Thanks to all of you who write in remarking how much this Allergic Girl gets out.
It’s true, I go often, about five nights a week. Firstly I’m single. Restaurants are a major source of socializing, whether with dates or with friends. So allergies or no, I get out there. Secondly, I like going out. I live in a great foodie town and there’s no reason I should be eating at home, alone in my room.
But this isn’t to say I don’t have run-ins with my inner colt – that part of me that gets skittish and can’t be calmed. It happens.
Like a few years back whilst eating at the Ivy in LA with my then Boyfriend. He was pushing me to try their famous wheat bread, which arrives to your table steaming hot. [Those were still during the gluten-full, lacto-ovo vegetarian years where, in a pinch, I could make do with a big salad and a portion of the breadbasket for dinner.] Why the hard sell? Because he really liked the bread and wanted me to like it too. So I asked our server what was in the bread.
“It’s a secret recipe. I can’t tell you.”
“But, I have food allergies and I can’t eat it without knowing what’s in it.”
“Sorry Ma’am. It’s a secret family recipe and I can’t divulge its ingredients. If you tell me what you’re allergic to, I can tell you if it’s in there.”
“Well, tree-nuts mainly.”
“There are no tree-nuts in the bread.” And off he walked.
Any of you who have allergies or sensitivities or have read even one post of this blog will know that wasn’t going to be good enough. This is when Boyfriend got a little insistent.
“He said it had no nuts. Try it. It’s really so good, I know you’re gonna love it”
“Thanks but I can’t. I don’t what’s in it.”
Power play ensued: Eat it. No, I can’t eat it.
And the main reason I couldn’t/wouldn’t eat it was: I got spooked. And once I get into that place, I’m done. It’s partly, no it’s mainly, a trust thing. I didn’t trust the server, my main line of communication to what was in my food. So I was done. Spooked and I couldn’t get un-spooked.
[FYI: When Boyfriend and I made up later than night he told me he just really wanted me to enjoy it and was upset for me that I couldn’t eat all of the things he could enjoy. "I know," was all I could reply.]
Or a more recent example, Monday, lunch at the Regent . I ordered a simple Greek salad, dressing on the side. Of course it came dressed. The waiter told me that the dressing HAD BEEN walnut oil [which was not labeled on the menu] until he told them “no nuts”. So they dressed it in something else and sent it out to me.
I looked at the salad, wilting in the hot sun and the salad looked back at me, and whispered: “Spin the roulette wheel - try me.”
Ok, the salad didn’t actually speak to me but I had officially entered Spooksville, population: moi. I didn’t trust the kitchen nor this salad. What did they put on it? Are they sure no walnut oil was tossed in for good measure? Things on the plate were also marinated [which wasn’t stated on the menu] and that spooked me as well. The waiter apologized, another waiter came over, said they’d re-make it with everything on the side. But I was done, cooked, officially scared off a Greek salad.
I’ve accepted that this will happen from time to time. The spooked thing. And after talking with so many chefs the previous weekend in SOBE I know that this feeling, this gut feeling, is not unreasonable to trust. It may kinda equal a pain in the ass but I’d rather that than a trip to the hospital.