Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You Went Out to Dinner and Got Glutened. Now What? (Part Two)

(When last we met our heroine (that's me), I'd been glutened at a usually safe restaurant and the owner had responded appropriately. And by "appropriately", I mean "perfectly".)

Here is what he DIDN'T say:

I never have a problem. No one else ever complains.
That isn't possible. What, like flour flies through the air?!?
You must be allergic to something else.
It must have been something else you ate, somewhere else.
What do you want me to do about it?

That's a short list of responses I've received elsewhere after being glutened. I think the first two are worth further comment:

"I never have a problem. No one else ever complains."

I think this is true, that restaurants only hear about a fraction of the cases of people being glutened. While I now always let restaurants know when I've had a problem, that wasn't always the case. In the beginning, I just didn't want to drag my medical problems out to strangers. And trying to eat out was hard enough; dealing with a dining fail? Couldn't deal. I was also afraid that if too many people complained, the restaurant would stop offering a GF menu, because it was too much of a hassle. I am also VERY gluten-sensitive; I didn't want to ruin things for the people who COULD eat there. So I just stopped patronizing those establishments - and shared my experiences with other GF folks when I saw them.

But now I realize that: (1) GF is here to stay. Yes, it's a bit of a trend (much to my chagrin), but - at least here in NYC - it's also now a widely accepted need. More and more eateries are going GF, so the loss of one won't hurt. (2) If a place is getting THAT many complaints about unsafe food, we probably don't want them serving GF folks anyway!

On to inappropriate response #2:

"That isn't possible. What, like flour flies through the air?!?"

This came from the chef at an establishment that serves mostly gluten-containing products made with wheat flour (baked goods, etc.) I lived nearby and so desperately wanted to be able to eat their GF options. I tried and became sick each time. When I was able to sit down with the chef to get an explanation of their GF processes, he did not understand how it could be a problem for the GF food to be kept in the prep area for the wheat flour-based menu items, saying "What, like flour flies through the air?!?" Um, yes - yes, it does, mister. He followed this up with one of my least favorite (but rather common) replies: "You must be allergic to something else."


Will wrap this topic up tomorrow. Questions and comments welcomed! How do YOU deal with getting glutened?

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