Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Here's what gets me about menu labelling. If I don't see an ingredient in the listing of what comprises a sandwich, and I don't see the ingredient in the picture of the sandwich itself, then I'm going to assume said ingredient is NOT in what I'm ordering. With me so far?

Here's what I ordered last weekend at Chili's. Cut and pasted from their website menu (this is also how it looked in the printed version.
Mouth-watering smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, mayo, lettuce & tomato.
We were out with another couple, friends of NAH's from work. Both of them are good people, both completely familiar with my allergies, and both would walk out of a restaurant in a second if I couldn't eat there. That has absolutely nothing to do with this story, but it's a nice thing to be able to say about people, so I'm putting it out there regardless.

Anyway, when I ordered, I was a little nervous because our waitress was not writing things down (order by Jedi mind trick, perhaps?), and she was young. As I've expressed before, I really have a bias about young waiters and allergy-awareness. I know not from where it stems, but its there. So sue me. I showed her my med-alert bracelet and stressed the importance of leaving everything off my sandwich but the turkey and mayo. Both friends said to her, "please be very careful with her order, she's being polite but she has severe allergies." I reinforced this and explained that please, were a tomato to touch my sandwich, if the kitchen picks it off and then sends it out, I will still get sick. She seemed to understand. I was incredibly nervous, and the wife leans over to me and whispers "Would you rather go elsewhere?" I figured we'd give it a shot.

Imagine my surprise when about 15 minutes later our waitress came back to the table with apologies, but that she was resubmitting all our orders b/c mine had come out with the evil tomato, and she wasn't letting the kitchen just remove it from the sandwich. She even resubmitted wife's quesadillas, so they'd be served piping hot. Problem solved, attentive waitress, and it should have made for the perfect meal.

About a half-hour after we ordered, our meals were served. Mine had some sort of weird spice all over it. On the turkey, not just on the outside edges, so that I could not remove it with a knife. Everybody else started eating, but I spent close to 10 minutes scraping the turkey and all the spice off of my sandwich. I ended up with a slightly-mayonnaised roll. Now, it was a tasty mayonnaised roll, but I was really hungry and that simply wasn't going to cut it. After I explained what had happened after dinner, we went to the nearby supermarket and picked me up some snacks for the rest of the evening.

Why didn't I send it back? Well, after remaking it for me once, and having been told nothing about spice (because there was nothing on the menu or in the picture that looked/sounded even remotely like spice), I didn't want it to return to the kitchen a second time. I didn't want my dining companions to have to wait another half-hour for their food, or worse, to have to sit and watch me eat after they were done.
Not a big deal, but I have learned an important new question, "No spice is listed here. Is there any in this item?"

It was a most informative evening.

Your Allergic Diner

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