Going out to eat now that I have to be gluten-free can, quite frankly, suck rotten lemons. Not only that, I’ve discovered that I get more than lethargic the next day if I have gluten. I’m talking sick within 5 minutes or so of being contaminated. A couple of weeks ago, I toasted some of the gluten-free bread I made for breakfast 2 days in a row. Got sick both days and didn’t quite put 2 and 2 together until I saw someone comment on a friend’s post about cross-contamination by toaster if it’s only been used for bread with gluten. Light bulb on, please!
Worry about cross-contamination along with the eternal “What the hell can I have” question while looking at a menu while eating out has me more than a little upset at times. My husband wanted ice cream one night and I figured, why not. I went along and when ordering my ice cream, in a cup, I asked for her to use a clean scoop. Several times while explained why I need her to use a clean scoop, she asked, “Do you want me to run it through the dishwasher?” I wanted to reach over the case and strangle her. Instead, I simply said, “Yes, if you don’t have a clean one.” Think about it. They use the scoops repeatedly and dunk them in the same water to rinse them off pretty much all day.
Yesterday, we were at the zoo with some friends and had lunch there. I had to ask what the “Grilled chicken basket” came with, the answer being fries. Then I had to ask if the fries were fried in their own dedicated oil or if it was fried with anything breaded. Poor teenage guy looked like I asked him to cut off an arm. He went and asked, and yes indeed, they are fried in their own oil. Then, thankfully, he read back the order because apparently it’s not just grilled chicken. It’s a grilled chicken SANDWICH. It didn’t say that on the board. I asked for no bread.
Fast-forward to our drive back from the zoo. We are stuck in traffic and I’m tired and hungry. That combination doesn’t look good on me. I was at the point where I didn’t have an idea of what I was in the mood for and I didn’t care where we went. My husband pulled his phone out and opened an app that will list restaurants near you and gave it to me to look through. He got off at the exit he wanted and driving around a lot of no’s immediately hit me. No’s being fast food like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc. He kept driving and I saw an Irish pub. I love Irish food and I thought of several things I knew I could have, based on a great little pub we have back in Louisville where the owner is from Ireland. Well, turns out this place is a chain restaurant, Claddagh Irish Pub. Let me remind you, I’m tired and hungry. Going through the menu, immediately all appetizers are out of the realm of possibility. No soup either. Most of the entrées were off-limits, too. It’s rather frustrating when your options are immediately cut to 5% of the menu. And it’s not like some dishes you can easily ask for no bread, or no croutons, etc. Gluten is hidden in a lot of things. I happened to notice smoked salmon and when I said, “Ooh,” my husband knew exactly what I saw. Then my heart dropped. It was a salad. I refused to get a salad being that salads tend to be the “safe” choice. And with all the salads I’ve had in the last few weeks courtesy of the oodles of lettuce supplied by my CSA, I really didn’t want one.
I asked for the “Cheese and fruit board.” When the server brought it, it was cheese, grapes, and CRACKERS. The menu didn’t say: Cheese, fruit and cracker board. It said: Cheese and fruit board. It really pisses me off when the menu doesn’t tell you what exactly things come with. Yes, I should know better to ask by now, but I was tired and hungry. I gave my husband the crackers, but there wound up being a lot of crumbs all over the plate that I couldn’t get it all off the cheese. I was near the edge of tears. I was either going to cry or I was going to rip someone’s throat out. I had to wait a few minutes for the server. He was rather slow, as in we had to wait 10 to 15 minutes for him to reappear after we told him we needed a few minutes to decide what to order. I asked him to take the plate back, told him I can’t eat it because of the crumbs all over the cheese and asked for “new cheese.” The guy thought I said, “blue cheese.” Before I knew it, the manager was out at the table telling me that they don’t have blue cheese. I told him I said “new cheese” because the cheese I sent back had been contaminated. Then it clicked for him and he said a new plate would be right out. My entrée, the balsamic chicken with mashed potatoes and roasted veggies was pretty good, even if I was in a horrible mood. I brought home half of it and had the leftovers for lunch today. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it.
I’ll tell you what really sucks about eating out. Having to ask all the questions and know that I’ve become that customer. The customer that is demanding and persnickety. The customer that holds up the line because I have to ask one question after another. The customer that holds up the line because I don’t want to be cross-contaminated. Yep, that’s me. Just think about that person that’s in front of you asking questions, asking for the server to do something different and less efficient. They might have a food allergy and are trying to prevent getting sick. Sure, they might hold up the line, but they have every right to ensure a good dining experience like you.
Just think. That person in front of you could be me.