I understand that many people in the world suffer from food allergies. These allergies can be cause by almost anything such as lactose, glutens, soy, nuts or let's face it, the list goes on and on. The hard part about allergies is going out to eat with family and friends. For the record, I sympathize for those with allergies. I understand that going out to eat is often difficult, especially if you cannot have such things like lactose, soy or glutens. But, there comes a point where you have to stand up to your friends and let them know how difficult it can be.
In the years that I have been serving, I have seen so many people make modification after modification on a dish so it becomes something they can eat. This post is not about the pains these people have to go through, but instead the assholes that can't understand their friend's situation or those who claim to suffer the same allergies.
Yes everyone, I'm standing up for those with food allergies. Who would have thought huh? Though, I must clarify something. There are so many people out there who go out to eat and say they are allergic to certain dishes because they do not WANT to eat them. That's a big difference from CAN'T eat them. Many of you don't realize, but there are a lot of picky eaters. Big shock huh? I have no problem if you have an actual food allergy and need help choosing from the menu or modifying a dish to make it eatable. I have big issues with people who come in and claim they have these "allergies" but then I see them taking food off their friend's plates that contains the allergen.
One of the current leading food allergies is Celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disease which causes damage to the lining of the intestine due to consumption of flour, wheat, barely or rye. In short, it forces you to have a gluten free diet unless you want to suffer the consequences of abdominal pain, diarrhea or intense bloating.
The funny thing about Celiac disease is that it is often misdiagnosed by stupid people using WebMD or thinking, "Well, I had that piece of bread two days ago then had a tummy ache, I must be gluten free". No everyone, that's not how you get diagnosed with Celiac disease. Go to your doctor and get a blood test!
In the last couple of years, people like Dr. Oz and other medical professionals who cater to the masses on T.V., have been putting this "seed" into people's brains. It's funny how people use information. I bring up this specific point because last year I had a table where one of the individuals told me, "I suffer from a gluten free diet. What do you mean your restaurant does not have a gluten free menu? Do you know how many people have this disease?" As I walked away from the table, I overheard them talk about how they just saw this featured on T.V. the other day. Kind of funny, huh? They saw this talked about on T.V. and didn't mention a thing about going to the doctor.
I almost laughed at this person because they made it seem like it was cancer with the way they were reacting. When it came time to ordering, they modified a dish to the point where it retained nothing of it's previous form.
That night I sat at my desk and ran through the eight page menu to create a gluten free section. Unlike other restaurants who offer a couple of dishes, I had a two page spread of food that anyone suffering from Celiac disease could order. That way if anyone came in looking for a gluten free dish, they had their own separate menu.
My wish was granted and they returned. Surrounded by the same people as the last time, I brought them over my newly created gluten free menu. "Oh Miss, I remember you from the last time. I brought over a gluten free menu I created for people afflicted with Celiac disease such as yourself" I said smiling.
"With what?!" she said looking at me like I was crazy.
"You can't have glutens. I remember the last time you came in, we had to specially modify your dish so it wouldn't have glutens."
"Oh no, I'm cured. I'm all better, thank god" she said tapping the cross hanging from her neck. She did that classic smirk to her friends, the one that you do when you are trying to show how thankful you are in life but you honestly believe that you deserve it. Her friends reached out and tapped her hand in sympathy.
"Oh thank goodness" one of them said letting go a deep breath.
"You were cured?" I said raising my eyebrow.
"Well yes silly, the joys of modern medicine."
What the silly woman didn't realize is that this is NOT a curable disease. In fact, doctors do not even know the exact cause of the disease. It happens at any moment in a person's life and causes them to change their diet for the rest of their life.
I let the issue drop because I knew this would be a major head ache to argue. This is my point though, these people who spend time watching daytime T.V. or searching on WebMD instead of getting an actual medical opinion.
These are the people who make it difficult for those with actual food allergies. These "fakes" storm into restaurants, claim they need special dishes made so it won't hurt their bodies then are often seen snacking on other people's plates.
I caught someone who did that once and when I asked them about it they replied, "Oh, I can have a little here and there". Screw that! My poor sister-in-law cannot have anything from soy, nuts or dairy, do you know how hard it is for her? Especially during the holidays when we are stuffing our faces with turkey, corn bread and all the fixings?
For those with actual food allergies I suggest a couple of things...
1. Let your friends and family know how difficult it is for you to go out. I know everyone wants to celebrate birthdays or such by eating out, but let them know that some thought on the restaurant might be kind and appreciative.
2. Allow the restaurant time to create a plate for you. Sometimes those with true allergies are so impatient with having to wait. We are not always fully prepared for anything you throw at us, so some time and patience is a good thing.
3. If you know someone who has a "fake" allergy, tell them they suck! They are giving you a bad name in the industry. I'll be honest when I say that most of us cringe when someone starts to say, "I have food allergies...". I'm not trying to be rude, just honest as I always am.
And for those of you who claim they have allergies but just want to be a pain in the ass...I hope you do get a food allergy so you can spend the rest of your life crapping your day away on the toilet from something you ate.