going to Italy - allergic to shrimp

Mar 17th, 2005, 10:09 AM
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going to Italy - allergic to shrimp

Hopefully someone can help me on this. I recently developed a allergy to shrimp and other shellfish (it is a real drag!). I need to learn the Italian words for shrimp, lobster and crab. What I know already is shrimp is gambero or gamberetti; lobster is aragosta; and crab is granchio. Are there other equivalent words that I am missing? Thanks so much!
cls2paris is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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I saw this posted earlier this week:


Kelbert is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Why don't you find an Italian food glossary? We always take one to France and I would think there would be one for Italy.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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I think the word you need is "crostacei" - crustaceans. (I take it you aren't allergic to oysters, clams, etc.)
jahoulih is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 10:28 AM
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Wow, this happened to my Dad, he developed an allergy to shrimp in his 40's but found that if he squeezed lemon on the shrimp or sucked on a slice after eating that he was fine.

Total drag - hope you have a good vacation.
alya is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 11:07 AM
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Thanks so much for the fast replies. I should have mentioned that I do have a really good menu translation book that I am taking but wanted to be sure that I had all bases covered. Kelbert - that site looks awesome! Yes, this came on in my 40's after eating shrimp my whole life, one of my favorite foods! I am very thankful that I went to Maine already in my life so I could experience fresh lobster everyday...
cls2paris is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 11:43 AM
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cls2paris, I have food allergies too so I sure understand. An idea I have read many times is to write out what you cannot eat because of your allergy problem, perhaps about 4 cards and take them to Kinko's and have them laminated. The waiter can even take it back to the chef/cook if necessary.

I had a friend from the area of Venice that has eaten all kinds of seafood all his life.

He arrived in SFO. We took him to a restaurant in SF on the way home. He was tired, jetlagged etc. I ordered crab cakes so he did to as he was to tired to "think" what he wanted and knew he and I loved the same food.

About six bites into the crabcakes his tongue and throat started swelling up!
He too has never been able to eat any shellfish again (although he can eat fish). That is such a scary experience.

So take care, and know there are so many foods you will be able to eat you will have a wonderful time.
LoveItaly is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 11:59 AM
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Be sure to have your epipen just in case! I really don't think there's much risk of cross-contamination in Rome, however...just an extra precaution. Most phrase books tell you how to say "I am allergic to..."
peggi is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 02:35 PM
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Many people are allergic to shellfish, and a true allergy will not be helped by lemon juice or any other thing. Please don't try that!

Make a laminated card like the above reader suggested, write it in all the languages to be used on your trip, and English. Hand it to your waiter and ask him/her to show it to the chef/cook. The chef will know to cook your stuff in a fresh pan and not to use fish stock made with lobster or crab shells for any sauce.

The reason I suggested also writing it in English is that you should carry one card in your wallet or passport. This allergy needs to be reported to medical personnel as you will require premedication if you need to have any procedures done with iodine or dye, and certain medications avoided. If the card is in English and the language of the country you are in any medical personnel will be able to read it at any stage of your trip.

Do take an Epipen and a few Benadryl with you just in case.

My allergy card is in my wallet and is written in English, Spanish, French, and German. Anywhere in the world, a nurse or doctor reading that card will likely be able to understand it.

Enjoy Italy. You can always make up for no shrimp by eating lots of gelato lol.
mowmow is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 02:42 PM
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In cases like this (important dietary restrictions) I think the suggestion to have it printed on a laminated card is the best, by far.

Unless you speak fluent Italian and are confident to be understood by waiters, it's not something I'd want to take a chance with.
suze is online now  
Mar 17th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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I am allergic to shrimp( it started around age 40 also!) and probably other shellfish, and I have been to Italy many times with no problem. I just order chicken, beef, pork, various kinds of pasta, etc. I have learned the Italian food words and just don't order anything with shrimp. I do carry my epipen and antihistamines with me everywhere and fortunately have never needed to use it.

The only place in Europe that I had a problem was in Holland at an Indonesian restaurant. We wanted to order a rice table and carefully consulted with the waiter so none of the dishes would contain shrimp. While we were waiting for the meal, our waiter brought our drinks and some crackers to nibble on. I ate one and then thought, " What an odd flavor." Then it hit me that it was shrimp flavored, so I quickly took antihistamines and was able to stay in the restaurant and finish my meal. That night I had some allergic symptoms but nothing like the swelling of my original allergic episode.

So I try to be alert to all the foods I eat, but I seem to be in more danger here in the US at potluck dinners, Cajun restaurants where everything on the menu may have shrimp sauce on it, or with unidentifiable dip and chips than I am in Europe.
Sally is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 02:51 PM
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I'm not technically allergic, but I have a very strong physical aversion (i.e., instant nausea) to fish and seafood. Unlike some Asian cuisines, where fish sauce, shrimp powder, and the like turn up all over unexpectedly, Italian food usually contains what you'd expect from the menu. However, do watch out for the little snacks laid on at wine bars or with aperitives.
KT is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 02:59 PM
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Thanks so much! I'm making my cards right now. BTW - they are for sale on the site that Kelbert mentioned for 8.95 and $9.95 but I think I'll save the money. I appreciate all the help! I'm not very worried about finding good (non-shrimp type) food in Italy!
cls2paris is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 04:15 PM
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My only suggestion is to make sure you have the entire category covered if needed:

What about langoustines?


nytraveler is offline  
Mar 17th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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'allergy' was probably the wrong word to use, perhaps 'reaction' would be better. Either way he would get large red blotches on his face and body and I don't remember how he discovered that lemon would counteract the reaction.
It only ever happened with shrimp no other seafood but then again I react to hamsters (unbearably itchy, swollen red eyes) but not gerbils, Go figure! You'd think one small furry rodent would be the same as another!
alya is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 08:12 PM
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I just read another allergy question here and thought it might be helpful to post what I had written on the card I showed the waiters in Italy. Hope this helps someone else.


Sono gravemente allergica ai crostacei (aragosta, gambero, molluschi, mitili, granchio, ostriche, ecc.).

Si tratta di una condizione medica molto seria. Potrei morire dopo aver ingerito questo tipo di cibo, cibo preparato con utensili che hanno toccato crostacei, cibo con olio di crostacei, estratti, brodi, ecc. E’ importante ricordare che questo ingrediente potrebbe essere presente anche nei cibi comprati gia’ fatti.

Se mangio crostacei o qualunque cibo che è stato cucinato con crostacei o che ha toccato crostacei, avrò bisogno dell'attenzione immediata medica.

La prego gentilmente di non darmi cibo che potrebbe contenere o che ha toccato crostacei.

If you have an attack:
AIUTO! Sto avendo una crisa di shock anafilattico. Per favore, chiamate subito un’ambulanza

cls2paris is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 08:42 PM
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I too am headed to France, Italy and Austria this summer. My allergy is to goat cheese though. I love the card idea. I'll check my books for the correct phrases.

I learned the extent of my allergy (hives!) by eating lasagna in Italy many summers ago. Does anyone know off hand any dishes I should avoid all together?
moldyhotelsaregross is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 08:43 PM
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cls2paris, how nice of you to post back.

Question; what were the reactions of the waiters when you handed them the card. I am going to take one with me the next time I go to Italy (I will have my Italian SIL write it out) so I was curious. I imagine it certainly got their attention.
LoveItaly is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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LoveItaly - the waiters were very nice about it. I only had to use twice and I was pretty certain that the food I wanted to order would be ok - I just gave them the card, waited for him to read it, ordered what I wanted and asked "Bene?". I had a menu translator and was pretty sure I was ok but, I wanted to be careful. One night it was very sad, the seafood grill features a lobster and huge prawns and it looked so good.
cls2paris is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 08:14 AM
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LoveItaly - forgot to mention that the card says something like:
I am allergic to shellfish - shrimp, prawns, lobster, crab.... I cannot eat shellfish or food that is prepared in the same pan as shellfish. If I eat shellfish I will need medical attention and I may die in restaurant. The second part just says to call an ambulance and say I am in analphalactic (sp) shock.

I knew the chances of dying in the restuarant were not too high but the reading I did on this suggested that it be said. Who knows what was prepared in a pan before my chicken or steak was and it is not worth taking a chance.
Have fun, there were many choices so it was easy to avoid these bad foods. (I don't know if you can tell that I am having trouble adjusting to this new allergy! Lobster and shrimp were two of my favorite foods...).
cls2paris is offline  

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