Translation Filter: German and Czech Food Allergy List
April 12, 2014 11:03 AM   Subscribe

We are travelling to Germany and the Czech Republic later this month. My mom has a set of severe food allergies, and would like to print some translated cards for restaurant staff just to be on the safe side. I'd like to translate this list into both German and Czech please. I'm happy to translate using a dictionary, but I feel that native speakers will have a better handle on subtle details, such as corn and its derivatives (for example, corn flour is not big in Canada, but corn starch and corn meal are in everything). Many thanks Metafilter!

Food Allergies:

> Cucumber
> Cranberries
> Corn (Includes corn syrup, corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn oil, popcorn)
> Tarragon
> Peanuts
> Coconuts
posted by jjonajason to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
Best answer: In German (I'm a native speaker):

Lebensmittelallergien / Ich bin allergisch gegen
Cranberries [no German word for cranberries, we use the English one]
Mais (inkl. Maissirup, Maismehl, Maisstärke, Maisöl, Popcorn) [I don't think there's a difference between corn flour and corn meal in German]

Have a good trip!
posted by amf at 11:53 AM on April 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

FWIW, a friend who tried to do something like this (foreign travel, asking about food components she needed to avoid) found that she had a terrible time getting honest answers even when servers understood the mechanics of what she was asking them-- the idea of "I'm on a strict diet that avoids X" doesn't necessarily translate well culturally, so she'd get people thinking that probably a little of X wouldn't hurt, picking an answer at random when they really didn't know, etc.

If it's a serious health issue, I'm not sure I'd place my faith in just showing people the allergy list. If consuming one of these substances would just be a minor inconvenience, maybe stick with the list idea, but also include an urgent scary warning of some sort?
posted by Bardolph at 12:32 PM on April 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Bardolph's sentiment, and suggesting that it may be a good idea to research food items widely available in Germany and the Czech Republic that are likely to be affirmatively safe.

My experience with Czech folks is that they actually take a person's health pretty seriously, even if the concerns are idiosyncratic, but of course the establishments in the busier, touristy areas might not be so patient/mindful. Check out expat message boards to get some recommendations on specific establishments that will be more understanding. I used this one when I lived in Prague.

Do you happen to know if the manner of preparation has any effect on the allergy? For example, I have allergic reactions to raw foods (including peaches) due to pollen residue (see OAS) that no longer exists once the food is cooked (so the peach dumplings that were forced upon me by my caring hosts did no damage whatsoever).

My recollection is that you might get tarragon (more likely dill) and possibly cucumber (more likely onions and root vegetables) in prepared dishes in the Czech Republic. Almost everything in the Czech Republic comes fried.

Will you be in the larger cities, like Prague and Brno, or smaller towns? The options for food are less diverse from a restaurant standpoint in smaller towns, of course, but you will likely have access during the day to markets and grocery shops where you can pick and choose your food for non-sit down meals.
posted by Schielisque at 1:14 PM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might want to check out the food allergy cards here. What I like is that they say very clearly "if I eat this food or any food that has been cooked with it or touched it, I will need immediate medical attention" (In other words - this is serious stuff)
posted by metahawk at 4:27 PM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was going to recommend the cards from Select Wisely but metahawk beat me to it…
posted by Lexica at 6:01 PM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just a general observation - in a lot of English speaking countries you get much more comprehensive information on menus as to ingredients and accompaniments of dishes than in most German speaking parts. I am a native speaker of German and I am still regularly faced by 'surprise' ingredients or accompaniments, often times known allergens. Now I have no allergies as such, I just have dietary preferences so I won't die if I eat these dishes. But there is no sensitivity around this.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Italian or Asian cuisine may be a better option. Just beware of random 'localisation' to make it more appealing to local tastes. Often that entails adding random ingredients or modifying preparation methods in unexpected ways.

So expect to be extra careful. Also, if you want to substitute ingredients expect them to charge extra for that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:37 PM on April 12, 2014

A friend of mine has run of the mill gluten, lactose and egg intolerance. The baffled looks we got from waiters in Germany were astounding. Every single waiter had to inquire in the kitchen when asked whether a menu item has egg and/or milk in it. To this day I am not convinced they were always telling the truth. Expect only grudging accommodation and some ignorance.

To this end I would make your list of corn products as comprehensive as possible. They won't be able to extrapolate.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:55 PM on April 12, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!

I like metahawk's idea of a serious warning:

"If I eat this food or any food that has been cooked with it or touched it, I will need immediate medical attention"

amf / koahlatamadl / german native speakers: how would you translate this into German please?

Many thanks,

posted by jjonajason at 7:17 PM on April 14, 2014

Best answer: "If I eat this food or any food that has been cooked with it or touched it, I will need immediate medical attention"

Ich bin allergisch gegen ... [list]

Falls ich etwas esse, das diese Zutaten enthält oder Spuren dieser Zutaten durch die Zubereitung enthalten könnte, kann dies ärztliche Behandlung notwendig machen.

Or if you want to really emphasize how dangerous your allergies could be:

Auch kleinste Mengen dieser Lebensmittel (z. B. durch Kontakt bei der Zubereitung) können für mich lebensgefährlich sein!

This literally translates to "Even small/trace amounts of these ingredients (e.g. through contact during preparation) could be life-threatening for me!"
posted by amf at 12:59 AM on April 15, 2014

« Older Here's the pitch: "It's a giant reflective $6-20...   |   Music in Motion Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.