I haven’t been out to eat much since my diagnosis, but almost all have been positive experiences.
I’ve read a lot, though, about people who go to restaurants that don’t have a gluten-free menu and just order a salad. They figure if they can communicate enough to the server that they need no croutons and a vinagrette dressing, that they’ll be fine. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, not exactly. Some people report having been to restaurants, gone through above procedure, and then their salad comes out with croutons anyway. Here’s the conversation I imagine happens:
Person with Celiac: “Um….I ordered no croutons on my salad. I have Celiac Disease and can’t have any food or anything touching my food that has or has touched wheat. Could you please bring me another salad that’s freshly made?”
Server: “Oh, I’m sorry about that. Sure thing. I’ll be right back.”
Server’s head: “Stupid customer. They’re so annoying. I doubt they really have a problem; they’re just trying to make my life tough. I’m just going to take off the croutons, wait ten minutes, and take it back out. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
No, it’s not fine. And I’ve lived in fear of what would happen if I found myself in that situation. What do you do? How do you know if it’s a fresh salad? Crouton crumbs are miniscule! Do you go ahead and eat it, trusting your server/restaurant? Do you try to order something else?
Then I heard a great idea: After your server has delivered the food, but before they come back to ask if everything’s okay, you hide sugar packets in the leaves of the salad. That way, if they try to bring back the same salad with the offending ingredients picked off, you’ll know, and you can send it back again. If they’re gone, you’ll know it’s a fresh salad.
That was not something I came up with myself, but I thought it was an excellent idea. Thank you, mystery person, for recommending that.