Friday, June 19, 2015

Restaurant reminder

Gluten-free restaurant menus and special diet accommodations have come a long way since I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1998. A really looooong way.

I try to keep that in mind whenever I'm eating out or on the road, anywhere outside my usual dining comfort zone. I was reminded again last night that gluten-free foods are not an entitled to us as customers. I'm not resentful when I'm not accommodated, but thankful when they're a safe meal is available. 

Last night, I went with a big group of family to a pizza-pasta restaurant. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision for me, so I did not research it in advance. Unfortunately, the kitchen had nothing gluten-free to offer with the exception of side salads.

I simply chose not to eat when the server refused to a simple alteration for taste. I wasn't hungry anyway, but her visible irritation with the request and lack of empathy (knowing I couldn't eat anything else) made me uncomfortable. In fact, a dining companion commented that the rest of the food would likely get spit on.

In addressing the gluten-free diet, I was told I could bring in my own dough next time, and they could make me pasta from it. Due to the high risk of cross-contamination, that won't be happening.

I don't expect to be accommodated at restaurants, and spent years dealing with this sort of restaurant annoyance and ignorance before "going gluten-free" became more widely known. It's been a long time since it last happened, but shows that the restaurant industry still has a long way to go in serving gluten-free meals. Special diet menus or accommodations shouldn't be taken for granted.

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