Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Three Years Dining Out Gluten Free: What would you like to order?

I have been basically MIA with blogging this past year.  New town, new life, new job.  I have had tons that I could write about, but I just have not had the time or the energy to keep up with it. 
This past weekend though I had a moment that brought about my need to write.  A moment where I also had to have a heart to heart with myself and with my family about where I am at the moment.  I have worked myself into a rut.  And often right now it is filled with a lot of irritation.  In a way I  am grieving again.  I am upset about what I can no longer do, but this time it is a little different.  Last time (3 years ago) I was upset that I could no longer "eat normal foods".  That part is now funny to me, as I will tell you, I do eat normal.  I eat fantastic foods.  I don't miss Gluten. Hello?  Yes, you heard that right.  I really don't miss The G. 
I no longer live  in a city with many gluten free eateries anymore. Hopefully in another few years I will be able to say otherwise. And yes, there are a few places I can thankfully eat safely at, such as Outback, Red Robin and PF Changs here in the northern Alabama area and I have always had positive experiences there, but they are close to being it. 
This is not The Happiest Gfree Place on Earth ... this is No Disney World. And because of that I have become a little irritated with dining out.

Flash Back to this past Saturday:  My husband was working for the day and the kids and I were hanging out at home. Around 10 am, my husband texted me and said, "Hey, I'm getting off early and on my way home.  Get the kids up and ready and we will go do something."  Great.  "Let's go eat somewhere." 
I had gotten to the point many months ago, where I was not risking dining out anymore as I was just frustrated with the few options or no options available, attitudes given with a huge lack of knowledge concerning cross contamination and so I had become
comfortable and somewhat content with pre-eating or bringing my extra cool lunch box just because .. cause yea, that is cool .. I love always cooking for myself. <sigh>  I have been handling everything, but I can say at this moment I am tired of it.  I am.  

I did recognize that I was getting a little agitated. I wanted to not have to make something today, so then I had to begin thinking about the "where". 
But really, I don't want to pick. I know the kids are going to start their ... "I don't want to eat there.  I don't want that. We always go there."  And then I get asked, "How about Rosie's Cantina? You ate there with us last time right?"  No offense Rosie's, but no, I have not eaten there.  I don't do dairy. And soo many in the kitchen don't speak English (again no offense), but I don't do Mexican anymore unless I have heard that the restaurant really gets it and I know people have had fantastic experiences gluten free there.  So. no, I have not eaten there.  And I am now irritated with my husband as he has forgotten that I took a sandwich from home with me when we ate there the one time. 

We decided on Jason's Deli (no I won't eat there either) for my husband and one teen and Five Guys for myself and the other teen (they are right next to each other).
I do watch this Five Guys like a hawk .. I'm trying to not be a "Hawk Bitch", but I do hoover and I do watch.  I have had to remind a girl to let them know I have an allergen as they started without knowing ...  and I have had another girl roll her eyes at me when I told her no french fries in my bag as I am allergic to potato. And at a different location, I have had another employee put their gloved hands on a couple of buns and then put their hands back in my foil container to ready my lettuce etc. for my hamburger patty.  Yes, I made them redo that one.
They are not the best educated Five Guys on the block.  (And just to note: This is Not just about Five Guys, as I have eaten at many that take gfree very serious, and it is not just about the North Alabama area restaurants, but with all restaurants everywhere who have  a gfree menu, but really don't get it.  Five Guys just happened to be my breaking moment in this town at this time).

Open kitchens are full of learning experiences as to what really goes on with your food.  Occasionally I wish I were still new to this ... I kind of wish I was ignorant ... I kind of wish at times that I couldn't see.  But I can see, I don't turn my head ... I watch ... and here is how this time went.
My foil container was sitting off to the side of the prep area with my designated lady hoovering over it.  P.S. I like this.  My teens bun was sitting in front on it's foil wrapper.  They were waiting for the burgers to come off the grill and in the meantime having fun, joking with each other ... all fine.  Here comes the teens cheese burger .... the burger flipper is laughing, joking, clowning around and guess where the cheese burger deliberately went?  Yes, it did.  It went in my tray.  I did not order a cheese burger. They then proceeded to laugh, joke some more and the girls had him take it out of my tray and place it on the teens bun. 
Did I tell you I am dairy free?  Did I tell you that my stomach feels like it may explode if I have dairy? 

Have I told you I have been enjoying eating out less and less? 
So, I quickly spoke to the girl immediately behind the counter ... no, I did not scream  .. and yes, I did want to.
I attempted calmness and told  the girl this .. "that was not ok. My tray is an allergen tray, right?  I did Not order a cheese burger, but just a piece of beef.  I can not have dairy.  It needs to be redone." Yes, if it was not serious, I truly might be laughing  at the ridiculousness of this. Did I mention the teen was now around the corner by the drinks?
The girl quickly apologized and yes, they all were listening to me.  They may not have understood my language, but they knew they screwed up big time.  The girl who listened to me, threw it away and told them it had to be done over and she handled it the whole way through. Professionally I might add. 
I did tell her "I really appreciated her" ... Yes, I may have been gritting my teeth, but I did say that.  To their credit they did fix it and I had no reactions. 
I am just tired of having to be on all the time.  I would love to go back to the days where I had no worries.  Eating out was always an enjoyable time. Now it is a rarity.
I don't want people asking me where I can eat anymore.

I don't want to have to ask a server for an allergen menu.

I don't want to have to read the disclosure at the bottom of said menu stating "Yes, we have gfree pizza, but really ... if you have to be gfree, well, it's just not for you" (bastards).

I don't want to have to explain and dig about where my other allergens might be ... my new ones on top of gluten intolerance.
 I don't want to be asked why I'm not ordering anything by a server when the rest of my family is.  I just want to be left alone and have a glass of wine.  I don't care what you think about my drinking and not eating habit. 

I don't want you to ask me again if I am sure I don't want to order anything, because Yes, I am sure. I really don't want to order anything because guess what?  I can't eat anything here.

Way too many restaurants just don't get it. 
So here's the Scoop.  Here's the 411.  Here's the whole Kit and Kaboodle.  Ready? 
Handling cross Contamination in your kitchen, with our meals ... really Is how gluten free stays gluten free and allergen free if needed too.  Cross Contamination makes Gluten Free items .. Not Gluten Free.  Therefore the people that really have to be gluten free can not eat at your restaurants.  Not being educated and making mistakes can cause us to be sick. Really sick for days and even weeks.
I have food intolerance and food allergies, not an eating disorder. I am not on a diet.  I just am an average, normal person, who a little over 3 years ago used to be able to go out and dine with no worries ...None, Nada, Zilch, Zero.  And then I got sick.  My cure?  To be 100% gluten free everywhere I go.

I have been teased with the "Gluten Free Menu Thing" for a short while.  I am no longer a fool.   I see through the smoke screen.  I see whose Menus really are wolves in sheeps clothing.  And 3 years in ...  I am not scared anymore  ... just very angry about eating out with food intolerances.   And I am dealing with these feelings.  I am.

So to Restaurants Here, There and Everywhere with a Not Really Gluten Free Menu and Kitchen:

Don't  be surprised when you ask me, "Mam? What would you like to order?"

And I respond with, "A glass of Chardonnay thank you.  And no, nothing else thank you. I just ate at home."


Alexis (GF in Orlando) said...

So sorry to hear that you are struggling with eating out! I wish I too could go back to the early days and my blissful ignorance of all the cross contamination issues in restaurants. I too am so sick of restaurants having a GF menu or options but having no concern for cross contamination! Thankfully, I don't have any reaction if I have been glutened. I am continually grateful that I live so close to Disney and can feel safe dining there every week.

Melody said...

I have been there! Nearly 8 years GF for me, and truth be told, I pretty much don't eat out. I found it too stressful. Most of the time I'm OK with not eating out, but every once in a while the resentment of not being able to go grab something, or go enjoy a meal with friends (and actually EAT, not just sit and drink a beverage) etc really gets to me. Thank you for sharing your feelings, it's always good to know you're not alone!

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