Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rant Alert

This is a rant pure and simple. If you don’t want to read some rage then move on because ranting begins below:

If I have to go kitchen by kitchen, manager by manager, then so be it. But when are people going to learn that I know what’s best for me, not you? That my allergies aren’t a preference: as in I don’t LIKE nuts versus nuts will make me ILL? That plain means plain, not a little sauce, not a touch of dressing, not with a chopped walnut flourish that looks pretty.

Plain. Nothing. Nada.

How can I make it plainer?

Case in point, for lunch today I ordered a tomato and mozzerella salad at the spot I’ve been coming to for a few days a week for the last few months. I order this salad all the time. I order it plain-no dressing, no nothing. And I always give them the Allergic Girl spiel unless it’s one of my favorite waiters, like Rob or Miguel who understand the sitch.

Today it was someone I hadn’t seen before. I told him the story and all seemed cool and clear.

Until my salad comes decidedly not plain.

Why? Where did my order, very simple order for a plain salad, where did it go awry?

First, I went to find my waiter. He was MIA. A manager approached me once he saw the distressed look on my face. Actually it probably read more angry/determined than distressed. I told him I had ordered a plain salad that came very un-plain. A cluster of waiters suddenly formed around us as the manager looked for the right waiter to blame.

Once my waiter arrived I repeated the issue firmly and with a soupcon of I’m about to explode on you.

“When I asked for this salad plain, I asked because I have food allergies. This is not merely a preference, I need this to be plain, nothing on it. If your kitchen is not able to handle my request or feels it ruins the integrity of their dish, I understand, just tell me I will take my business elsewhere. But I have been coming here for a long time, and it seems this kitchen doesn’t believe I really need my food to be plain.”

At this point I see the waiter has gone back and is showing the lunch ticket to chef. The manager is apologizing and backtracking and saying he doesn’t know what went wrong but the kitchen should be able to handle it my request. The waiter returns to show me the ticket that has **allergies** written all over it.

I thank him for his diligence and ask them both what the hell is wrong with the kitchen? Seriously? This isn’t rhetorical. What is wrong with a kitchen that disregards a lunch ticket? Keeping in mind that the ticket was correct and there were three tables filled in the whole dining room i.e. it was empty. There was no lunch rush; it was a lunch crawl-meaning the chef had plenty of time to read the ticket and understand it.

No one had an answer as to why it wasn’t read or misread or ignored.

Are you getting bored of these tales? I know I am. Today, I’ve just had it with people that think they know what I need better than I do.

Mark my words, this will not be the last time I have this conversation with this kitchen. They really don’t get it.

And on this absolutley gorgeous day I seriously spazzed out. [I only mention the day because something about a pretty day makes me wonder how could anyone be angry or sad, anything but feel as glorious inside as it is outside. But sometimes you just need to rant, even when it's nice out].

PS Two waiters just came by to giggle with me about the "plain salad debacle". The whole thing was a bit ridiculous. I was told the kitchen staff got a serious dress-down. So maybe this time they will get it. We shall see.

6 comments:

robin said...

I get it. I hear you -- I appreciate your rant. We know that eating out with allergies is difficult, but when a good restaurant screws up, what's a girl to do??? It can be such a disappointment when you think you are in a "safe" place and then have a bad experience - for no clear reason. I've had two recent similar experiences, and even with my sunny-side-up disposition, I could rant with you all day today! One positive thought, however - at least the food was visibly not plain, so you could avoid being poisoned...

Allergic Girl said...

robin: thanks for the sympathy! i too am usually miss sunny but i just kinda snapped yesterday [i was hungry]. and yes i could see that it wasn't plain instead of having to do a taste test...phew!

sallybranwyn said...

I've had people (including close friends) ask me what actually happens with celiac disease. "Maybe it's not really gluten, cause I read an article that said this is all just a hoax (something along those lines) in The New York Times."
Yep, seriously, I choose this. It's fun for me. I'm just a picky eater. Gimme a bowl of frickin' pasta, I'm over it...I'm cured! Ahem...I totally understand.

Tracy said...

I feel your pain! I ordered a salad once at an upscale place and talked the server through my food issues: gluten, casein. I told her dressings were fine, but no croutons, noodles, nothing created from flour or from a grain at all. My salad arrived with an enormous pile of fried chinese noodles on top.

My favorite though is when I mention no dairy, and the server looks at me and asks "So you can't have eggs?" I answer "Just not the ones that come from cows."

I've found the Triumph dining cards really helpful. Servers and staff seem to take it more seriously when it's written on a laminated card...and then the chef can read it too.

Brett said...

I have the laminated card. But oh god, do I feel your pain! Even my house salad last night came out TOPPED WITH CARROTS- and my card clearly lists them among my allergies (along with nuts, soy and sesame). WTF? My allergy card and my EPI pen should demonstrate that this isn't a dietary issue, it's a matter of life or death - or at least vomiting on your four top!

Pixie said...

As a former restaurant employee I've seen this happen a few times; usually because the person making your salad is not the chef. Unless it's a remarkably small kitchen with only one person in it, the person making your salad is probably from Central America and most likely does not have a very firm grasp of English. Even if you luck out and get someone who speaks fluent English and makes your dish correctly, it still is the responsibility of the expediter (usually the chef) to match your allergen-free food with the correct ticket.

We are in the service industry because we genuinely like making good food for people, and I'm sorry that this happened to you. I find that most restaurants will comply and actively try to make your experience a good one. I'm enjoying your restaurant tales a lot, and it makes me smile to see that a lot of places are working with you to make your meal (edible and) delicious.

I'm allergic to apples--so I 'get it.' Try finding a tasty juice-blend without apple juice in it! Even the 'orange-mango' ones contain apple juice.