A story about dietary specifications
We all have a list of foods, however large or small, that do anything from rub us the wrong way to threaten our health. Some of us bare through it and profess it’s no big deal, some us of stand our ground and demand our meals be prepared without the offending foods. When I was younger the list was loooooong and I face the risk of “starvation” rather than consume anything on it. I was always grateful when servers were nice to me about my no mayo/well-done steak/sauce on the side neediness. As a server myself, I knew it was a pain. But I wanted it that way and, as a server, I knew it was their jobs to get it for me. I gradually became more accepting of various foods and chose to eat everything presented to me while I lived in France. I didn’t want to be that American, nope. With the exception of beef tartar, I ate it all and I liked most of it.
I left France in search of a new life in Portland where I could get my fresh baguettes, farmer’s market produce, farm-direct meats & cheeses and dinner out at a different cuisine any night of the week. My list got much shorter to include only cilantro, mustard and horseradish/wasabi. Not too bad; I say they’re like David Byrne, you either love them or you hate them. But then came the gluten free revolution, and I had to add something HUGE to the list. It became of list of its own.
Of course I didn’t have to, but I did chose to spend a few days without gluten to see what all the fuss was about. Within a few minutes, I started to learn all kinds of ways that my body likes to react to gluten exposure, and I chose to add gluten to the list of “absolutely no way…I’d rather go hungry.” Because honestly, how I pay for it later is far worse than temporary hunger. People shake their heads at me, but I don’t care. Watching people shake their heads is far better than cold symptoms and gut-wrenching pain. And as a restaurant owner, when servers give me sass for my dietary specifications, I have no patience. I know it’s their job to get me what I want and watching them formulate opinions about my dietary choices as I order my meal is unnecessary. It’s none of their business why I don’t eat gluten, whether it’s because I have celiac’s disease or am just “following a fad”. I doesn’t matter if I’m allergic to tomatoes or I just think they’re gross if they aren’t sun-ripened. I don’t want to worry that I’m offending the chef’s art by insulting the ingredient list. That’s ridiculous.
We understand that when you dine with us, you’ve made an important choice about how to nourish your body and spend your time and money. If you tell us you are allergic, sensitive or just flat out don’t like a food(s), then we will tell you what we can make that is both delicious and meets those specifications. Period. No rude service, no back-of-the-house complaining, no food contamination…just a clear understanding of your needs and a flawless execution for a leisurely dining experience, just like everyone else gets. How’s that for art?
In this house, “accommodation” is a dirty word. We are here for everyone just the same, because we know that everything isn’t for everyone. Tell us what you want. It’s no problem; it’s our pleasure.