March 17, 2015

A Rant about Restaurants

To some people, eating in restaurants is one of the pleasures of a vacation. But when you have food allergies, eating out can be a source of anxiety and even illness.

I have allergies and sensitivities to a number of foods. The hardest items to avoid in restaurants are wheat and milk products. Pepper is also a challenge, but my reaction to it is short-lived and is pretty much limited to coughing (sometimes violently, which can be embarrassing).

When I look at a menu, I don't look for what tastes best or even what is the best value. I look for what I can eat without feeling sick afterward. Often there isn't much. In that case, I might just order a hamburger patty and some lettuce, hoping that the burger is not heavily peppered. Or if they serve breakfast, I order poached eggs and bacon. (Scrambled or fried eggs often contain milk or butter, which gives me painful bloating lasting several days. Also, anything grilled or fried is likely to come in contact with wheat or dairy on the cooking surface. I've learned this the hard way.)

Personally I think that any restaurant should be able to serve poached eggs, but a surprising number of cooks don't know how to poach an egg! Simmer water, break eggs into a dish, slide them into the water and simmer for a few minutes. There's also a microwave method but hopefully cooks aren't that lazy!

So when I saw that this little diner served breakfast all day and had eggs "any style," I ordered poached eggs. "That is one style we don't have," said our waiter. So I asked for hard-boiled eggs; they didn't have that either. That's when I ordered a "burger patty with no bun, just lettuce and meat, that's all, no sauce or anything." I explained that I am allergic to wheat and dairy.

When our orders arrived, my burger patty had cheese on it. I had to send it back to get one without cheese. Perhaps the fellow did not know that cheese was a dairy product!

This is only one example. I'd say that out of 12 lunches on our trip, at least six of my orders arrived incorrectly filled and had to be sent back. Also, I had a reaction that I usually get from wheat at least three times even though the food appeared to be wheat-free. I suppose there were crumbs or perhaps just some flour on it. Fortunately my reactions have never been life-threatening, although wheat makes me terribly sleepy and that can be a safety hazard but at least on this trip I was not driving so falling asleep at the wheel was not a potential risk.

While in California, we only ate lunches out. We fixed breakfast at my sister-in-law's home and just had snacks for dinner. That's much easier than trying to eat out two or three times a day.

Sharing with Our World Tuesday


  1. I hear you Linda. I am in Las Vegas right now. I had been doing really well, but got into something. I always try to make sure there is no sugar or other things I can't eat in my foods. I even ask... But, I got into something and now my tongue is burning again. It hasn't burned for a very, very long time. When I get home, I am doing a cleanse.

  2. I think it should be possible for anyone to get food they can eat without problems at any restaurant.

  3. Hi There, Sorry to hear about your problems with allergies and certain foods. Eating out is one of our biggest joys ---so I cannot imagine worrying about what I can and what I cannot eat... Bless you, my Friend. I'm sorry...

    Restaurants should be more careful and more aware of people with allergies and certain needs.


  4. My son has Crohns and is on a very restricted diet. Onions make him very ill, and they are in everything. So I hear you loud and clear! It's amazing to me how many restaurants are not accommodating to food allergies. Many of the servers have no idea what's in the food.

  5. Good rant! (Sorry about your frustrations). Our daughter and several nieces have food allergies like that, and it really is frustrating when they eat out.

  6. So sorry to hear you have this trouble. It seems like any restaurant ought to be able to serve you and meet your needs. It's a shame they don't try harder to satisfy their customers and keep them safe!

  7. I feel for you. Your allergies must be quite pronounced if just being in contact with the culprits still cause a reaction. And I understand your frustration. I have dined with friends/relatives who have specific restrictions and unless both the wait staff and cooks understand nutrition, there are usually send backs.

  8. I can see that being very problematic. I've only had a reaction to food once, something in a Chinese dish. Since then if I happen to stop for Chinese, I confine myself to egg rolls or chicken balls, nothing complicated.


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