10 idiotic things waiters have said to coeliacs
Going out to eat as a coeliac should be a doddle these days, right? I mean, the allergen laws came into effect 6 years ago. That will have given restaurant staff oodles of time to get used to answering questions on gluten.
And all the new covid rules of people deep-cleaning everywhere should mean less chance of cross contamination.
Sadly, the law doesn't seem to apply to some people. At least, they think it doesn't. Whether the owner doesn't feel it's important to train the staff properly or if the manager just can't be bothered, there are some pretty clueless waiters out there. (Not everywhere, obvs. I'm eternally grateful to the waiters who go the extra mile to make sure I'm safe.)
But there always seems room for ignorance. So here are my top ten things I've heard in eating establishments (and why they are absolutely, definitely not okay).
1. "The gluten gets killed off in the deep fat fryer."
Hmmm. Let me think about this one. So when donuts get deep fat fried all the gluten gets killed off? 3 words for you: NO IT DOESN'T! So don't tell me I can have the chips in the fryer that's had beer batter in it.
2. "The chef can cut the crust off the apple pie. The filling's lovely with cream!"
I'm well aware how delicious gluten is, thank you. But if I wanted to cross-contaminate my food, I might as well eat the whole thing: the damage it'll do to me is the same.
3. "We've stopped doing gluten-free now as most people prefer vegan."
Wow, lucky them! You know what? I've decided I won't be a coeliac today. In fact, I'm giving up altogether. Wait, wait, d'oh! I've just had a call from my intestines. Apparently I can't.
4. "The chef says it's okay for you because there's only a little bit of flour in it."
How tiny is tiny? Is it fewer than 20 parts per million? Because that's all I'm allowed to have.
5. "It's not free! You'll have to pay for it!"
Well, that's it! I'm off! Who'd have thought of such a thing? PAYING for my food?! Whatever next?!
6. "We don't have anything gluten-free. Could you have Kosher instead?"
Oh dear. We really don't have a clue, do we? And I'm stuck on a plane to China.
7. "Gosh you're fussy. There's so much to remember."
How awkward of me! How silly of me to have this medical condition. Perhaps you can tell the chap in the wheelchair how annoying it is to fetch a ramp to get him up the stairs.
8. "The bread on the right is gluten-free."
You mean the piece of bread that would have been gluten-free but you've just contaminated? No, thanks!
9. "Let me just check the cows' milk is gluten-free."
What have you been doing to your milk? Adding gluten powder to it? Oh wait, there's the sound of a death knell. You don't know the difference between dairy and gluten (and I'd be a complete mug to trust you from here on in).
10. (Booming) "Who is the glutton-free?"
Over here! I'm the one who's terrified of looking like a water buffalo! Just get me a herbal tea, will you? Actually, given your ignorance, going for something that's definitely gluten-free might be best.
Have you had any bad experiences eating out as a coeliac?