International travel naturally presents an inherent challenge to gluten-free living because of unfamiliarity, different cultural customs, and the everpresent language barrier. To avoid cross-contamination when abroad, you have to carefully guard your safety, know the questions to ask, and be prepared to educate service staff when necessary. If you employ the skills that you have learned and practiced on the home front for avoiding cross-contamination, your chances for a safe experience abroad increase substantially.
First, never assume anything and always double-check everything. Although it can be challenging, try to know the names of the ingredients you can’t have in the foreign language for efficiently scanning menus. Then you’ll need to be prepared how to ask about cross-contact well enough in the country’s native language to steer you clear. Ask how the foods you are considering will be prepared and be on the look out for techniques such as dusting and dredging meats with flour. This is why having a general knowledge of how many foods are prepared can be beneficial, particularly overseas.
Another good tactic for avoiding cross-contamination is to ask that foods be prepared minimally and separate from other ingredients that can be questionable. And confirm that the service staff understands exactly what you need by having them repeat back to you in their words how they will prepare your meal. Even though you may find certain cities to be quite accommodating to your needs and know how to avoid cross-contact, you need to be prepared for the times when awareness of the issue is not what it should be. Backcountry inns where the staff doesn’t speak your language are more prone to communication barriers. But regardless of where you are when abroad, your strategy and safety net boils down to how many questions you’re willing and able to ask to protect yourself and with the preparation you have done at home to learn the language and prepare or buy reference lists.