My home away from home is an island off the coast. I decided to go there and visit some friends for the weekend. Before I left, there are a few questions that I asked myself:
-Does my friend's house where I am staying have any pets? No.
-Do I have extra Epi pens, Benadryl, inhalers, and environmental allergy meds? Yes.
-Do I have a copy of my chef card with me (it's always in my purse)? Yes.
-Is there any food I want to bring with me in case I can't eat? Not on this trip.
Since I know this destination well, I felt confident that I would find food that I could eat there. That is why I decided that it wasn't necessary to bring food with me. I was actually looking forward to getting food from all my favorite places on the island.
When I finally arrived off the ferry, it was already close to lunch time. My friend picked me up and we drove out to get our favorite sandwiches. There was already a line out the door when we arrived. My friend Jamie said, "We should have called in our order." I knew for me, it was much easier to order there, and watch how they made my sandwich, instead of having to explain my allergies over the phone.
"Can I please have a turkey sandwich on Portuguese bread (they are known for their bread, hence the reason I cart back a grocery bag full of it for my family each time I go there)? Can you also please make sure the person making it knows I have a peanut and fish allergy, so to make sure to change their gloves. Also please have them make sure it is put directly onto a plate and not onto the counter, and cut with a clean knife. Thank you!" The girl taking my order was great. She wrote my allergies down and went over and talked to the girls that were making the sandwiches. They all changed their gloves when it was time to make my sandwich. I was glad they were being so careful.
It can be difficult sometimes because I feel bad that I have to make such a fuss of asking them to do all these extra things so that I can eat, but if I don't, then I can't eat. With more and more education in the food and restaurant business, people are becoming much more helpful and understanding about food allergies. I didn't have one problem all weekend with people not being nice about my allergies. It is also an island that is used to tourists and dealing with high maintenance individuals, but I still think that education is starting to get around little by little!
My next food experience was later that afternoon. Ice cream!! There is this fabulous ice cream store that is a "must go to at least twice in two days" type of place because it is so good! When I ordered my ice cream I said, "I have a nut allergy, can you please use a clean scoop and clean the area of the ice cream?" The guy waiting on me did even better than that. He took the Ben & Jerry's approach, and not only got a sterilized scoop, but also went in back to new ice cream to make mine. Perfect!
That night, a group of us went out to dinner. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. I gave the waitress my chef card (which always seems to be both a surprise and relief to servers, since they don't have to write all my allergies down, and can easily show the chef, but also because many times they haven't seen one before). She went back to the kitchen and told me I was all set. I made sure to specify that I could not have fries or anything else that came on the side besides the lettuce and tomato. When the food came out, mine had fries on the side. I explained again that potato was one of the allergies I had, and that they couldn't just take the fries off the side. I needed a new sandwich. The waitress went back to the kitchen. She came back out a few minutes later apologetic and saying that the chef also apologized and that they were making a new one now. No worries! As long as they understood I needed a new one it was okay, which they did. When I eventually got my food, it was great, and certainly worth waiting for them to make me a new one.
The next morning we went out for brunch. I ordered scrambled eggs and toast. I told the waitress my allergies, and had her double check that they just used olive oil and butter. I had been there many times, but no matter what, I always check. An easy meal with no problems!
I went back that afternoon for my second ice cream of the weekend! This time I had a high school aged boy, who seemed to be new at the job. When I ordered and told him about my allergies, he took a spoon and tried to clean off the top layer of ice cream. Luckily, the other guy that was working took over from there, as I started explaining what had been done yesterday. He went in back and got my ice cream for me. Phew...
All in all, it was a fabulous, allergy-free weekend away!