Paris for the dairy free

Old Aug 15th, 2001, 06:28 AM
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Paris for the dairy free

First, thanks to everyone for input on hotels. Now that I've settled on that, I'm wondering if anyone has advice on surviving Parisian restaurants in spite of a severe dairy allergy. I know a little French, but not enough to be certain that I won't get traces of milk, cream, cheese, or butter in my food. Any recommendations for restaurants that cater to food allergies would be appreciated.

Are certain ethnic restaurants in Paris (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Middle Eastern) similar to ones in the U.S. in that they tend to cook without dairy (with the exception of yogurt in Indian foods)? Or am I making an ignorant American assumption? (I know ethnic food in the U.S. can be quite different from its counterparts in other countries.)

I've managed to survive many trips to Europe, but no matter how careful I am, I always seem to get sick once.
Old Aug 15th, 2001, 06:57 AM
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I have an allergy too and know how to request a meal that contains no possibility of a problem BEFORE I go to the country of choice. You most certainly need to know how to say these basic phrases before you go or you are flirting with danger. If a good phrase book doesn't help, try French lessons or even a translation service: although most Parsiens speak passable "tourist" English, you are dealing with a situation where a mistake is not merely the stuff that makes for a good anecdote! 'Ethnic' food could be the answer in part, but what a shame to miss out on the essence of Paris. You might want to scour good French cookbooks in advance (Simone Beck-Julia Child-Jacques Pepin) to see which of the great dishes are dairy-free so that you can order with confidence when you see them on a menu or posted in a Bistro. A tip: as dairy products, especially great cheeses are expensive, you may find your dream meals in less pricey places.
Old Aug 15th, 2001, 07:04 AM
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Yes, Asian food is "dairy free".

Salads and vegetables and fish are abundant. Roasted meats might be a problem, as they are often basted in butter. Even sauces that look clear are often finished with butter.

You're going to be walking through a minefield; if your allergy is that severe, stick with Asian and vegetarian restaurants. You can't trust that the negative answer to the question "is there butter in this?" will be accurate. Even sandwiches have butter spread on the baguette.
Old Aug 15th, 2001, 07:14 AM
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I'm not sure whether dairy free corresponds exactly to vegetarian but I would think it would be easier to find dairy free meals in a vegetarian restaurant, so check this site for several in Paris. It's in French but I'm sure you can figure it out. If you click on "consulter la fiche" you get more info and "Plan d'acces" shows you a map of the retaurant's location.

As a follow-up to Joan's suggestion, learn how to say (or simply write on a piece of paper) "Je suis allergique aux produits laitiers." (Juh swee ah-lehr-jeek oh pro-dwee lay-tyay. More or less!) Good luck and I hope you have a great trip!
Old Aug 15th, 2001, 07:22 AM
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As for our big restaurant splurges, perhaps I will arrange in advance for a dairy free meal. I have done so with outstanding restaurants in the U.S., and the chef often seems to like the challenge.

Great idea about checking French cookbooks for dairy-free recipes! Thanks so much for that advice.

I love fish and salads, so that's more good advice. As for the mine fields and the butter sauces, fortunately, I seem to be able to manage small amounts of butter--like the amount spread on a sandwich. Cheese (which I don't like anyway), milk, and cream are the worst triggers. Maybe I'll just make sure my hotel has a nice, large, comfortable bathroom!

Again, I appreciate all responses and restaurant recommendations.
Old Aug 15th, 2001, 08:30 AM
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You might want to look into Alain Ducasse's restaurant
"Spoon...". It has a mix and match menu, in which you choose the
dishes along with various side dishes
condiments, and sauces. Most dishes
have an Asian influence. The dishes seemed to be described in a fair amount of detail. A lot of vegetarian options as well. The wait staff definitely speaks English as they get a lot of American guests. It is not cheap, I seem to recall it was about
$75 pp with wine. Not my all-time favorite place, but very trendy
and enjoyable. Don't go too early.
Old Aug 15th, 2001, 12:06 PM
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I would support Betty's advice about bringing a paper with you explaining the situation. However, my former girlfriend has a severe allergy (to eggs) and I noticed that sometimes allergies aren't taken very seriously by waiters. When you use this word, they would assume you'll have a pimple on the nose on the following day, not that you'll end up at the hospital.

If it's the case, I would make it very clear. For instance you could write "Je suis GRAVEMENT allergique aux produits laitiers. Je ne dois manger aucun plat contenant du lait, de la creme, du fromage ou du beurre, meme en petite quantite. Merci de me suggerer des plats qui n'en contiennent pas et ne sont pas cuits au beurre" (I'm SERIOUSLY allergic to diary products. I can't eat any dish containing milk, cream, cheese or butter, even in small quantity. Thanks for suggesting dishes which don't contain them and aren't cooked with butter"

It's quite complicated, but better safe than sorry (speaking from experience).

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