As the waiter asks me kindly to wait while he asks the kitchen I expect the worst case scenario. Going to restaurants always brings me mixed feelings. I’m relieved if it’s possible for me to eat there, but I never have a lot of options.
Although I’m happy I can choose one dish, it’s confronting to see my friends breaking their brains over all the dish options. As the friendly waiter starts bringing in the starters and I’m happy with the conversations and a good glass of wine. My mood changes instantly when I see my dish with Milk-sauce all over it (Yes sir, Yoghurt contains lactose).
Disappointed by the lack of empathy I tell the waiter in the most friendly way that I can’t eat this. After some quick apologies he takes the plate back to the kitchen as I tell my dinner partners to finish theirs before it gets cold.
There must be millions of people who can relate to this, being intolerant to certain nutrients. I’m not allergic. I’m not choking when eating a peanut. I’m intolerant and not even severely. Certain foods are just not good for me to eat because my body doesn’t seem to acknowledge them.
I have to admit that these intolerances are tricky, not for me but for others around me. I feel burdened when I enumerate my list of can’t eats and see their happy appetite faces disappearing. You will be eating carrots right?
Yes I have intolerance towards wheat, lactose and sugar. Just when you probably thought it couldn’t get any worse, I don’t eat meat out of principle reasons.
That doesn’t many there is nothing tasty left. I can eat lots of really tasty recipes and almost every nutrient has one or multiple substitutes. I can eat spaghetti like everyone else, I just replace the wheat with spelt or kamut. I replace milk with soy or almond milk. Artificial sugars can be replaced by natural ones.
As the main dish arrives I feel like crying when I seeing my dish covered with a milk sauce again.
You probably think I must have been at the wrong place, but it happens more often that you think. The most outrageous example must be at a certain he latin restaurant in the Netherlands. I chose a fruit with whipped cream dessert (Without the whipped cream of course).
They came back with the fruit dessert covered with whipped cream. A little red-faced I said: “Sir, I can’t eat this due to my milk allergy”. They should have realized food intolerances are not a life choice; you have to live with it. Imagine to always be very careful, to always look at the back of products. Somewhat annoyed they took my dessert away and came back about four minutes later with the same plate where they clearly wiped the whipped cream off and deliberately (?) forgot half of it.
Having said that I also want to share some restaurants which were incredible with their service and friendliness towards the problem. Ria’s Eetcafe in the Netherlands (http://www.riaseetcafe.com/) and da mimmo e francesca aula (Italy) (http://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g1400553-d3482462-Reviews-Da_Mimmo_e_Francesca-Aulla_Province_of_Massa_Carrara_Tuscany.html).
Although it’s difficult to live with it, it also has positive sides.
It’s much healthier! It’s much harder to get fat (don’t misread this I am also born like a stickfigure), You will have better skin when avoiding sugar, You learn a lot about food and the stuff they put in it. It’s better for your teeth and did you know you are contributing a lot to the environment when you don’t eat meat and milk products?