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For the past few years I have been based in India. A country where until very recently, the concept of gluten free has been dismissed as some unusual fabrication from the west.

I have lost count of the times that I have been told that “it’s all in your mind” and “don’t worry it doesn’t have wheat in it, I put bread crumbs instead”. Things are changing slowly but I have grown used to the fact that when I eat out, I have to be very careful and can forget about having any dessert.

My wife and I had planned a lengthy trip to Europe and before going I was a little nervous about how I would manage to explain my gluten and lactose intolerance to restaurant staff in another language.

It turned out that I had nothing to worry about!

Language never turned out to be an issue, Europeans being incredibly multilingual making me feel very inadequate with my single language of English.

However what surprised and delighted me the most was that the European Union enacted a law in December 2014  that requires restaurants to label their menus with the allergens that each dish contains.

Menus now have a guide to allergens and then beside each dish are the letters pertaining to the allergens as listed in the key.

The 14 foods currently included in the European Union Food Allergen List  are:

Milk

Egg

Cereals Containing Gluten (wheat, rye and barley)

Fish

Crustaceans

Mollusks

Tree Nuts

Soy (soya)

Peanuts

Sesame

Lupin

Mustard

Celery

Sulfur Dioxide (Sulfites)

So it was easily to select a dish and see whether it contained gluten or lactose or any number of other allergens, some of which I never knew were allergens but certainly happy that I don’t suffer from. Celery for example!

The picture I took below is of a menu in German, although a lot of restaurants have English menus as well. But once you have seen one you just need to remember the letter for your allergen. For example if you have an allergy to gluten you remember the letter A and if you have an allergy to dairy products then you remember the letter G.

German Food Allergen Guide

Both of the desserts below for example contain milk and nuts.

Guide to Food Allergy

Even better were the fabulous Cafes in Vienna with their delicious coffees and incredible pastries. Every Cafe I visited had at least one gluten free or dairy free pastry.

Gluten Free Chocolate Mousse Cake
A Gluten Free Chocolate Mousse at Vienna’s famous Cafe Sacher
Gluten Free Fragilité, at Vienna's Café Demel
Gluten Free Fragilité, at Vienna’s Café Demel

It’s safe to say in the span of one month I ate enough cakes and pastries to make up for all the years I have spent in India!

Cafe Central Budapest
The famous Cafe Central in Budapest once a favourite meeting place for Hungarian writers
Cafe Central Interior
Cafe Central Interior

 

Gluten Free Hungarian Poppy Seed Cake
Gluten Free Hungarian Poppy Seed Cake

 

Don’t forget to visit my Author Page on Amazon to check out my Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-Free Dessert Cookbooks

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