Gluten free in Italian


Today, my friends, I want to talk to you about going gluten free in Italy, or more accurately about a few Italian phrases that will help you avoid gluten when eating.

I have a strong intolerance to Gluten. I am not a coeliac but I suffer consequences if I eat gluten, and it doesn’t take much for me to suffer.

This is inconvenient.

Anyway, as it happens, and Covid permitting, I will be visiting Italy at some point next year. This struck me as a good a reason as any to work on my Italian. I booked a lesson with an iTalki lesson teacher.

I’d decided before my lesson that I wanted to know more avoiding gluten, and how to avoid eating it when ordering food.

And so with an accommodating teacher I spent some time pretending to order food. My teacher became a waiter and I became a hungry gluten intolerant customer.

All of us coeliacs or people with a gluten intolerance, who visit Italy, know (or really should know) sensa glutine means ‘without gluten’.

And it works, you can travel far with these two words.

You can say sensa glutine, point and smile and with a bit of luck you will get a gluten free pizza base or gluten free spaghetti. You can also try Impasto senza glutine ‘gluten free dough’.

Now to add a dollop of metropolis sophistication, the absolute basics you will need are:

Sono celiaco/celiaca 

I’m a celiac (masculine and feminine versions).

Sono intollerante al glutine  

I’m gluten intolerant

But we want a smidge more sophistication and precision. And so my babers, for your delight and delectation, this is what I learnt through my restaurant role play experience.

After Sono celiaco, you can continue with:

Quali  piatti  mi  consiglia?

Which dishes would you recommend?

And then if you are lucky you will be recommended various gluten free options. Gluten free pizza, pasta and so on with some sort of lush Italian source.

Unfortunately, and this is something that I have discovered through bitter experience over time, you might still be poisoned.

Let’s take pizza for an example.

Having explained your intolerance, you might well get a gluten free base, but people often don’t realise that the most unlikely toppings may contain wheat. Examples being sausages or the casing (if that is the correct word) of salami or chorizo.

And this has caught me out on more than one occasion.

Until now.

Using the following phrase …

mi  piacciono  molto  le salsicce  ma …

I like sausages a lot but …

… split into two for emphasis …

Se  hanno  farine  dentro   o  fuori   non  posso  mangiarle

If they have wheat inside or outside I can’t eat them

.. I can bring this fact to the attention of the waiter or waitress.

I can also say:

Devo  saperlo per  la  mia  allergia

I need to know (it) because of my allergy

I don’t have an allergy, and if you do, don’t rely on these phrases to keep you safe!

And for extra emphasis:

Non  posso  mangiare nulla,  anche  le  tracce mi  fanno  male

I can’t eat any, even a trace makes me feel ill

I’ve taken the liberty of translating farsi male as ‘makes ill’. It more accurately means ‘to hurt’ which doesn’t sound quite right in this context to my English ears.

Hopefully we will still be able to travel next year.

Fingers crossed.

This is Day 2 of the Post a Day series. How long will it last?

Besos, Baci and Pax.


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