Russia: Worried about Nuts!

Posted on: Tue, 11/30/2004 - 10:13am
eyespy's picture
Joined: 11/30/2004 - 09:00

Hey, ok I just ran into a problem.

I'm starting university next year and my plan has been to study history and Russian studies. I want to take a summer language course in Saint Petersburg and then go there for a semester or a year on exchange.

For some reason I didnt even consider my nut allergy. I'm 19 and have lived with it since I can remember but I guess I feel pretty safe in Canada. Lots of awareness and labels and such.

I'm looking for ANY information about the awareness of this allergy in Russia. I'm worried they won't have "may contain nuts" type warnings and other info like that. I can deal with restaraunts as by then I wil speak enough to talk to the chefs/waiters about the allergy and ingredients. However I will need to obviously buy food, snacks and meals (at the university for the meals) and I'm very concerned. I don't think the allergy is as common there, but at least it sounds like nuts aren't overly common.


Posted on: Tue, 11/30/2004 - 11:51am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I spent last winter in Kazakhstan. My DS, who didn't travel with us, is PA so out of curiosity I spent quite a bit of time checking such things out. I didn't come across any trace of awareness of peanut allergy. I didn't see peanuts or nuts in many foods, but I would still be concerned in a restaurant setting because even though you might be able to confirm that any given dish doesn't contain peanuts or nuts, there is the whole issue of cross-contamination of dishes and utensils to deal with.
However, I did find a lot of US and Canadian products at the Ramstore. Enough that I think I could have cooked safely. I would imagine that American/Canadian products are even more readily available in St. Petersburg.
I would want to check out the medical care situation before I left, to make certain that if you had a reaction and were taken to the hospital, you would be treated appropriately. Even if there isn't a widespread awareness of food allergy, I'd imagine that their medical people are fully trained on how to deal with anaphylaxis. I'd just want to know for sure before I landed in the ER...
I'm envious...I often dream of going back but we traveled for an adoption, so we won't be going back any time soon...
I would imagine you would be just fine.

Posted on: Tue, 11/30/2004 - 12:05pm
eyespy's picture
Joined: 11/30/2004 - 09:00

I really hope I will be. Travelling has been my dream for a while and I am in love with Russian history, language, culture, etc. I had completely overlooked my allergies and all of a sudden it hit me and it was such a huge blow.
I suppose a good idea could be to contact the university. They may have some information as it can't be totally 100% uncommon to have someone with that condition live in their dorms. I would probably not eat out very often as I would be weary, but I suppose I'd have to call that once I'm there. I'm mostly concerned with the food at the university, since I doubt I'll be able to cook for myself. I mean, they have McDonald's and stuff there but Russian food would be an experience. But maybe one I'd have to avoid.
I also think I'm going to contact the Russian embassy here and see what they can tell me. I will probably ask them about the medical info as you pointed out.
Thanks, any more info is awesome.

Posted on: Wed, 12/01/2004 - 3:58pm
krasota's picture
Joined: 04/24/2000 - 09:00

Which nuts are you allergic to? So long as you do speak Russian, I wouldn't worry overly much, but be very cautious. Yes, nuts are quite prevalent, especially chestnuts and hazelnuts. Nuts are a feature in some sauces, plus nutella-like spreads are super popular. Peanuts and other TN will be found in candy bars and such. Many pastries and ice cream novelties have nuts, but you can just avoid those.
Transcaucasian and Caucasian food might pose some difficulties. Walnuts are sometimes used in Georgian cuisine--often in the guise of a sauce.
I can't remember if walnuts were common. I was over there in 1996. I do remember eating at the Krishna Cafe in Petersburg. My study program was in Moscow, at MGU, but we had some vacations in Peter. Our group took package tours and restaurants that cater to groups are NOT vegetarian friendly. [img][/img] I usually took off with a couple other veggies and hit better restaurants.
I wasn't allergic to peanuts, soy, etc, back then. My only food allergy issue in Russia was brie. I didn't realize that it would be so popular and had a nasty reaction to a couple dishes containing it. I am severely allergic to the penicillium strains used in moldy cheesemaking.
Have lots of fun. If you're relying on dorm food, I feel for you. MGU at least had some student-run cafes that produced food that was tastier than institutional cuisine. [img][/img] I was also placed with a home-stay after a couple weeks, so I didn't have to eat at cafeterias unless I chose to.
When travelling, I carried broth cubes. When all else failed, I could ask for a bowl of boiling water and some dry salad (cabbage, sometimes with carrots). I'd dissolve the buillon into the water, then added the salad and plenty of salt. (Just so you know, some places uses common salt wells at each table--those could be contaminated if a guest happens to use zir fingers instead of a spoon.)
There's always the farmer's market. And miniature markets pop up at every single metro station and park and intersection. [img][/img] You can pick up bread, cheese, and other yummy things. And I learned to love baklazhani (eggplant) when I was there. It's commonly prepared in a slop that is deceptively terrifying in appearance. [img][/img] It will be a brownish purple and a glaring matron will stare you down as you try to indicate that you would like some. That, or you'll get it whether you want it or not. It's prepared with eggplant, tomatoes, onions, vinegar, and oil . Sunflower seed oil is the most common oil I saw used when I was there, but those things can change.

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