“Keep making noise.”
“Keep making noise or I’ll think you stopped breathing.”
“Okay. What thould I thay?”
“Are you lisping?”
This mildly amusing conversation took place on a Saturday night in mid-November, also known as the most terrifying night of my life. I’ve read a lot about food allergies, have cooked for a few people with them and personally have an allergy to shiso that leaves me covered in hives with an itchy face and numb tongue. But, this is different. This is potentially life threatening. This is my husband.
I’ve read about chef’s who willfully ignore patrons with allergies, personally know people who have lied about an allergy and have read stories about people with a myriad of allergies not giving a kitchen staff fair warning before arriving with a laundry list of demands accompanied by the words in bold caps If YOU DO NOT DO THIS I WILL DIE. I know I would be sick to be thrown into a high stress situation like that with no warning. All of those situations are just as disrespectful and dangerous as the other.
To chefs who intentionally harm their allergic patrons, the allergy-free who lie and the entitled who don’t give the staff fair warning to ensure their safety: YOU SUCK. You suck and only make life more difficult for the rest of us.
It is because of these people that I am afraid. I am afraid that we will now be mistreated or looked down upon when we dine out because the staff will never know if we are being truthful or not. I am afraid we won’t be taken seriously and someone will dismiss the seriousness of our situation. I am afraid that we will be treated as a burden. I am afraid that my husband will be hurt because of exasperation or thoughtlessness.
It is time to stop the lying and thoughtless behavior, because people are getting hurt.
Phil and I are taking steps, trying to be responsible for ourselves. Getting used to it has been about trial and error. Meeting friends for lunch on a whim, forgetting our situation ended in trading my spicy fried chicken for Phil’s pulled pork sandwich that ended up being topped with celeriac slaw. We didn’t send it back, it was our mistake for not asking when we ordered, so we found our own solution. I do not believe that the restaurant should not have to pay because we have been thoughtless.
I am now big on making reservations. This allows me to notify the restaurant, giving them ample time to prepare. Often this simply means making sure our server is informed so they can find out what he needs to stay away from on the menu. I am very grateful for this. We have even found kitchen staffs who have actually offered to make special stock and sauces for him with enough notice.
These encounters have warmed my heart and helped us see that the good people out number the jerks, but I don’t think the fear will ever subside. In all honesty, it is probably good that is doesn’t, because in a situation such as this vigilance is paramount.
Celeriac Salad (a.k.a. the offending salad I’ll never make again)
1 celeriac root, grated
3 TBS. olive oil
2 TBS. sherry vinegar
1 TBS. Dijon
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 TBS. mustard seed, lightly toasted
Make sure your guests are not allergic to celeriac or celery. Combine the oil, vinegar, Dijon, salt, pepper and mustard seed together in a bowl and whisk until it is emulsified. Mix in the celeriac, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve.
Get your a** to the hospital immediately if you are itchy or swollen after eating this.