I don’t want to be a bother….
That is what my celiac daughter said to me last month when we had to leave a restaurant because (in my opinion) the risk for cross contamination was too high to be able to safely eat there. There was a fairly large group of us (all family), but she felt like she was messing up the whole evening because we couldn’t eat at that restaurant. It was absolutely heart-breaking. She was crying … and so was I.
But what started out as a really bad experience, turned into a really good one. Here is the story:
We went on a quick trip to Michigan to visit a new cousin/nephew. One of the evenings, the whole group of us (grandparents had joined us too) decided to go out to dinner. My brother, being very kind and sensitive about my daughter’s gluten free status, did some research and found a local pizza restaurant that said on their website “ideal for celiacs” and the Find Me Gluten Free app gave it rave reviews. We were so excited.
Soon after arriving, however, we were also very disappointed. Before we sat down, we asked if they used separate ingredients, utensils, etc. While they did use separate utensils, they used the same ingredient bins for both gluten and gluten free pizzas that raises the chance of cross contamination to a level that I am not comfortable with. We left after expressing our disappointment and encouraging them to change their website.
That is when my daughter said “I don’t want to be a bother” and started crying. I should point out that not one person in our group was upset about having to leave. Everyone fully understands (and supports) my daughter. No one was bothered about having to find a new place to eat. But she felt bad, and I understood.
We decided to have ice cream for dinner instead. When we walked into a local ice cream parlor just down the street, we discovered that they also had sandwiches and gluten free bread too. When we asked about their procedures, they asked if it was “because of celiac”. We said told them it was, and they sprung into action. All celiac orders are prepared in a completely separate room with completely separate ingredients. It was going to be safe! My daughter’s face just lit up. The smile got even brighter when we discovered that not only were all of their ice cream flavors gluten free, but also they had gluten free ice cream cones (again all was prepared in the back room to avoid cross contamination). Seeing my daughter so happy after being so upset, made me cry all over again … but in a good way this time!
I imagine that pretty much every person who has to be gluten free has felt they are a bother one time or another. That is understandable. And I am sorry that has happened. I hope that as celiac awareness spreads, our family, friends, colleagues and even strangers will understand and no one will ever feel like a bother for having to eat gluten free.