Just getting over a few days of food-allergy misery. I’ve been eating out a lot–just check my Facebook or Instagram photos!–so I’m not all that surprised a bit of gluten, soy, dairy, or corn snuck into my food. I guess I tempted the Food Allergy Gods one too many times.
This may sound slightly paranoid to some of you, but I kind of wonder if this time at this particular restaurant the chef didn’t intentionally leave an allergen in my order. It’s horrible to suspect someone who is preparing your food isn’t taking your food restrictions seriously, but we all know it happens.
Here’s how the dining experience–er, dining disaster–played out. The waitress is terrific–very aware of my needs because she herself is gluten sensitive. She asks myriad questions and goes over the menu in detail. To be safe, it’s decided I’ll order plain grouper and steamed broccoli and cauliflower. The table will share crab legs for an appetizer, butter on the side. The only unanswered question is what kind sauce of the six offered I can have on my fish. She goes back to the kitchen to find out.
When she returns, her face is flushed She explains that the head chef is “old school” and believes the front of the house–the waiters and servers–shouldn’t converse with the back of the house–the chefs. I thought this only happened in the movies! How in the world is our waitress suppose to find out if food is allergen free without talking one-on-one with the person preparing the food?
“I told him you’re not going to have to use an epipen on my watch!” she says. Her pen flies up in the air like a sword.
This waitress went to battle for me. How awesome is that? But that’s also why it makes getting sick from this meal even worse–and why I suspect foul play.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just leave the restaurant then. In hindsight, I should have. But it was late, few other restaurants were opened, and we were so enjoying this view of the full moon.
So I ate my plain grouper that was nondescript, which was fine if it meant not getting sick.
Of course, you now know how that panned out.
While rolled up in a ball on the bathroom floor, I rehashed that meal in my head. I pictured the chef ignoring that lovely waitress. I wondered what he missed–or added–to my order that made me so sick. I kept asking myself, If this chef had a wife or a child with food allergies, how would he feel about interacting with the front of the house then?
I’m often quick to blame a waiter for leaving croutons on my salad or butter on my vegetables, but maybe I don’t know what he is dealing with behind those swinging steel doors. When a hierarchy exists in restaurants–when good communication between all food staff members doesn’t exist–those of us with food restrictions pay the price.
The only time I’ll return to this restaurant is to see the sunset. I’m pretty sure this chef could care less about losing me as a customer, but the waitress may. She did her job exactly right. I’ll give her a high-five the next time I see her.