Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It's New Year's Eve!

And I am preparing for a lovely dinner with our dear friends Tim and Robin tonight.

I was going to smoke some ribs on our Big Green Egg (more on it later) but it has been raining since mid-day yesterday. NOT smoker material.

But I am following my mother's advice (rest her soul). What you do on New Year's Eve, you do all year. So I am going to relax, enjoy my lovely husband, and share time with friends.

This is to segue to a comment that has plagued me since I made the switch to GF: Why do servers get so hostile when you ask for specifics at restaurants?

For instance, we were at a place we enjoy earlier this week, Pannarano Pizza (more on it later, too). I had decided I would have a Sausage Parmigiana sub sans bread and green peppers. I PLANNED for it. I know where they get their sausage and it's GF. Ditto their marinara. They do it in a nice little ceramic container away from the pizza dust.

They were out of sausage. Grrrrr. So, I asked, what is in your meatballs? They were so sweet -- they offered to get the box and let me read the ingredients. Of course, since I found out they didn't make them, I had my answer -- it had to have bread crumbs in it (I personally make mine with ground GF oatmeal...but I digress).

So I had a Philly cheese steak instead. Yum yum. And no reactions.

But my point, and I swear there is one, when I asked the uber chic server at PF Chang's, which NATIONALLY ADVERTISES that is has a GF menu, what was in the food, he had no clue. What is that crunchy stuff on top, I asked? I dunno. Want me to ask? What do YOU THINK?

Let me add this: My dear friend Sandy Killam-Hall, MS, RD, is a vegetarian and for the 20 or so years we've been friends, I've watched her poll kitchen staffs and waiters. She has it down, and I want it too. She won't patronize a place that won't tell her what is in her food. Why should she? I mean, she's paying for it!

But what I can't stand is the attitude...look, 1. I am polite when I ask. 2. I explain that the food additives make me sick. 3. I smile a lot. 4. You get it right, and I tip big. How hard is that? I had a significant reaction the next two days, including all the bad stuff.

I do that with sugar, too, especially in teas and drinks.

Look, it's not like I chose this! I am GF because I get the screaming epizootis when I eat gluten. I blow up like a tick. Just because I'm fat, don't assume I'm on a fad diet (Atkins) or something like that. You want my business? I'm very loyal to those who treat me right (I'm very deontological that way).

So let me say a couple more things about Pannarano, the great lil pizza place. It's in the shopping center at the corner of Himes and Busch Blvd. next to Beef O Brady's. A few weeks ago, the former manager (sadly, he's gone now...) Cary Lee (a prince among men) decided I needed a gluten-free pizza. All summer he'd been telling me to bring him some flour and he'd make me a pizza. So I took some Bob's Red flour and he experimented and made a crust when he knew I was coming in. I LOVED IT. It was crisp and thin (which I happen to like best) and he topped with sausage and onion and sauce. And best of all -- NO REACTIONS! (He said he even made it in a different part of the kitchen :D ) Sadly, he doesn't work there any more and I'm heading home soon, so my pizza days are done for now. But they have great salads (love the Greek, no dressing) and they will make that killer Sausage Parm for me.

Or take 5 Guys Burgers. I know, a burger place? But they individually wrap each burger or all-beef GF Kosher hot dog in aluminum, and they're more than happy to leave out the bun. And they keep the buns away from the burgers until assembly! (Now, they don't pretend to be gluten-free like Outback. They're just nice.)
But I love that I can have a tasty ground beef burger, some wholesome fries, and some good toppings there without worry. Kudos, 5 Guys!

Service. That's what I'm talking about.

Happy new year's eve. And much love for reading this...


Sandy said...


Sounds like you are on the ball with your diet. I love that you are reporting on your findings.Everyone is entitled to know what they are eating.

I think restaurants should provide a list of ingredients (on demand, esp. chains) and require their staff to follow recipes.

Getting a truthful answer about ingredients, in my opinion. depends on those items you mentioned re: Good Manners.

However, if you encounter someone that doesn't seem to get your point, talk to a supervisor or skip what you wanted to order. Don't risk getting sick.

GCM...I miss you!

The Bouceks said...

We LOVE Five Guys!