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Traveling to China with a peanut allergy

Traveling to China with a peanut allergy

Old Dec 2, 18, 7:08 am
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Traveling to China with a peanut allergy





Hi guys,

My wife has a fairly moderate peanut allergy, and we will be traveling to Chengdu later this month.

If I recall correctly from the days when I went to uni in China (10+ years ago), people pretty did not really understand what "allergy" was back then... this American girl I was friends with also had a nut allergy, and restaurants' solution to her saying that she has allergy was to cook with peanuts and remove visible peanuts from the dish ("no peanuts but added peanuts for flavor and removed" said the chef).

Is it better nowadays if you tell people you are allergic to huasheng and jianguo or should we just stick with McDonalds for the entire trip?
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Old Dec 2, 18, 7:14 am
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The main problem is peanut oil, widely used for frying.

Also, restaurants may use prepared sauces and other ingredients, and not really be sure what's in them.

So, yes, it is difficult to put life-saving faith in the assurances of Chinese restaurant staff. Seriously.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 7:23 am
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
The main problem is peanut oil, widely used for frying.

Also, restaurants may use prepared sauces and other ingredients, and not really be sure what's in them.

So, yes, it is difficult to put life-saving faith in the assurances of Chinese restaurant staff. Seriously.
Thanks for that. Maidanglao for lunch and Kendeji for dinner every day it is.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 11:25 am
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Originally Posted by samwise6222 View Post
Thanks for that. Maidanglao for lunch and Kendeji for dinner every day it is.
In spite of the fact that I'm not a huge fan of Chinese food, your plan sounds kind of depressing. Most Chinese people seem to grasp the 过敏 concept, and if you explain that peanuts or peanut products could kill your wife, that should get their attention. Chengdu also has decent western restaurants.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
Most Chinese people seem to grasp the 过敏 concept, and if you explain that peanuts or peanut products could kill your wife, that should get their attention. Chengdu also has decent western restaurants.

ok! That's what I wasn't sure of. Most people that I encountered had zero concept of allergies, but that was pre 2008 - so it may not be fair to rely on my memories from a decade ago.

I've always been a big fan of malatang and huoguo, but I am letting it go for the Mrs
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Old Dec 2, 18, 12:15 pm
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Originally Posted by samwise6222 View Post
ok! That's what I wasn't sure of. Most people that I encountered had zero concept of allergies, but that was pre 2008 - so it may not be fair to rely on my memories from a decade ago.

I've always been a big fan of malatang and huoguo, but I am letting it go for the Mrs
I hadn't though of 火锅, but this is actually a good suggestion because you have 100% control over what goes into it. The same goes for Korean BBQ.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 12:19 pm
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Sorry to disagree and disagree so very strongly, but on a serious health issue I would never trust a Chinese restaurant, ever. They're set up to churn out meals efficiently with what they have at hand. And if that's peanut oil, for example, you are going to get stuff made with what they have: peanut oil.

Yes, they can customize within standard limits -- hold the chili oil! -- but it's simply not realistic to think they are going to start reading labels or otherwise do anything which will take time. They have dishes to turn out.

Sure, most times if you're insistent there probably won't be a problem. But how can you roll the dice when it comes to your wife's health? This isn't the sort of decision you can make on a balance-of-the-probabilities basis.

Last edited by 889; Dec 2, 18 at 2:24 pm
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Old Dec 2, 18, 5:27 pm
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If her allergy is hazardous to her I wouldn't touch anything from a restaurant in China.

While I have extensive food issues mistakes are only unpleasant, not hazardous. Also, my wife is a native speaker, language is not an issue. More than once I have gotten unexpected things (really now, corn kernels in steamed rice?!) even when I was assured there wasn't anything extraneous. I've also had multiple cases where I had a reaction to something that should have been fine.

Nobody seems to have any concept of cross-contamination. Just because the dish was fine today doesn't mean they didn't cook something evil in the pan before they made her food tomorrow.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 6:43 pm
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Peanut oil has been widely use in Chinese food. Just take some allergy medicine with you. If your wife don't want want to miss Chinese food, try a little bit at the beginning. Remember, you should not trust others on this serious problem.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 8:51 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
I hadn't though of 火锅, but this is actually a good suggestion because you have 100% control over what goes into it. The same goes for Korean BBQ.
Not particularly. The problem with hotpots is that we are completely relying on the restaurant to completely clean it out of peanut sauces that its customers may have used....So 火锅 is out for us as well

Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
Nobody seems to have any concept of cross-contamination. Just because the dish was fine today doesn't mean they didn't cook something evil in the pan before they made her food tomorrow.
Exactly.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 10:30 pm
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I, too, would not trust any ordinary mainland Chinese restaurant about what they say is and isn't in the food that they are serving. For one, even if the kitchen doesn't specifically use peanut oil, the condiments and seasonings that go alongside the cooking could very well contain peanut oil. Same with MSG (I know, off topic), which is 100% unavoidable in mainland China.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 10:33 pm
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How about Element Fresh? A little boring, perhaps, but you could surely find food there that hasn't been even in remote proximity of peanuts.
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Old Dec 3, 18, 7:50 am
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
In spite of the fact that I'm not a huge fan of Chinese food, your plan sounds kind of depressing. Most Chinese people seem to grasp the 过敏 concept, and if you explain that peanuts or peanut products could kill your wife, that should get their attention. Chengdu also has decent western restaurants.
To an average Chinese person, 过敏 means a rash at worst and they're not going to make the connection between that and anaphylactic shock.
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Old Dec 3, 18, 1:11 pm
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Just out of curiosity, how well do those tests for peanuts in food work? If they're reliable I suppose they would make Chinese food a realistic alternative.
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Old Dec 3, 18, 6:19 pm
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Originally Posted by ztang15 View Post
Peanut oil has been widely use in Chinese food. Just take some allergy medicine with you. If your wife don't want want to miss Chinese food, try a little bit at the beginning. Remember, you should not trust others on this serious problem.
It depends on how sensitive she is. Trying it has little hope of detecting cross contamination and very well might not detect other things, either.
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