The Camino de Santiago is for many a life-changing experience that takes you out of your comfort zone: you are in a foreign land where they speak a different language… and they eat differently too!
It can be a wonderful opportunity to try new foods and discover new flavours that you may later try to recreate at home. But if you have any food allergies, it can be very stressful not knowing whether you can get the right food, or not being sure whether something is safe for you to eat.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post with tips and Spanish for veganos and vegetarianos who wish to do the Camino de Santiago. I know it’s not the same; if you suffer from food allergies, accidentally eating the wrong food can be life-threatening or it can make you very sick. But still, most of the tips and vocabulary I shared in that post can be used in case of alergia or intolerancia.
Shopping for food
If you decide to buy your food, you should know that labels must clearly indicate any allergens present in the product:
- On the ingredient list, you can see allergens in bold or capitals.
- After the ingredient list, there is usually a list of possible traces of other foods, as well as a full list of allergens (this is not always present, so make sure you check the ingredient list).
When a particular product is safe to eat for a specific group, the label clearly indicates so. You can see different examples in the pictures.
These show a variety of food products that are suitable for celíacos (celiacs), because they are sin gluten (literally, without gluten).
The first picture shows a product that is suitable for veganos (sin huevo y sin lácteos – no egg, no dairy), which would also make it suitable for people with egg or dairy allergies. The second one shows a product sin lactosa (lactose free).
Most supermarkets these days have a good selection of products sin gluten and sin lactosa. Smaller towns and villages might not have so many options, so it’s a good idea to buy a few extra things when you get the chance.
Eating out when you have food allergies
Eating outside is also possible, as long as you take some precautions such as informing the waiter/waitress about your alergia or intolerancia.
- You can say No puedo comer… (+ food you are allergic to), which means “I cannot eat…
- Alternatively, you could also say Tengo alergia a…(again, complete with food you are allergic to).
Let’s say you are allergic to peanuts. You could say:
No puedo comer cacahuetes or Tengo alergia a los cacahuetes…
or a combination of both, just to make sure the message gets a cross:
No puedo comer cacahuetes. Tengo alergia.
Some menus will have allergen information. You will see little symbols like these:
If this information is not there or if you are not sure, remember you can always ask about the ingredients in any dish (check Soy vegano/a for that info). And you can also ask for an ingredient to be left out. For instance, if you don’t want cream you could ask sin nata, por favor.
Do you suffer from food allergies and you have done the Camino? Please share your experience!
* For celíacos, here’s a link, in English, containing useful information and tips to prevent problems when eating out: https://www.celiacos.org/informacion/en-ingles/gluten-free-spain.html
This other link includes a list of restaurants in Galicia that have an agreement with the Celiacs Association to provide a menú sin gluten. The website also includes links to restaurant and hotel chains that offer gluten-free meal options: https://www.celiacosgalicia.es/web/es/comer_fuera_de_casa