They said it was common to use peanut oil in this area though, so that was important to discover. I was able to get pizza with no problem.
Sometimes it takes a bit of patience, but eventually you can usually find somewhere that will be able to serve you. In Italy I have had a lot of good luck eating out. Since food is such a significant part of the Italian culture, it seems extra important to people at restaurants to find something to eat that pleases you. With my allergies, people have been wonderful. I have had very few if any places turn me down. Everyone seems to want to help me find something good to eat.
My parents wanted to take my sister and I out for a nice dinner at a highly recommended, award-winning restaurant that was right in the neighborhood that we were staying. We dressed up and headed out to the restaurant. We had made a reservation the previous day to sit outside on the patio, and had checked on my allergies. They were very nice and said that it would be fine.
July 10, 2010
Today I had a frustrating experience. I went out to lunch in Nimes, France with my family. We sat down at a pizzeria and looked at the menu. I was considering a mixed salad and a small dish of pasta. When the server came over to take our orders, he looked at my list and said something in French about how he could not serve me and that I couldn’t eat. He was so incredibly rude and not like anyone I had recently encountered in Europe. When I asked if I could talk with the chef, he said that he was the chef, which clearly he was not! His bad attitude and unwillingness to help me, took me by surprise.
In contrast, for dinner last night, we walked up to a restaurant and Avignon to look at the menu and the server was extremely warm and friendly. I showed him my card. He looked at it carefully and then said that it wouldn’t be a problem. We sat down at a table and had wonderful service. No one laughed when they looked at my chef card.
July 11, 2010
For lunchtime today, we went a restaurant with a fabulous view of the ocher cliffs in the background. I showed the server my allergy card before sitting down. He looked at it, laughed, then showed it to another man who also had a smirk on his face. They told me there was no way I could eat there. Another rude experience. We did find another restaurant that would serve me though, and had no problem with my allergies.
Tonight we went out to a restaurant that was aesthetically pleasing, but had terrible food. It also broke my dad’s rule of the nicer the restaurant, the higher the risk, since this restaurant was not incredibly upscale, but used peanut oil in everything. We ended up getting plain green salads and steak, since they didn’t need to use oil for either one. The steak was chewy, and I found a bug in my salad. The best part of the meal was the wine we got, a rose wine called Tavel, which is fantastic.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Traveling with Food Allergies

As I stand in the airport store, not one package is recognizable to me. My flight has been delayed ten hours, and I am stranded at the Rome airport ill prepared with nothing to eat. I scour the few shelves of packaged food and find nothing. They have no fresh food, and I end up with a Coke, water, and a sad looking apple with bruises and bumps included for a hefty price of almost 10 euros. This is not a good beginning to a trip as I quickly learn, and after this experience, I find myself more and more prepared as I continue my weekend and weeklong travels over the course of the year.

I have always been a traveler. I’ve had many opportunities to strategize and perfect the art of traveling with anaphylactic allergies. I’ve lived and traveled in both English speaking and non-English speaking countries. I have learned how to accommodate for what I may or may not find to eat, wherever I may go.

Since living in Italy this past year, I’ve become even better at deciding what I must do before leaving my apartment for a trip. I know exactly what to pack and how to pack it. I know what food will last and for how long. It is a matter of being prepared I have found.

Checklist for Travel:
o Pack extra of all medicines (especially Benedryl and Epinephrine)
o If overseas, make sure to carry a doctors note stating that you need all of your medications, giving you permission, incase you are stopped at the airport
o If flying, call ahead to ask for a peanut free flight
o Pack hand wipes to clean hands before eating and to wash off the seat on the plane.
o Pack snacks to get through the travel period
o Pack multiple copies of your Chef Card

Part of traveling is never knowing exactly what will happen. For Allergic Reactors like myself, this can pose as a very tricky situation. No matter how prepared, there have been many times where I have not been as prepared as I believed that I was. Sometimes I feel like I can be overcautious with what I pack and the amounts to which I pack (mostly medicine and food), but more often than not, is better to be over prepared than under.

I also don’t like to limit my travel experiences. I try to go where interests me, and figure how to go about getting there and staying there safely. When I was living on the east coast of Australia, I decided to do some traveling to the Whitsunday Islands over a holiday. My friend and I booked a three night, four day excursion sailing around magnificent islands. It was an incredible experience sailing and visiting mostly uninhabited beaches for those days. It was also a bit nerve racking for me with my allergies. I brought some food, but it was a fairly small boat, and only about ten of us on board. The cook on the boat was happy to keep my food for me, and to tell me every ingredient without fail. He was very careful with cross contamination, and seemed to understand any concerns I had. It was not an easy experience for me though. Every time it came to eating, I was a bit more tense, but it was an outstanding trip, which I can’t imagine having missed because of my allergies.

Whenever I go hiking, I feel that same tenseness. Sometimes it is easy to let your mind wander to “What if…” scenarios. “What if I have an allergic reaction on top of this mountain and no one can help me and my epi runs out and I die.” In reality, I am just as safe, if not safer than the average person going hiking. You could fall and break your leg or get a snakebite and be in danger too. If someone has an allergic reaction, and doesn’t know they are allergic, they won’t have epinephrine. I carry multiple epi pens, I bring my own water and food and hand wipes. I am careful, but I can enjoy myself.

No matter where you go or what you do, there is always some risk attached. As an Allergic Reactor, the best way to avoid as much risk as possible when traveling, is to come prepared.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All By Myself

There is a time when every parent has to let go, and allow their child to go out on their own. A few days ago I went out on my own without any friend or roommate. I was craving some gelato on a beautiful, warm and sunny day, with no friends around.

I walked down to my neighborhood gelateria. I gave the woman my allergy card and then explained in Italian and hand motions to wash the scoop. I wasn't sure about the word for 'under' in Italian, to explain to scoop from underneath to make sure there is no cross-contamination. When I went for a run that morning, I remembered noticing a sign for an underpass, and hoped I had understood the sign correctly. "Sotto" I said, hoping it meant under. I was correct!

I successfully bought my second gelato all by myself! :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Day Trip, Another Experience

I spent the day in Austria on Sunday. As awesome as it is to say that I can spend the day there, it is also just as difficult to deal with another countries language and food differences. Of course, as always, I packed myself a mini-picnic of snacks. I did not anticipate eating anything there, since I didn't have a way to print out a copy of my German chef card (and the decision to go was made about an hour before leaving). I made sure my meds were in my bag, then headed out to meet my friends in the car to drive to Austria.

The drive only took us two hours out of our dirty, air-polluted city, and into some fresh Austrian air! There was a considerable difference when we opened our doors and breathed in fresh, breathable, healthy lung, smoke free air. It was amazing!

The air in my Italian city has been really bothering my environmental allergies and asthma lately. I am an avid runner, and when I go out for my run in the city, I can feel my lungs just trying to find fresh air to breathe. It is terrible!

Something that really stood out to me, was that I didn't see anyone smoking! Where I live, it is more difficult to find a person that isn't smoking, than that is!

Even as we walked by cafes, I didn't have to pass through any clouds of smoke!

When my friends were finally hungry, we found a restaurant for dinner. All I ordered was a drink, but I didn't mind because I had been snacking all day!

Even with a spontaneous day trip outside the country that I live, I can still figure out ways to make my allergies work, and not stop me from doing what I want!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Out to dinner!

Last night I went out to dinner at a restaurant called Rosso Pomodoro (Red Tomato) for one of my friend's birthdays. I had been to the restaurant once before when it was extremely busy. That night they were afraid of cross contamination, so they told me I could order this massive ball of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. It was good (one of my favorite salads), but it was expensive, and not what I was in the mood for, especially when I heard the pizza was excellent there!

The restaurant is actually a chain in Italy, kind of like Olive Garden in the U.S., except classier, with real, fresh Italian food. I was hoping that when I went back this time, they would be able to figure out pizza or pasta for me. I found out though, when I tried to order pizza last night, that they use vegatale olio, which is not okay in Italy for people with nut allergies. The vegtable oil here, sometimes has nut oils in it, so you can never tell if it is okay or not, which is why I always have to avoid it.

I ended up getting a salad with chicken breast in it, which was good, but double the price of the pizza, and not what I wanted. This hasn't happened too often though, so now I know I just can't get pizza or pasta there! Lesson learned.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Severe Allergies Are A Disability?

I just finished reading this article on about a school that banned all nut products. The school has already taken precautions of 'nut free classrooms and lunch tables.' I am curious to know what parents think about this?

The ban was very controversial in the article. One parent believed that she was speaking for the majority by asking why her child couldn't bring a peanut butter sandwich to school. Others also agreed that it gives a false sense of security, because ensuring that it is nut free is impossible. I agree with this. I think it certainly does give people a false sense of security. No where will you find a definitely 100 percent guarantee that a place is allergen free. I think it takes away the responsibility from the child, and helps them to believe that in life they will always be in environments where no allergens exist.

Since I have always been the minority, having allergies since I was a baby, and not knowing anyone else with them, I was never raised in an environment with this false sense of security. If my children some day have allergies, I will also want to raise them in an environment where there is no false sense of security, and where they must learn to take responsibility. It is truly up to the parents to empower their children to learn how to take responsibility for themselves. If parents do that, then no matter where their child is, they will be safer knowing how to keep themselves safe, and by knowing what they need to do. Whereas if children are raised thinking they are always safe when they are not, and are not shown how to take care of themselves, then how will they be able to go out in the world one day on their own? Parents can not always be by their child's side every step of the way. They also need to learn to let go.

Educating people about allergies is important, and taking precautions is certainly significant. I think which precautions are taken is what is most important. Education is really the key to helping your child. It is the way to empower them!

One of the woman that was quoted in the article, also commented after another woman commented, how that woman in the article didn't understand. The woman in the article commented back saying, "I learned so much about these disabled kids and the lives they have to live. But I am just a normal person with normal kids, so it took a little bit of time." I have to admit I was extremely offended by this woman. Normal? Am I not 'normal' because I have allergies? These kids are 'disabled?' It doesn't sound like she has learned much since! She is someone who truly needs to be educated about allergies!

When I read this article, I was truly startled by the word 'disability.' I don't feel like I have a disability. Sure, I have something that I have had to learn to cope with, but never once have I felt like I am disabled in some way. I feel very lucky for what I can eat and do. I would never say that I have a disability though! I just don't think that is the right word, because I can still do everything I want to do for the most part. I don't feel any inhibition to do anything. I travel, I live in other countries, I work, I live a 'normal' life. Yes, I can't eat anything I see, but I don't feel disabled by that. Certainly I feel disappointed sometimes, but not disabled, because I know how to take care of myself, and I was given the tools that empowered me to believe that I can do what I want to do, allergies or not!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Travels to Edinburgh and beyond!

Last week was school vacation (here they call it 'holiday'), so I went traveling. I met my roommate, her sister, and her best friend in Edinburgh, Scotland for the beginning of the week. It felt so nice to travel to a country where I spoke the language fluently! Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that dealing with my food allergies would be any easier!

When I arrived in Edinburgh, it was around dinner time. My roommate and friends arrived a few hours earlier, so I went to the apartment that we were staying in to leave my bag. Afterward, we met for dinner at a pub. I had my English chef card to use, which was nice, since I am used to trying to communicate in Italian. I was able to get a chicken breast sandwich, which was delicious!

The owner of the apartment that we were staying in, stocked the refrigerator with food. There was plenty for me to eat, which was amazing! There was fresh cheeses, fruits, yogurt, and cereal. It made everything that much easier, since I had no time to find a grocery store before our tour through Scotland the next morning. Of course I did pack some food, which always help, but having all those fresh foods that I was able to eat, was truly exceptional.

My friends and I had an exquisite day seeing the Scottish countryside. We went on a small tour bus, with only 15 people in total. It made it a nice and personal experience. We made quite a few stops along the way. Around lunch time, we stopped by Lochness to get lunch. Of course I had packed food, but my friends hadn't, so we went and sat in a pub for lunch. As we were sitting at the table, I noticed all the packets of condiments.


Holding the condiments with some attitude!

I have never found condiments that "contained" or "may contain" every single allergen that I can think of! It was crazy! It seemed like the company that made the condiments was saying, "we are not responsible for anything in our products, so don't even think about trying them!"

When I see packages like that, it makes me feel very frustrated, because I am sure it probably does not contain or even has the likelihood of containing some of those allergens, but we live in a world so scared by lawsuits, that they feel they need to literally put every single allergen on their ingredient list to avoid any potential issues. Crazy!

In Scotland, one of the main products they sell is shortbread cookies. Of course, although there are only a few basic ingredients in them, like sugar and butter, they are "not suitable for nut allergy sufferers." Apparently I "suffer" from nut allergies.

Shortbread cookies

Besides the minor packaged ingredient warnings, I didn't come across any other difficulties or disappointments in Scotland. Back in Edinburgh, my friends left two days before me, so I found a quaint bed and breakfast to stay at. The people were friendly and helpful, and were happy to accommodate my allergies for breakfast in the morning. I took myself out to dinner and drinks, and had a lovely time exploring the city! I also found Ben & Jerry's ice cream that I could eat! It was my first ice cream in months, so that was the perfect way to end my evening!

After Scotland, I took a train to Leeds to see one of my best friends who is from there. Before I left, my friend, Gemma, had sent me an e-mail checking to see if there was anything in particular I wanted for food, and letting me know that she had cleared all allergens out of her apartment. I thought that it was so sweet of her to remember and think of that before my arrival! I'm lucky to have such caring friends!

We went out to eat with no problems, and had a wonderful time visiting. On the weekend we went to see another close mutual friend and his girlfriend who live in Manchester. They also had e-mailed before I was coming, asking the same questions and making sure I would be completely comfortable. How lucky am I to have these people in my life who are so aware, yet never make it such a massive deal?!

During the day, we went out to lunch with no problem! I had delicious raviolis at an up scale Italian restaurant. My friend, Alex, his girlfriend, Babs, Gemma, and I wandered around Manchester for the afternoon. Babs had a free hand massage from buying products over the holidays, and booked for the three girls to go get one. Of course all of the products ended up having sweet almond oil in them, so I sat and watched. They felt bad, but it was okay, although of course I wish I also could have participated!

Babs, Me, Gemma

Later that evening, after having a drink at an awesome, neighborhood pub near their amazingly beautiful apartment, we went back to have dinner. Babs insisted on making it all by herself, and did an excellent job making risotto! She was so sweet about my allergies, and I didn't once feel worried about eating there! It was a fabulous way to end an amazing holiday!

Babs with her awesome Risotto.

Trips like this make me realize a few things. One, is how much easier it is to communicate in my native language, and how at home I take that for granted when ordering out! I also realize how lucky I am to have friends who are so understanding and caring, and although we only see each other every few years, still remember about my allergies, and don't treat me any different because of them! Thank you, friends! :)

My First Gelato!!!!

Last night we decided to have a girls night in. My friends wanted to get gelato down the street before watching a movie, so we walked down to our neighborhood gelatoria. It was the first warm night since the fall. As we walked in, I observed the gelato behind the glass cases. I noticed that all the chocolate and nut flavors were on one side of the case, and all the fruit flavors were separated on the opposite side.

Since moving to Italy, every day I seem to have some new experience where I learn something and continue to get more comfortable living here. Earlier that day, I had used my broken Italian to communicate with people at one of the rowing clubs, about possibly joining the club (I was a rower all through college on a Division 1 team, and nothing beats being out on the water), and had conquered more fears by reading signs to take unknown buses home. After all of that I was happily aware of the fact that I was comfortable here finally. I finally didn't feel like a tourist. I felt like someone who actually lived here!

With already having conquered so many things in one day, I figured why not try one more! I had told myself that I would try the fruit flavored gelato, when I was finally comfortable here, so last night was the night!

I showed the woman behind the counter my Chef card, and with help from my friends, we explained that she needed to clean the gelato scoop, then scoop my lemon flavored gelato from the bottom of the container. She somehow understood us, and was very nice about it!!!

The best part to me was not only finally trying gelato for the first time ever, but also how happy my friends were for me (especially Abby, my roommate), that I finally was able to try gelato! There have been endless times where I have watched them all eat it, but now I was finally having some too!!!! Wooohooo!

Big Smile! :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

New website that could be helpful

I came across a new website that could be helpful. The website is: The site has just started up, but if people start to use it, I think it has the potential to be very beneficial. The website posts ratings for restaurants all over the United States, based on how allergy-friendly they are. So far, there are not too many that have been rated. Maybe in a few more months though, it will be more helpful and informative!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Venice Carnivale- I ran into a nut!

As we stepped off the train in Venice, the energy and excitement of the day consumed us! My friends and I had decided to go spend the day checking out the festivities for Carnivale. We had no idea what to anticipate!

There were costumes, masks, face painting, and of course, food. I have now been to Venice many times, so I know that it is difficult to find food there that I can easily eat, especially reasonably priced food. I packed my bag with snacks and food to eat for lunch.

As we were standing in the crowd, watching all the festivities, I saw a person dressed as a peanut! Of course, I had to take a picture (although, the woman wearing the costume, had no idea)! I am not sure what the "S" stands for. My guess is "Super Peanut," but I am not sure how Italian that is! :) Anyone have any ideas?

I wanted to share this, because I was first of all surprised by the costume, but mostly because I think it is important to realize that no matter where I am, I never know what I will come across! This means, that no matter where, I should always be prepared, and aware, but that I also know how to keep myself safe. I could point to the woman in the peanut costume and take a picture, but I certainly wouldn't go over and shake her hand!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back to reality

Last week I was thrown back into the reality of my allergies, as my lip became a bit red and itchy after lunch. There were no hives, I could breathe, and it was only noticeable to me, but sometimes both as an allergic reactor, and as a parent, it is easy to become more relaxed, after not having a reaction for a long time. I do feel like I am always very vigilant and careful, but every now and then I have my eye-opening reminder moments, to bring my back to the severity.

I have talked to parents before about this same problem. When I was interviewing parents for a project that I was working on, I remember one specific discussion. The mom of a son with anaphylactic allergies said, "After a while, if he hasn't had an allergy, I get a bit complacent because it seems so crazy that his allergies can be life-threatening when there hasn't been a reaction. We haven't had a reaction in a while, and I have to make sure that I am always aware, but when he hasn't reacted in such a long time, I start to think that maybe he is outgrowing his allergies."

What are your thoughts on this? I am curious to know if other parents can relate to this feeling! I look forward to your comments

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Magestic Verona- Eating out and about!

Known for its pasta dishes, the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and summer Operas in the Arena, Verona is a fabulous place to spend a weekend!

My roommate, another friend, and I, spent this past weekend exploring the city! Since we were staying in Italy traveling, I figured I would definitely be able to find something I could eat. I packed food for the train, and a little extra for breakfast the next day, but left all other meals to be discovered in this new destination.

After we arrived, dropped our bags at the hotel, and walked into the city, it was already early afternoon. I had a few rice cakes and an apple that I brought in my bag. We spent the rest of the day exploring the Castello, checking out the views from the top of the tallest tower, pretending we were gladiators in the Arena, and experiencing the many other beautiful sites of the city. Around 7 p.m. we were finally hungry and ready to find somewhere for dinner!

We stumbled upon a rustic looking restaurant that was very busy, but luckily had just enough room for the three of us to sit down at a table. Since I recently had been having a difficult time finding pizza or pasta to eat in the city I live in, I decided to ask the waiter first thing, if I could eat there. He looked at my Chef card and said he would be right back. He came back and said that I couldn't have the pizza because they use a mixed oil (In Italy, the vegetable oil is often a mixture of oils, including nut oils), so I asked what I could eat, like pasta. He walked away to check and came back to tell me that pasta with pomodoro (tomato) sauce would be "Va bene." I ended up getting that, and it was exquisite for such a plain dish normally! I asked for some basil and parmesean cheese on top of the pasta, and it was truly delicious! No wonder they are known for their pasta dishes! They can even make pasta with pomodoro taste amazing!

The rest of the weekend also worked out well. We were leaving the following day, so all I needed was breakfast and lunch. The breakfast at the hotel was ten Euro for very few things I could actually eat. We decided to go find an open grocery store on our walk in to the city, so I could find something to eat. We were luckily able to find one. I found a chunk of cheese, some bread sticks, and fruit to snack on for the rest of the day. It worked out really well. It was all I needed to get through the day.

Verona was another phenomenal allergy and worry free trip!

My roommate and I. She ate delicious looking pizza!

Pasta dinner in Verona!

Chocolate Fountain. I WISH I could eat this! Mmmm!

Monday, January 25, 2010

To me the hardest part...

"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!

Abby trying sweets at a outdoor market.

The most difficult part of living abroad with food allergies, has been missing out on trying all the awesome looking foods and desserts! I definitely have a sweet tooth, so passing on such delectable treats is difficult! Even more than all of the beautiful desserts though, there is one type of sweet that I am always missing here! ICE CREAM! Here it is called 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 try to see if there are any fruit flavors I can try. There is a lot of cross contamination, 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 other side. My goal is to be able to explain to her 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!

Abby and my other friend, Jess, with chocolate gelato on their face!

Now that I have been living here for five months, reading ingredients in Italian has been so much easier! I don't 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, then double check with my dictionary when I get home. I 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!

My dictionary and I in the first few months of living here.

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 make 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.

Baking an apple pie

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, and can't have any. Besides that though, it is going well!