Today’s guest blogger is Vera Badertscher from A Traveler’s Library. Vera is a freelance travel writer, so eating safely in other places is a topic she knows well! Please welcome her and say hello in a comment below.
Ever hesitate to travel to an exotic locale because you are afraid to eat the food?
I’m not talking about the fear of being served something icky like roasted scorpions. I’m talking about the fear that some beautiful and aromatic dish will contain peanut oil and you will go into anaphylactic shock. Or in my case a raw onion chopped into a salad may cause digestive system distress for days.
Having passed up some delicious-looking dishes in my day, I was so delighted to discover Select Wisely that I did a little happy dance around my computer.
Select Wisely publishes laminated Food and Health Translation Cards that explain your food allergies/intolerances or other medical problems in just about any language. To me, anything that encourages travel is a very good thing, and I believe these language cards remove a big barrier to travel. That is why you find me here doing a guest post on my friend Stephanie’s blog instead of hanging around with a stack of books over at A Traveler’s Library, my usual home.
While surviving restaurants, particularly buffets, is always a challenge, the problem seems impossibly difficult when I do not speak the language. Even when the friendly server speaks English (which is a fair bet in most touristed countries), the message I give them may get lost when between the table and the non-English-speaking chef.
When I talked to James Ahlberg at the Select Wisely, he asked me intelligent questions and he totally “got it.” He understood that I am able to eat onions if they have been cooked in a broth or stew or soup. Since in many cuisines, onions are automatically added to just about everything but the crème brulee, I jumped at the chance to review the cards. They just may rescue me from going through life eating plain boiled chicken breast with sauceless steamed veggies.
On one side the card pictures a large onion and a scallion with the universal circle with a slash indicating ‘NO.’ That side says “Does this food contain onions, chives, leeks, shallots or scallions?” The sentence is printed in both French and in English. The back side of the card explains further, “I am allergic to onions, chives, leeks, shallots and scallions except in soup, stew, or broth.”
Each order includes two laminated cards for around ten dollars. You can get the message by e-mail if you are in a hurry. They print other special medical alert cards, as well. One card asks for a seat in a non-smoking area, and a smoke-free room to sleep in.
Vera Marie Badertscher is a freelance travel writer and blogs at A Traveler’s Library. She is one of the Travel Insights 100. You can follow her on Twitter under @pen4hire.