Ok, so have you ever found yourself in this scenario?
While dining out on vacation a few weeks ago, I was very limited in safe menu options. It's just par for the course with my handful of restrictions, so I made the best of it. I was really hungry and optimistically ordered a bacon burger, no cheese, no bun. I smiled as I pictured something like the photo above arriving at my table.
First they brought me the burger with the bun so I had to send it back. No big deal.
They brought me the burger with no bun, but with cheese. So I had to send it back, slightly annoyed.
It was delivered to the table as a burger with no bun, no cheese, but also no bacon.
And it was so overcooked it resembled a charred hockey puck slapped on top of a piece of iceberg lettuce. Compared to my family's beautifully presented meals, this looked like something served in prison.
Are you kidding me???
So, back it went.
We had been seated for over an hour when they switched gears and brought me a piece of plain grilled salmon. The rest of my family was finished with their meals and ready to go (especially my squirmy seven year old son) and I had had enough. I asked for the check, wolfed down the salmon, and we left.
Oh joy! What a pleasurable experience, thank you so much!
It's moments like this that I find the most challenging and something that I've struggled with a lot regarding my restrictions. Eating out is like a crap shoot. Sometimes I get really lucky and find a restaurant whose wait staff and kitchen are extremely knowledgeable and I can relax and enjoy my meal. Other times, I do my best to order something safe, and find myself mentally pleading with the Universe that they get my order right. And other times, I simply have to walk out and try some place else.
In the case above, our server was on the ball and even double checked the ingredients with the kitchen before putting in the order for the table. I felt confident that I was going to be able to enjoy the meal. I don't know what happened once it got to the kitchen, but something was definitely getting lost in translation. The poor waitress was mortified, especially after the third attempt. Even the bus boy came over to apologize, sharing that he had never witnessed anything as bad as what happened to me and my food. In the end, they had taken off the cost of my meal, but let's be real folks — saving $16 did nothing to salvage the experience of dining out with my family.
We laughed about it over a bottle of wine, and it opened my family's eyes as to why I am so passionate about getting my 8SAFE label onto restaurant menus. This comedy of errors beautifully illustrated my point of how things go wrong and how vulnerable it is to eat out when you have food sensitivities.
My label could potentially eliminate a lot of miscommunication between the front and back of the house. When an item is listed as 8SAFE, you'd get the guarantee of knowing that it's made allergy-free every time, drastically reducing the margin of error.
But until that day comes, why not try this burger by the Feisty Kitchen instead. To make it 8SAFE be sure to leave out the optional egg, but it is otherwise allergy free. The FlavorGod spices and Farmhouse Culture smoked Jalepeno Kraut are both 8SAFE, and you should have no problem finding diced green chilis and guacamole that's gluten & allergen free as well. Enjoy!
*This recipe can easily be made 8SAFE if you follow the original recipe and only use processed ingredients that are free of gluten & the top eight food allergens.
Always use safe handling practices when preparing an 8SAFE recipe:
Wash hands with soap and water (hand sanitizer does not remove allergens).
Wipe down all surfaces; use clean equipment; and
Avoid cross contamination of ingredients not called for in the recipe. Be mindful that allergens can become airborne in flour or powdered form. Preparing 8SAFE recipes before ‘regular’ recipes will help prevent cross contamination. Do not share equipment among recipes (For example: If you cook regular pasta alongside 8SAFE pasta, use a dedicated spoon for each. Do not use one spoon to stir both pots.)
Clean your grill thoroughly beforehand (or use a clean grill pan or tin foil on the grill) when preparing an 8SAFE recipe.
Dedicate individual serving utensils for each dish. Allow food sensitive guests to serve themselves first to reduce risk of cross contamination from serving utensils.
When in doubt, snap a photo of the ingredient list of any processed items you use for an 8SAFE recipe. You can then share the information with your guests to confirm that it’s safe.