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Avoiding molluscs in Italian food
April 23, 2014 1:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm allergic to molluscs: scallops, mussels, clams, squid, oysters, whelks, etc. I'll be spending some time in Venice and the Cinque Terre area soon. Is there anything I should look out for to avoid accidentally eating molluscs?

I know I shouldn't order pasta pescatore or dishes with scungilli, but any other tips would help.
posted by neushoorn to Travel & Transportation around Italy (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are a number of businesses that specialize in cards you can carry with you while traveling that explain your allergies in other languages. It would make sense for you to get one of these cards in Italian. Select Wisely is one such business that others have suggested here in the past.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:00 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Squid ink is used to color and flavor pasta and risotto. I don't know the Italian term, and there's probably more than one, but the black color is a clear giveaway.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:43 AM on April 23


"Frutti di mare" and "alle vongole" are another couple to look out for.
posted by katemonster at 5:35 AM on April 23


The Italian term for the squid/cuttlefish ink hydrophonic mentions above is nero di seppia.
posted by misteraitch at 5:55 AM on April 23


Make cards, in Italian, detailing your allergies and hand them to the waiter. Better safe than sorry.

"Sono allergico (allergica of you're a woman) ai molluschi: vongole, cozze, ostriche, totani, capesante etc. La prego di aiutarmi a scegliere un piatto che non ne contiene."

"I'm allergic to molluscs: clams, mussels, oysters, calamari, scallops etc. Please help me select a dish that does not contain any."
posted by lydhre at 6:19 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


The Venetian lagoon has some unique molluscs and shellfish that seem to have names only in the Venetian dialect and not in standard Italian (bovolo/bovoli being one I know). I would rather assume Cinque Terre might have similar dialect issues (every Italian province has its own language/dialect, plus standard Italian). If you're presenting a card or telling a waiter about your allergies, I would stick to just saying you're allergic to molluscs rather than listing them, because they may not map exactly onto the local terms.
posted by jaguar at 8:44 AM on April 23


Oh, and I always mixed up octopus ("polpo") with meatballs ("polpetta/polpette"). And I would definitely be aware that octopus is a big favorite on Northern Italian menus (usually in antipasti or salads), so watch for that one, too.
posted by jaguar at 8:54 AM on April 23


Everyone beat me to the translations but anyway you may find this link helpful: Food Allergy Italia.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 9:00 AM on April 23


One other shellfish to watch out for: Canoce.
posted by bink at 10:16 AM on April 23


Jaguar, while all the dialects are different (very different!), what I listed is standard Italian and all waiters will know it. They might not know squid is a mollusk (I didn't!), though, or scallops, so clarifying is better than assuming they will figure it out correctly.
posted by lydhre at 10:52 AM on April 23


Jaguar, while all the dialects are different (very different!), what I listed is standard Italian and all waiters will know it. They might not know squid is a mollusk (I didn't!), though, or scallops, so clarifying is better than assuming they will figure it out correctly.

Oh, yes, I agree; my concern is that presenting a long list might make it look like the OP is allergic only to those things listed, rather than to all mollusks as a category, and that waiters or chefs might not think that their local snail/claim/whatever is included in the list of allergens.
posted by jaguar at 11:46 AM on April 23


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