Nut Allergy in Morocco

Hey all, travelling to Marrakesh, Essaouira and around towards end of May with my partner who has got a bad nut allergy. We’ve just realised (somewhat foolishly!) that Argan oil is made from nuts and can have cross-reactivity with other nuts she is allergic to. I was just wondering, is it used as a cooking oil in a lot of dishes and do you think it would be a problem?

Thanks very much for any help anyone can provide!


brucetraven 06/05/14    Food & drinkMorocco Link Report

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Argan oil is used in many Moroccan dishes, but usually right at the end of cooking or just before serving, when it’s drizzled over cous cous and salads. You could probably request your food without it, but unless your French/Arabic is really up to scratch, you may want to limit your meals to English-speaking places where you can feel confident that your request – and the reason for it – has been understood. This is obviously something that you don’t want to get lost in translation. Argan oil is expensive, so I’m sure most places would be only too happy to leave it out if asked!

The other main culinary use for argan oil is for dunking bread in; it’s also used to make amalou (or amlou), a brown paste that looks a bit like peanut butter and is used as a dip.

Other things to avoid, depending on your wife’s allergy, are Moroccan pastries, the majority of which are almond-based; almonds are also often sprinkled over or cooked into lamb tagines.

Make sure you have a good Arabic / French phrasebook and that you learn and write down the phrase(s) for “I have a nut allergy”. You can also download nut-allergy translation cards from several places online.

Even then, though, you’ll need to be insistent about the seriousness of your wife’s nut allergy, as it’s likely that some waiters will probably mistakenly think that it’s not such a big deal and will try and fob you off with a “it’s fine” when asked whether their dishes contain nuts / argan oil.

Keith Drew 12/05/14    Link Report

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