My husband often plays music at weddings and nursing homes and even funerals. He was slated to play at a local restaurant, and since it’s not really feasible for me to take our girls to see him play at the aforementioned spots, I packed them all in the babe-mobile (minivan) so we could watch him play.
It’s a small, family-owned restaurant, and — like many food allergy parents — I was concerned about finding something safe for them to eat. When we arrived, we did the usual “Hold on a sec while Mommy wipes down the table and seats” with baby wipes (hot tip: baby wipes get rid of allergen residue while hand sanitizer does not), and I checked out the menu for some options.
Their allergen line-up goes past the usual peanuts and tree nuts to also include other Top 8 delights, like eggs and milk, but also sesame and mustard and even coconut.
Macaroni and cheese is out. Little kid portions of lasagna are out. Personal pizza; definitely out.
My next step is to scan the grown-up menu. Often we’ll order salmon (no butter) with vegetables (no butter) and fries (as long as they’re not cooked in a fryer alongside something they’re allergic to). No fish on this menu. Hmm.
The server comes over and gives us a bright smile. She knows my husband well and also (!!!) stays up to date with Scratch or Sniff. We went through the menu, and I could not have asked for someone more thorough and conscientious.
“Pasta’s out, because our ravioli has cheese and I’m concerned that there could be cross contamination. No to deli meat, because we use the same machines to slice meat as we do to slice cheese. I can see if they’ve used it for cheese today, but unfortunately we don’t break them down and clean them until nighttime.”
Blink. Blink. Not a semblance of annoyance or frustration (on the one hand, I *get* it when we get that from servers. Waiting tables is a numbers game. The longer one takes at one table means a bathroom break might have to wait another forty-five minutes. On the other, allergies are so prevalent now that it makes sense to try to accommodate people with them.)
So let me tell you where we ended up. She had the cook grill some chicken breasts, but not before bringing out the bottle of cooking oil for me to read the label. She also brought out steamed broccoli and steamed white rice from the Chinese restaurant next door.
My girls dutifully and happily ate their meals while they listened to their dad play guitar and sing. I was able to relax a little and enjoy my veal marsala and glass of white wine knowing that the girls were happy and safe.
Special shout out to Amanda for making the girls’ night (and in turn, mine) easy and happy. I usually do this thing where I apologize for the inconvenience and thank them for accommodating, but she brushed me off and said no, no, as if it was no big deal for her. But it was a big deal to us, and isn’t that usually the case?
Meals out, birthday parties, classroom snacktime — food allergies take something so normal and everyday and make them challenging. So we’re — I’m boldly speaking for the entire food allergy community here ;) — always grateful for people who are committed to the safety and inclusion of kids everywhere.