Eating At A Gluten Free Restaurant Shouldnt Be A Stress, But There Are Many Questions You Need To Know To Ask
Looking back to before you gained the complaint it's easy to think back to a time when you didn't know it existed. Â Remembering this might make it easier to have an emotional connection to a stranger (the server) who is about to help you. Before your waiter/ server go to ask someone else, inform them of how essential it is to you not getting unwell, and that it's just like an allergy. This might trigger a duty of care a waiter.
Take your time
If you are shy, asking a food service person when they are pressed for time and your table is full of hungry people will only put more difficulty on both of you. Usually you will want to make a request about gluten free options from the drink server (assuming they appear first), getting them to ask the most appropriate person to talk to you. You may also make your request after a server has read out the nightly specials, or after everyone else at the table have chosen.
Let's accept that you have had promises from the waiter etc and are somewhat believing that they know what they need to. I understand that following this up is going to seem like a real bother to you, but this is where most celiac become complacent and end up getting sick. So now is not the time to get complacent. Even with the best intentions, even an accredited gluten free restaurant can get this wrong.
You need to select a few items that you want, and ask for the actual ingredients - particularly in the dressings. Â Sometimes its just best to order dishes without things that are likely to get you sick like sauces. Because if they can't tell you what the ingredients are, you need to thank them and inform them that you and your group will have to leave. Hey, this is too dangerous for you isn't it? Don't let them trick you into believing everything will be alright when it is unclear if they really know anything about gluten free. Don't go all compliant now, you almost have that scrumptious meal before of you.
If they have your laminated gluten free alert card, they can always ask the cook to confirm the gluten foods in the ingredients list are not on your don't eat list. Chances are the waiter may think that gluten is only wheat. Let them know about a few of the other grains that contain gluten and that it might be disguised in soy cans etc.
Important and common Gluten free mistakes
Now this is a very non exhaustive list of the sorts of queries you may need to ask about your actual meal. But once you have had you favourite food a few times and asked chefsÂ what typically goes into it, you will soon uncover what the likely traps are. Things you may want to ask are:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â How do you put together the soup? Use your own stock? Is it made only from meat and vegetables or do you make use of a few cans or bottled ingredients?
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Has the plate been rested in any sauce or covered with any sauce? Sauces are often places for gluten contamination. Be stringent.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Are any meats or seafood that are used made from meat substitutes or food like salamis etc - these often contain gluten.
Well congratulations, you have read this far, and you are almost there. But apart from ingredients, the biggest pitfall for new players is CROSS CONTAMINATION. This is a problem where the food in your selection is gluten free, but your menu selection has been contaminated with gluten from another place.
You need to know that the dish has been prepared on a sanitized cooking surface with cleanly washed knives etc. You may want to avoid offending the cook by letting them know that by spotless, you mean cutting boards and knives were not used for preparing any other meal that contained gluten. All it needs is a grain of breadcrumb that ruins all of their diligent efforts.
Do not fall for the salesman's methods
In the realm of sales, the longer they can keep a potential customer around asking questions, the more involved they will become in buying a product that they initially were only window shopping for. This is because wasting time usually means people wont cut their losses and walk away. You are growing familiar with this particular shop and maybe even getting an irrational connection to a sales person. The same connection also goes for the potential gluten free restaurant. After you have gotten settled, asking all of the questions, got maybe some of them mostly answered, you may end up with a chef who does not speak English so well, now you have to make a choice. Should I stay or should I escape?
Initially if you bring along a card explaining standard ingredients you can't digest, about cross contamination etc, and have a thirty second talk rehearsed in a stress free break between a food server's spiel about his foods, you can feel much more happy about the attempting to find gluten free restaurants. The worst that can happen, is you can always eat steak or fish (no sauce) with vegetables, with or without the dressing that you have enquired about.
With so many allergic reactions surfacing these days, It's likely that most food servers have had more complex issues to deal with than your simple GF requests. The restaurant makes money on good word of mouth and if you enjoy your experience, they should flourish out of servicing you well. Get all of this easy training sorted at the start so you can sit with your companions and unwind knowing you are eating safely.