I hope you’ve all read my previous post filled with restaurant and dessert recommendations in Rome. Definitely worth a visit!
Luckily for me, eating in Rome (and Italy in general) is pretty easy and my dietary restrictions aren’t so restrictive. But I do have some tips – hopefully I can share some wisdom about a range of dietary requirements.
I only had two real problems with nuts in Rome. The first, and really the most important problem, was my unfortunate, extremely dismal ability to part-take in (what many people would consider to be) the best part of every meal – dessert.
This really isn’t a Rome problem – it’s more of a global problem. Dessert just isn’t really that considerate of nut Allergians. I’m used to this though, so this wasn’t such a big disappointment. I did, however, get to enjoy a delicious crème brulee and some Lindt chocolate (see my post here), get to enjoy watching the BF try any and every delicious dessert imaginable (see my post here), and get to save on the calorie front. Really – it could be much worse.
Secondly, I faced a problem at the Vatican Museum. This was surprising really. After all that cultural and historical explosion that is the Vatican Museum, my friends, the BF and I were ready for a good feed. We went to the Vatican Museum food area, which kind of had a sort of canteen thang happening. It felt like a school cafeteria. Anyways, I asked the man behind the counter whether anything had nuts in it and, after checking, told me that I shouldn’t eat anything. I think there were lots of nuts used or something like that. While it is obviously pretty much impossible to find a kitchen that has zero nuts present, most places say something along the lines of ‘there may be traces present because our kitchen has nuts’. But when a place tells me not to eat their food, I will always listen. So that made things a little bit tricky, given we hadn’t finished the Museum. So I resorted to some packaged fruit salad and crisps, which seemed like the only safe options.
So just a warning to people with nut allergies going to the Vatican Museum – probably best to bring your own food. There also may have been a fancier restaurant somewhere in the museum – I’m not sure.
In Australia, whenever I order pasta of some kind, I ask for no cheese. This is because in Australia, pasta almost always comes served with parmesan cheese on top. And once your pasta has cheese on it, there is no way of getting it off. The melting and the stringing and the dispersing.. believe me – I’ve tried many a time.
But I quickly learnt in Italy that this whole cheese-on-top-of-the-pasta thing was an Australian (or international) invention, which did not originate in Italy. Sort of like the linguine thing (I didn’t find any linguine in Italy, so, again, this must be an international invention). So what would any ordinary person do… they would stop their silly request for “please no cheese on top”, because I had had enough funny looks from waiters [why is this extremely uncultured girl asking for no cheese on her pasta?].
But apparently the Italian status quo is a bit different in Rome. It was my second meal in Rome and I ordered pasta (with no cheese-less request). And what do you know – my pasta came out covered in cheese. It was quite unfortunate really. So I scraped it off as best I could (the melting… the stringing… the dispersing) and ate (what was left) around it.
What’s the moral of the story? Don’t be too embarrassed / think you are silly for asking questions relating to any of your dietary requirements or allergies. A funny look from a waiter is much better than only being able to eat ¼ of your food or, worse, a reaction of sorts.
My dietary restrictions only faced one real problem in Italy – pork. There is heaps of pork used in Italy (which I do not eat) and it often features in my fave spaghetti bolognese. This meant that I always checked what meat was used before I ordered something. I had one hilarious exchange with a restaurant hostess near the (under renovation) Trevi Fountain. She didn’t speak very good English. I asked her the standard question and she didn’t understand what I was saying. After a few attempts, I had to resort to basics. Keep it stupid simple, so they say. I pointed at the spaghetti bolognese on the menu, said “moo moo” or “oink oink” and, whilst lifting my shoulders, held my hands out in the typical inquisitive stance. It really was an all time low in language barriers. She responded with “moo moo” (laughing hysterically, of course) and I enjoyed my pork-free bolognese.
Finally, for those who are Kosher (which I am not), there are quite a few Kosher restaurants in the Roman ghetto. When I visited the area, I ate at Nonna Betta which is supposedly one of the best. I ordered tagliolini with ragu and “Grandma betta’s sauce” and it was delicious! For a list of some other restaurants in the Roman ghetto, see here.
So it’s safe to say that there is something for everyone in Rome, and Italy in general. You’ll almost always be able to find something you can eat, which is a nice change for us Allergians (* cue the last resort search for a McDonalds, as occurs in some countries). And if you can’t – there’s always Queen’s Chips Amsterdam where you can get a massive serve of hot chips in a cone with one of a variety of sauces dripping all over it (see my previous excitement about this here).
So that’s about all for Italy. Our next stop was the amazingly stunning Greek Islands! γιορτάζω!
Until next time…
The Allergian Abroad