Normally I plan my ‘outdoor’ meals ahead of time by checking online restaurant menus and nutrition charts. At the very least, I’ll try and see if there is a gluten free menu and then I’ll just make a wild on-the-fly decision right there in the booth. But you can’t always plan for everything. Sometimes you’ve forgotten to pack run out of your on-the-go snacks, and sometimes you just want more than a bite. I don’t have the best phone (contract’s up in May!); sometimes it likes to shut off on its own, and other times I’ll have to do the dreaded ‘battery pull’ because opening a web page freezes up the *expletive* device. As a result I try to avoid surfing the net with my phone, which means I can’t access online restaurant menus when I’m out unless I’m with somebody. This means, restaurant employees, I rely on you.
So, when I ask, ‘what on your menu does not have gluten?’ I really would appreciate the correct response. (Side note: This is not a post about being ‘glutened’ or, as I like to call it, ‘snipered.’) I have been witness to incredibly rushed answers to this question, with each one being a resounding and abrupt, ‘no-we-don’t-have-anything-gluten-free.’
This has become my newest eye-twitch-inducing pet peeve. There is no hesitation that comes with this answer. No pensive moment to actually mentally run through the menu. Just a ‘no.’ But hey, aren’t those a few salads I see in the appetizers section? Is that not a fruit cup? And…what’s that? Grilled chicken with veggies?
I suppose the ‘safe’ answer to my question is ‘no,’ but it’s certainly not truthful. And, restaurant employees, let’s say your dismissive answer is motivated by a true, underlying fear of cross contamination (not ignorance of what gluten actually is), would it kill you to say, ‘____ was not made with gluten, but it may have come into contact with it’?
I don’t think so.
So, the takeaway for today?
- Know your menu.
- Know how you’re making your food.
- Know your customers can (usually) double-check your answer once they have access to data by browsing the restaurant’s website.
Or maybe I should just get a better phone.