Not to startle you, but tree nut allergies have officially hit fever pitch, especially among kids. Experts conclude that allergic reactions to nuts have tripled in American kids, especially during the past few decades, meaning we -as parents- need to be as vigilant as ever.
And yes, revamping their lunchboxes is one way to deal with this issue, but what happens when it’s time to step foot into a foreign country where nuts are served almost daily, and you don’t know the language? Well, if Greece is next on your family’s bucket list, these are foolproof tips will keep you from going… nuts over nuts (pun intended!).
COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE!
If your child suffers from a nut allergy, it is imperative that you communicate ASAP. Kids Love Greece has prepared a template for an allergy card in Greek (Greek letters and phonetic). Contact us if you would like to get a copy of it.
Alternatively, you can order an “allergy language card” and an “emergency card” from a specialized site like: http://www.selectwisely.com/ . You can get that type of card in both English and Greek.
So, using this card you can inform the waiter and he / she will be able to suggest plates that are nut free or show you what to avoid.
Say No To Syrup-Drenched Pastries (Siropiasta)
If you’re a fan of the Mediterranean culture, you know that the Greek cuisine is home to some of the tastiest desserts, most of which involve large servings of phyllo soaked in syrup. Unfortunately, somewhere between all that syrupy goodness, lies a hefty dollop of candied nuts (such as pistachios, walnuts, and almonds) which are ready to put your kid in anaphylaxis mode.
Since no one wants that, make sure to stay away from such desserts, no matter what. And if you don’t know which ones we’re talking about, this quick list may come in handy: baklava, kadaifi, ekmek, galaktoboureko, saragli, and karidopita.
Watch Out For These Dips
By now you know that nuts and Greek desserts go hand in hand (well, in most cases). But, besides playing a huge role in pastry making, nuts are also found in several savory dishes where they dub as thickeners. That said, they’re part of many sauces and dips which makes them a big no-no for your allergic child because of the methods might be used in the manufacture. So, to keep your little one safe, stay away from spreads like taramosalata (that’s a pinkish fish-roe dip) and skordalia (this one is a yummy garlic, potato, bread mash-up).
Keep An Eye Out For The Salads
You’d think that salads are a safe choice for anyone trying to avoid tree nuts. And for the most part, they are, but Greeks tend to do things a bit differently in this department. That said, many Greek salads (and no, we’re not just talking about the tomato, cucumber, feta combo here) contain nuts such as walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, chestnuts, and almonds. In some cases, chefs go as far as to top their dishes with nut-based dressings instead of olive oil, so make sure you ask the waiter beforehand.
Check out if the cafeteria/ restaurant serves nuts
If you have a child who is allergic even to a trace of nut, you must be even more careful.
For example, there are kids who should not eat anything that has been cooked in the same pan as peanuts (or any other nuts), or even have been stirred with a spoon that has been used for a dish that contains nuts. If this is the case, you should definitely ask if the chef or waiter has touched nuts as he/she should not prepare or serve food for your child.
Also, be extra careful when you just stop for a drink as often a bowl crisps or nuts is being offered with drinks (at no cost). In that case, it is likely that the staff in those places have been in contact with nuts. Maybe it is a good idea to choose another cafe/bar. Better safe than sorry.
Have you traveled abroad with a nut-allergic kid before? We’d love to hear how you dealt with it in the comments down below!