Buying Groceries in Taiwan with a Food Allergy

I'm in Taiwan right now for business and to celebrate the Chinese New Year! This weekend, I got a text message as I was leaving the gym asking me to pick up groceries for 3-Cup Chicken, a traditional Taiwanese meal that we were going to have for dinner. I took that as a perfect opportunity to record the experience to show my tricks for safely buying pre-made food when I'm in a different country. I use a 2-step process that includes two different methods, the Google Translate App, and professional translations (you can use an app or translation cards for this part).

Step 1 - Using Google Translate

Whenever someone talks about going abroad with food allergies, one question I get a lot is "Why can't I/Why don't you just use Google Translate?" To which I reply, "the translations aren't precise enough."

So why then, am I including the Google Translate App as part of my strategy for ordering food abroad? Google Translate App has a great feature that uses augmented reality, meaning it modifies what you see in real time. The built-in scanner looks at the other language on the package (or menu) and translates what you see into your language of choice. I still don't trust Google Translate enough to bet my life or anyone else's on them, but I find the tool extremely helpful for eliminating what's not safe, as it can help detect which options are clearly labeled with my allergens.

The Package of 3-Cup Chicken Sauce that I was Responsible for Picking Up

Step 2 - Using Professionally-Translated Messages to Confirm My Choice

Using Google Translate, the sauce I picked up passed the first inspection--meaning I didn't see anything that mentioned my allergens on the package. The second step is to communicate with the cashier, in this instance, and confirm that the food would be a safe choice.

For this part, you'll want to make sure to use professionally-translated messages that communicate the importance of avoiding cross-communication and other information about your allergy. Personally, I chose to use the translations in the EpiCenter App, but other methods, like reliable translation cards, can also do the trick.

3-Cup Chicken

After following the process and identifying safe-to-eat sauce for our meal, I got to taste the final product...and it was amazing!!!

3-Cup Chicken - a Traditional Taiwanese Dish

The recipe was simple enough, only using:

2 packages of chicken

1 package of mushroom

1 pepper

1 package of 3-Cup Chicken Sauce

Watch the Whole Video!

You can watch the 2-step process play out here:

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