|Gluten Free Bread Basket?|
Food allergies are becoming more and more common. Mostly, people seem to have gluten and nut allergies. Of course, it’s the allergic person’s responsibility to make sure they don’t eat anything that might send them to the hospital, but for the most part these affected people can go to a restaurant, ask for a gluten-free menu, and everyone calls it a day. Occasionally it is not so simple.
I have developed a late in life allergy to nightshade vegetables. What I thought was a minor tomato allergy – some blisters on my face the next day if I had some pizza, has become a full on expunge that shit back up from whence it came and out of my body emergency situation. I was lucky enough to discover this on Christmas Eve when I thought to myself, “No one’s going to see me for a few days. If I’m going to go ahead and have A meatball (Meatballs are Christmas Eve fare every year. I look forward to them more than putting up Christmas lights), I might as well have 5 meatballs in sauce and 2 or 3 pieces of lasagna.” I had so missed lasagna. Those thoughts I had to myself were the wrong choice.
On its own, a no-tomato policy wouldn’t be too alarming to a server at a restaurant. Combining it with some others could lead to a bit of exasperation. I went for dinner the other night with my closest friends B, D, and D’s fiancée. The waitress came to the table and she was asked for a gluten-free menu and a vegetarian menu – no problem! When she returned she asked if there were any allergies at the table. Oh boy. Queue D, “I am allergic to gluten, dairy, and soy.” The waitress’s face drooped a bit with concern. That’s a lot of allergies. She then looked to B, who had the vegetarian menu, and was informed of B’s milk allergy. Whoa Nelly. She looked at me and hey now, “I can’t have tomatoes, peppers, or paprika.” We all chimed in to ease her pain, “Don’t worry though! None of us will die or anything. No anaphylactic shock or anything. We’ll just get really sick.” I’m sure she was thinking the sentiment that we shared when she walked away, “Oooh she drew the short straw tonight!” Fiancée has no sympathy, “Whatever, it’s her job. We’re paying her. She can deal.”
“Can I bring you some bread?”
“Well, I can eat bread. And fiancée can eat bread.”
“We have gluten free bread! I can bring that too.”
Regular bread arrived, I was going to eat it. I love bread. I think if I had a gluten allergy, I might just suffer. It came with some pesto. Again, no problems for me or fiancée! B looks at the bread – “Is that cheese on the top?”
“Um, yes. Definitely cheese.” B is disappointed that she will be waiting for the gluten free bread. B does NOT like eating gluten free ANYTHING.
The gluten free bread showed up on the table and didn’t look so bad. It did
have some sort of flavoring on the top though, oil or butter? We weren’t sure. “Waitress, waitress! Does this have butter on it?” Fiancée tasted it and assured that there was no butter on it, but we needed to be sure.
“Uh, I don’t know. I’ll go find out.” She returned shortly after to let us know that the bread was basically hypoallergenic. B was dipping her bread in the pesto and was quickly interrupted. “Don’t eat that though!!! There’s cheese in it!”
The questions about the menu began. “Can we eat the fried calamari? It’s on your gluten free menu.”
“All of our fried things are fried in soybean oil.”
“Oh. Okay. So I guess I can’t eat any of the fried things.” Poor D.
B has the vegetarian menu, but still can’t eat any of it. “Sooooo, I don’t eat fish, pork, or red meat. I would normally get something on the vegetarian menu, but everything on it has cheese in it. And I can’t eat cheese.” Exasperation had set in at this point. The waitress disappeared and sent back her manager. The poor dear. We were really making it hard on her. The manager was great. We eventually were able to all find things to eat and as far as everyone was concerned, all problems had been solved.
Now, fiancée, while having no food allergies, is diabetic. D is used to this. B is a nurse, so she is not phased by any medical procedures. And I get B12 shots once a month, so I’m not bothered by people with needles either. So, when fiancée takes out his insulin to dose himself before the meal, it wasn’t a big deal. Our poor exasperated waitress, however, was bringing us a second round of drinks and happened to get to the table while fiancée was sitting there with a needle sticking out of his arm and alcohol wipes on the table. I don’t think she’s going to forget us. For a very long time.