Thursday, 15 November 2018
I need to start off with an apology, which is how I start off all my interactions with my priest. I haven't posted in what feels like forever, and I am sorry about that. I have some good excuses though, one that includes a arm/hand/tendon issue which has caused me to spend my summer in a lame ass brace and a sling. I never realized how much I clap like a toddler when I am delighted until it started to feel like my wrist was being tazed every time I tried. My laptop also crapped out which involved a bunch of googling and cursing at the blue screen of death that then turned into the black screen of death to punish me for having the audacity to think I had some level of control over technology.
After lots of acupuncture, cortisone shots, chiro, and swearing, the arm is feeling better and I'm going to try typing until it starts to hurt again.
Let's talk about fast food.
Fast food is all about convenience. It's a staple for quick work lunches, road trips and late night cravings. In general, I wasn't a fast food gal before my Celiac Diagnosis but I had my favorites. There are days that I would sell my fingernails for a Big Mac. Man, I could crush a Big Mac like a snake eats a rat. Now, reader, this is very important, don't send me a recipe for a 'gluten free' version of a Big Mac because despite your best intentions and wishing IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME! Stop now....now. When I respond to you, I will make you cry....and it will be your own fault.
We all know fast food is bad for you right? Right? It's full of fat and sugar and ground up barbie doll arms or something...I don't know. We all know that, except for the people who have sued the fast food chains because they got fat from eating there three times a day for ten years. They don't get it but we do. That being said, people still eat there and if you eat there occasionally, it most likely won't kill you. So, most people take advantage of this occasional gluttony on overly scheduled days, on road trips and any day that mom runs out of fucks.
For Celiacs, there are few options for fast food. We technically can have the chili and the baked potatoes from Wendy's, the fries from Wendy's and McDonald's, and salads at most places. I say technically here because in a perfect world, (one that doesn't have any lip plumping videos on YouTube) Celiacs can go into a fast food chain and consume these items. In reality? These foods are not prepared with Gluten Free-ness in mind. Therefore, it is entirely possible that someone accidentally dropped a bun in the chili trough and/or, someone cooked chicken tenders in the fry fryer thus making it all inedible for us Celiacs. So what do you do?
You go to Freshii that's what.
Someone told me about Freshii a while ago and I somewhat dismissed them because the thought of buying anything from somewhere that you can order and receive in minutes usually makes it non-Celiac available. However, a couple weeks ago, I gave it a shot and man was I happy about that.
I dread going to new places because I feel very uncomfortable being a pain in the ass. Maybe it's all my years as a server, ones that are peppered with memories of overly demanding customers who insisted upon the red peppers in their salad being cut at a thirty-five degree angle and yet completely square. This awful person actually exists and presumably is still out there, torturing restaurants far and wide. I don't want to be that person, and although I am gracious and charming about my food ordering, I don't know how much my attitude of gratitude makes up for my high needs.
In general, my personality rarely makes situations better. I'm not working on this as a personal goal.
I walked into the Sun Park Plaza Freshii location with the same trepidation and wide smile I always use when approaching a new restaurant, asking softly about what options they had for me. There was no need to be worried. A lot of the menu at Freshii is Gluten free and anything that isn't can be made Gluten Free. The best part is that it's no problem for them to take things out or replace them with something else, because they make everything ....wait for it...fresh. Hence the name I would assume. I amaze myself with my intellect sometimes.
You watch the Freshii staff make your items and you can revel in the care that they take to make sure that it is safe for a Celiac to eat. The Freshii manger walked me through all my options and let me take several of the sauces before deciding. I had the Mediterranean bowl with chicken added on and it was amazing. I (once again) forgot to take a picture because when I get hangry, I can't really see straight but trust me, it looked just like the picture on the menu. Like exactly. I truly loved the whole experience and I'm so grateful that I get to have a 'fast food' option that is convenient and actually good for you!
I will be visiting Freshii ALL the time now. I'll be there on days where I'm; over scheduled, over tired, overwhelmed, hung over, underfed, under medicated, cranky, drunk, out of groceries, out of patience, out of time, and out of energy which is every single Tuesday since I gave birth to the first spawn fourteen years ago. So Freshii is a welcome change for this former McBitch, now I'm just plain Bitch, which, let's be honest, is accurate.
Posted by Laurie Lyons at 21:07
Thursday, 24 May 2018
|Oh Fuck You Lady and your little apron! I love the book and the lipstick, when do moms use those things?|
Motherhood is all about decisions. Despite their appearance at being small or insignificant, these decisions can have lasting effects on your life and happiness. One wrong move Momma, and you will pay! In addition, these decisions don't follow the rules of the universe. Every action does not have an opposite and equal reaction. Fuck that. Tell a toddler that they have to wipe their face and you will NOT see an equal reaction. Every action you make as a mom could have a thousand consequences, and you have no idea which ones will leave an indelible mark on your psyche. As mothers, we have to be able to predict, run scenarios like a pro-football coach and know, with Nasa like precision, what the result will be. Think I'm being dramatic?
Here's a scenario, for you doubters. You are at a party with your family, and (God Forbid) having fun. You want to stay forty minutes later. Forty fucking minutes. Ahhhh but this will have consequences. This decision sets your mommy mind on fire. This late bed time will lead to an extra feeding for the baby in the night and an extra diaper change too, are we out of diapers? Shit, we are running low for sure. Why did I make the decision to skip Walmart on the way home yesterday? Oh yeah, because I made the decision to let the kids fall asleep in the car. Okay, so back to the forty minutes, the baby may sleep in that extra forty minutes (which, let's be fucking honest here, is fairly unlikely) or will wake up exactly eighty minutes earlier than their already stupid 5:30am wake up. They will wake up that eighty minutes early, grumpy and tired, and most likely wearing a tea towel as a diaper. That puts tomorrow's play group in danger. How am I going to get the house vacuumed so the babies don't eat the dust bunnies? If I vacuum while my grumpy baby screams, I will feel like a horrible mother but the drowning out of the sound by that point might be welcome. Oh, and crap, the laundry is sitting wet in the washer, getting moldy and gross. I forgot to change it yesterday because I was trying to figure out what we were going to eat for dinner that wasn't baby mum mums. I will have to change it over tonight when I get home but if I do, it will for sure wake the baby who (because he was put to bed forty minutes late) will sleep so lightly that a fucking butterfly farting will wake him up, if I can actually get her to sleep, which most likely I won't.
I'm not shitting you people...this is very accurate.
And it never ever stops. Decisions to ask your tween to clean her room take the consideration of a UN negotiation. What to make for dinner that they will eat, what sport to put them in, what chore to give them, should I let them play video games for three hours when they've played outside for six? I DON'T FUCKING KNOW!
I've been a mom for over fourteen years now and I can tell you that I have never, not once, gone to bed and thought 'nailed it'. Because you can't. You can't win, you can't nail it. You can't. So stop trying. What you can do is make decisions based on your gut and know that they might be the wrong decision, and that it is okay. It is totally okay to fuck up being a mom. It will be fine. Trust me.
I want you to make one, very important decision. Find some mom friends. Kind, understanding, giving mom friends who admit to fucking up being a mom, won't judge you for fucking up being a mom, and who you can laugh about those fuck ups with. I have done such a thing, I have some pretty amazing mom friends. For Mother's Day weekend, we decided to take a night away in beautiful Canmore, Alberta and dear lord, it was glorious.
The main thing about my friends, is that they truly, give a shit about my Celiacs. Sometimes more than I do! Why? Because they give a shit about me, and that's an important point about motherhood too. Find people that put you first, not always, but when it matters. On this weekend, it mattered. My girlfriends found restaurants that I could eat at, no, not just eat at, but indulge in. They made it very clear that my Celiacs was a factor and those bitches weren't going anywhere that I couldn't go. See? Good decisions right? So, we arrive Friday night and get dressed for Tapas.
Tapas is my new happy place. It feels exclusive without being snooty, feels luxuriant without feeling pompous, and holds up it's ranking on being one of the best restaurants in the province. We were greeted by Niall, a charming, unassuming, sever who, through his constant attention, made it clear that his only focus was us relaxing and enjoying each other and the incredible things that Tapas had to offer. And man did they deliver. I wanted to eat everything Gluten Free that they had to offer but, I couldn't do it. There were simply too many choices. In addition, Niall knew almost everything I could have. I had the shrimp, the olives, the duck and the beets. I know, it sounds like a lot but because of the expert pacing of the meal, I didn't even feel like I had over indulged. The meal was, in a word that moms should never use, perfection. It was brilliant. Celiacs, you must go, you must relax and you must understand that they deeply, understand your disease and how to help you forget it for the time that you are with them. For me? Tapas was the best decision I could have made.
|The Smoked Duck|
The rest of the night can not be mentioned under the fifth amendment but really, it involved a lot of wine and laughter in our jammies.
For brunch the next day, we indulged at Chez Francois that offered me gluten free Eggs Benedict. Oh my heart, it was amazing. The service was great and the mimosas were delicious, if not a little pricey.
The afternoon was spent at Rapunzel's Spa. I almost get teary eyed at the level of care and love that we were shown at Rapunzel's. Four moms who all work full time, have two children each, handle sports, and dinner, and laundry, and school volunteering, and cleaning, and groceries, and laundry (yeah, I know I said it twice, it sucks that bad), and gardening, and travel, and paperwork, and annual passes, and baseboard dusting, and vaccination schedules (vaccinate people), and every other little (and big) decision, were given three blissful hours that were without decisions. It was such a precious gift and I, more than anything, reveled in the glory of watching my mother tribe get the spoiling, they so much deserved.
Dinner on Saturday was at the Hogshead on Canmore's main street. We somewhat stumbled across it as we were wandering around in the afternoon and we couldn't be happier with this choice. My friend Karin looked at the menu posted outside and noticed that they had Care Bakery flatbread and, because she is a part of my Mom tribe, knew that I have a special place in my gluten free soul for Care Bakery products. We went back there after the spa, all shiny faced and weak-limbed and we were served by the charming Alex. She knew her gluten free stuff and made sure my food was safe and my wine kept flowing. This final meal kept the indulgence alive with Duck Fat Fries (yeah that's right, duck fat). I crushed the Alberta Meat Flatbread on the amazing Care Bakery dough and could not have been more content if I tried.
|My Alberta Meat Flatbread|
(Note that I had started eating when one of my friends reminded me to take a pic for this blog. These bitches have your backs too people!)
Our Mommy trip to Canmore was an indulgence for sure, especially for this Celiac. I have a hard time putting myself first. Sometimes it's because I'm a Mom and sometimes because I feel very uncomfortable when my Celiacs effects those around me. The thing that made it all the better was making the decision to allow myself to put me first and to allow my friends to put my Celiacs first.
It must be said here, that we did not leave our children alone with a bucket of chicken, to survive without us. We left our kids with our competent, amazing, husbands. These guys step up everyday and make our mommy lives infinitely easier and happier. There wasn't an inch of guilt or bitching from the men in our lives about us taking the weekend, because we made good decisions there too. Thanks to our baby daddy's. We love you. As an extra bonus, this is going to be an annual tradition so you never have to think of another Mother's Day gift, ever. You...are....welcome.
I've made some really horrible decisions as a mom, and I'm going to do it again, and again, and again. That's okay. life is about mistakes, not about perfection. I am so proud of my Mother's Day decision to put myself and my mom tribe first so that we were in a better place to make mom decisions and fuck up in the year to come.
There is no winning in motherhood, but our trip to Canmore was as close to that as you could get.
Posted by Laurie Lyons at 15:11
Saturday, 24 February 2018
|I stopped eating long enough for a picture. |
Please ignore the sheen of butter on my chin.
So, my husband suggested we go for all you can eat crab and ribs at Bookers BBQ and Crab Shack because he knows I love eating shellfish with buckets of butter and a bunch of wine. If you would like to see the tumultuous history of my love/hate relationship with crustaceans, click here .
Bookers has been in Calgary for about twenty years and it's shocking that Trev and I haven't made it there yet. It's located at the edge of downtown, near the river in a historic, hundred year old building. We booked through Open Table which is great because it has a spot to warn them that an annoying Celiac will be coming to ruin their shift. Trev also called ahead of time and felt very confident that they were on the ball.
The restaurant has a pub/sports bar feel so it's cozy and warm. We were a little bit early for our reso but they had no problem slipping us into a booth. We were immediately greeted by Karen, our server who was very knowledgeable about what Gluten Free items were available. There were a lot of options on the menu and I was happy to see it. However, I didn't go there to eat a burger. I wore stretch pants and a top I was willing to ruin with butter splatter so I could eat the shit out of some crab.
|Is there anything that says 'love' more than this?|
Note: Trevor's drink is in the picture because I wouldn't put down my wine glass.
The All You Can Eat dinner was $56.95 per person and this changes according to the current market value. It includes unlimited ribs, sides and (of course) crab legs. We had the coleslaw for a side and it was awesome. Trev started with the ribs but I was all crab all day. He said the ribs were great and although I could have them, I wanted to leave maximum room for crab. After we ordered, the General Manager, Falyn dropped by the table and made sure I knew what BBQ sauces I could and could not have. She even gave us a history of the restaurant and the story of the original owner and his daughter which is also a story of love.
Soon after that, and by soon I mean that I drank a glass of pino grigio, so like four minutes or so. Our first order of crab and ribs showed up. The next two hours is a blur of shells, butter and laughter as Trev and I celebrated our love with the least sexy meal you can eat. It's so us. At one point, a hunk of crab fell down the front of my shirt into my tiny push up bra. We both looked down, looked at each other, shrugged and muttered 'get it later'. This is true love people.
|The carnage of love.|
Karen kept the crab and wine coming and didn't even judge me when I asked for my fifth round (yes...of both). She was charming and professional and made the experience so much better. She's a better person than I am, I SO would have made fun of me. The crab legs were a great size and each order came hot and often.
It's a total travesty that Trev and I have not been to Bookers BBQ and Crab Shack before now but I promise you, it's now on my list of loves. So brace yourself Bookers and ramp up the crab inventory, this Celiac will be back to shame eat herself into a coma very soon!
Posted by Laurie Lyons at 10:11
Sunday, 7 January 2018
Let's offend people shall we?
It has become apparent to me over the past few months that I have not been invited to events because of my Celiac Disease.
At first, I disregarded this issue as sheer self involvement. I quieted my inner Trump-like baby voice by reminding myself that it isn't always about me, (and, for good measure, I reminded myself that climate change is a thing because...science).
But quickly, the little voice of hmmm, that's strange, turned into, what the actual fuck? As I have noticed more and more facebook updates, instagram posts, and hearing stories of activities that I was not included in, that I am being excluded. These are events and activities where friends have gotten together at restaurants, had dinners, and enjoyed time together. Friends that I would certainly invite if I had such an event.
I know what you are thinking, Laurie dear, is it possible that you are just an asshole and no one likes you? Indeed, this is certainly possible, because as we all know, I am an asshole and frankly, don't care if someone doesn't like me. However, might I point out that on other occasions, and over many years, I have spent quality time with these people and they often seek out my company when something isn't involved. That something is food.
I've discovered through masterful levels of detective work, plying people with booze and threatening their lives, that I am not invited to these events because people often find it stressful and/or time consuming to serve me or find somewhere I can eat.
This hit me like a truck. It was a shock and to be honest, I'm kind of hurt. No, I'm really hurt. However, I must look inward at what I have done to bring this on for myself. After self reflecting on my own bullshit, I have to examine that, through this blog and other conversations I have had with people, that I have given the impression that there are requirements for hosting me. This was my mistake and for that I apologize.
The posts I have done on hosting Celiacs, cooking for Celiacs, and eating out with Celiacs, are for information purposes only. They are not demands! For fucks sakes, of COURSE I'm not making demands or insisting that the world cater to my bullshit disease, that would be incredibly selfish of me. However, reading back over my posts and thinking back over conversations, I can see how you could misinterpret my intentions. Please, please, I am begging you here, do not think that I insist upon you feeling put out, overwhelmed, (or even shittier) resentful, that you have to host me and therefore, avoid doing so to reroute any feelings of fear, or inadequacies.
It makes me sad that people feel like this.
As I've written before, I often think about my Grandma's now infamous line when she visited people and they immediately apologized for the state of their house, and/or calibre of their meals/offerings. She would smile and say clearly, "If I came to see your house, dear, I would come when you weren't here."
I remember Grandma Teresa saying this when I was young, too young to fully understand the impact of it. Now, as an all grown up Mom (who still doesn't understand what a pension is or how taxes work), I GET what she was trying to say. It was her way of politely saying, I came here to see you dumbass, not to judge you. YOU are the important thing, not your dust, your mess, your carpets, your food, your snacks...you. And really, that's the most validating, loving thing, you can say to another human being. It's not what you offer me that matters to me, I'm just happy to be with you. How beautiful is that thought?
And that's how I feel. I am always, just happy to be with you, not your food...you. I know this is hard for people to wrap their heads around because so much of our culture is centered around food. No one, and I mean no one, has an event without food. Shit, even the criminals on that 'Lock Up' show create meals for other inmates out of noodle bowls, tampons, and toilet water so they won't get shanked in the showers. Food is a major component to our society. We celebrate with food, converse with food, watch TV shows with food. For fucksakes, we even mourn with food. When someone dies, what do you do? You run to the kitchen and make a casserole, that's what you do! Even if you hated the dead person, you make the fucking casserole, because that's who we are as a society.
I completely understand. I am a fully integrated member of the 'serve your guest' cult. I get all squirmy and itchy when people refuse any service item in my home. What? You want nothing? Not even a glass of water? REALLY? Nothing? It gives me the willies and I immediately start thinking that the person has been invaded by the body snatchers.
I completely understand your desire to provide me with food and drink and strippers and anything else that I want to feel at home. However, for Celiacs, it stops being about the food. It stops being about what's on the table and more about who's at the table.
I get it, it's hard to feed me.
So here is a crazy thought.
Don't feed me, don't try, don't do it if it's going to cause you to wish I wasn't there. Don't do it if it means that you don't want to invite me. Please.
This disease is rotten enough without feeling like I'm excluded.
I know that there are places I can't eat at, invite me anyway. I know that there are times when you make a giant meal and would love to have my family but you don't want to go to the cost and the effort of making it Gluten free, invite us anyway. Please. Don't exclude me (or dear lord, exclude my children from enjoying a delightful, warm meal) because of my Celiacs. Just invite us. Tell me ahead of time that there will be Gluten in everything. I will bring my own food, I will eat the plain chips and the veggie tray and I will revel in the glory and joy of spending time with you.
So please, I beg of you, invite me to the restaurant I can't eat at, invite me to your dinner and gluten the shit out of it, invite me to everything because my Celiacs is MY problem, not yours. Let me be clear, I'm not pointing fingers or being passive aggressive. Don't apologize or make a big deal about it, just please start inviting me to anything you would like me to go to, and forget about feeding me. If you don't actually want me there? That's okay too, because sometimes I'm an asshole and not everyone is going to like me and I don't particularly give a shit. I am who I am and if you don't like me, that's not my problem, it's yours. Grandma taught me that too.
But if you want me there and my Celiac disease is holding you back? Please invite me anyway because I notice when you don't and it hurts my feelings.
Remember, I spend time with you because I love you, not for what you can offer me.
Posted by Laurie Lyons at 14:33
Sunday, 29 October 2017
|Every wonder why the Cheerios Kid pants are brown?|
Ah Cheerios, the staple of a childhood breakfast. I have a love/hate relationship with these little Os. While I remember them clearly from my childhood, sitting with my sister on Saturday mornings, watching Bugs Bunny cartoons and jamming as many of these little nuggets of crunch in my face as possible, milk dripping down my chins to be wiped by my Strawberry Shortcake nightie. Fast forward twenty five years and I'm cursing the little bastards as I drag them, wet and sticky, from between the cracks of my toddler's car seat.
Since my diagnosis, (of Celiacs, not the other diagnosis, that psychologist/FBI Profiler had NO idea what they were talking about), one thing that I missed a lot was my favorite cereals. Since childhood, I rarely ate cereal at actual breakfast time. It was always an afternoon snack, or a drunk late-night meal where I still dripped milk down my chin and wiped it up with my Strawberry Shortcake nightie.
There are LOTS of Gluten Free cereals out there but they lack the sugary, crunchy, bad for you and in no way a part of a balanced breakfast, allure that traditional cereals hold. No one was more happy to see Gluten Free Rice Crispies than me. I did a very embarrassing, Balky Bartokomous style dance in Walmart. Or so my children say, I was drunk with joy, and a lot of vodka. Lots of common cereals have come up with Gluten Free versions of themselves and I appreciate it, I do. One has to wonder though, HOW Gluten Free are they?
The US Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency say that anything under 20 Parts Per Million of Gluten can be labeled 'Gluten Free'. Which is awesome. This is the level for which the smart doctory types have determined that we Celiacs can eat a food and not want to die afterwards. All these cereal companies have to adhere to these guidelines prior to labeling an item 'Gluten Free'. The Government has done a great job setting a standard and holding companies to it through testing.
Here is the problem that Cherrios is facing. Oats themselves are Gluten Free on their own. I could run through a field of oats and eat them like a deranged cow in heat. However, Oats aren't the only thing a farmer grows. Farmers rotate their crops in their fields and they often (usually) use the same equipment to harvest and process these crops for sale. Which of course they should, have you ever seen a combine? Those things are right out of a fucking Transformer Movie.
|SOMEONE IS DRIVING THIS THING|
So the oats (which are Gluten Free) are being harvested and processed on the same equipment as the wheat and the barley and the rye. So now the oats are cross contaminated and no longer gluten free. Then, the oats get to the cereal factory where they are made into the little Os on machinery that has just made other cereals that contain gluten, so now they are cross contaminated again.
|COULD YOU IMAGINE TRYING TO CLEAN THIS THING?|
This is why we can't have nice things.
It's no ones fault, its just the way things are.
So, this is kind of how it went down. I always imagine this as a text...because I'm an odd woman.
GM : Don't worry, all traces of cross contamination are removed at the farm level.
CELIACS: Can you prove that?
GM: Trust us...
CELIACS: Well, it's kind of important that we know for sure. Can you prove that there is no cross contamination at the factory level?
GM: We tested. A whole bunch. We tested bigly, with lots of important testing stuff. It’s all very technical, you wouldn’t understand.
CELIACS: Try me.
GM: It would be a waste of time. You really wouldn’t understand.
CANADIAN FOOD INSPECTION AGENCY: We would understand.
GM: Oh...Hey CFIA, how's it goin? I didn't know this was a group text.
CIFA: Yup, we are here too and we would like to see your testing results and procedures please.
GM: Gotta go, my mom's calling and I have to do my chores.
GM has left the group
So do I think that GM was being cagey? No, I doubt it, I think they have a lot of shit on their plate (or in their bowl, so to speak...get it?) because they are kind of busy feeding millions of people and they have tried their best to feed the Celiacs but they really couldn't guarantee anything. In a recent article by CBC, General Mills has been requested to remove the Gluten Free label from their boxes in Canada.
Now, have I tried the Gluten Free Cherrios? Your're damn right I did and they were delicious. However, they didn't sit right with me. I kinda felt like I had eaten at an all you can eat Chinese Buffet...that kind of feeling. Maybe it was because my body isn't used to having oats at all, or maybe it's because my cereal box was a 'hot spot', which is how it felt later in the bathroom, trust me. So I haven't been eating them and losing the Gluten Free label on Cheerios is not a big loss for me.
There you go, a little science, a little PR and a little bit of diarrhea. I consider this post a win.
Posted by Laurie Lyons at 09:34
Friday, 21 July 2017
|No Food For You! Go Starve..|
All right, all right, all right....here we go. This post is going to ruffle some feathers and we are all just going to have to ride this wave together okay? This issue has been stuck in my craw for a long while and although I've touched on it a bit in past posts and in public appearances, I feel like it's time to hit it head on. Brace yourself bitches, we are going in.
Currently, I am sitting on my couch, with a glass of wine sitting coolly beside me, my belly is uber full of gluten free pizza (more on this later, this is a full circle post), I'm binge watching Shameless, and the spawn and my handsome partner in crime are up at the trailer and I have the house to myself. By all accounts, I should be as content as I can be.
Yet, I'm irritated and we have to talk about why. Why? Because it's my blog and my opinion, that's why.
Mature reading only here folks, not only have I had a glass of wine but as stated previously, I'm watching Shameless and the curses are going to flow like the River Nile.
It is a simple request, yet steeped in controversy and trouble.
IF A RESTAURANT IS GOING TO OFFER GLUTEN FREE FOOD, YOU NEED TO FUCKING OFFER ACTUAL GLUTEN FREE FOOD!
Simple right? And you'd think it is a no brainer, but, dear Gluten Eater, you are wrong.
This is what happened today.
I have a wicked awesome job where I get to work with some wicked awesome people and we have a wicked awesome boss. Our boss paid for all of us to attend a fantastic conference/info session from 8 to 5 today at a conference centre in Calgary's North East where we learned so much and loved it all. I got to take a nice long car ride with two work gals where we laughed and caught up. When we arrived at the hotel, the group decided to go to the The Toad and Turtle Pub for our upcoming lunch break. I secretly and immediately goggled said pub and discovered to my glee that they had a Gluten Free Menu (a rarity for a pub I assure you). When lunch came around we all jay walked (we were worried about the jaywalking, no shit) over and grabbed a table.
I requested a Gluten Free Menu and asked about Celiac awareness. The look on the server's face sent a chill through my bones. She'd look more confident if someone had just asked her to perform open heart surgery. After receiving the Gluten Free Menu, I asked the server again about cross contamination and if the cooks felt comfortable preparing my meal with a high level of care. Again, she looked both terrified and confused. This was going downhill fast and now I'm embarrassed and feel like a jerk. I don't like that I have Celiacs. It's the thing about myself that I struggle with the most, other than my penchant for running over loose cats (kidding, calm down Shelby) but I really dread every experience like this and it just got worse from there.
Several minutes later, (please note that we only had an hour for lunch), a manager came to the table and informed me that since I had Celiacs Disease, she tells all Celiacs that, "another kitchen might be better for me." This is a direct quote.
Now, let me be clear here, I deeply appreciate her honestly. I really do and I told her so. I would much rather she turn me away rather than do a shitty job feeding me and make me sick while I had to sit at in a conference room far from home AKA sit in the bathroom vomiting and sobbing in pain.
However, I wonder, beyond all wonderings, WHY OH WHY, couldn't they make me food?
After this conversation, I stayed a few minutes to finish my pepsi and left shortly after to sit in the lobby of the hotel, hungry because I certainly wasn't gong to sit and watch every one else eat. No... can't do it. As much as I love and respect my work colleagues, I could not sit there and watch them eat their lunch.
All Celiacs right now are yelling at their screen, "Laurie, you jackass, why didn't you bring food? We ALWAYS bring food, it's our thing, our gig, our secret to the universe. We bring food where ever we go. You KNOW this." And I say to you all, I DID have food bitches. I did. But I had a apple and some almonds and after sitting in a restaurant with the aroma of hot, fresh, delicious food wafting about, I can tell you, that apple looked about as appetizing as a piece of coal but I ate it, for sheer nourishment while my work friends sat at a cozy table digging into a satisfying lunch. I ended up liberating some peanut butter packs from the left over breakfast table and ate them with a coffee stir stick. True story, no shit, this is who I have become as a person.
So, I've been thinking back to that lunch all day and like most writers, once something gets in this chaotic mess I call a brain, I can't let it go.
So let's talk about the Gluten Free Menu shall we?
Who the fuck do you have a Gluten Free Menu for if it isn't for people who can't eat Gluten? Who? Who?
What kind of evil game are you playing here?
So, after years in the restaurant industry, and might I add, having the deepest respect for back of house, front of house and everyone in between, I want this shit broken down. Because everywhere I've worked at, could have made me something to eat and they would have given enough of a shit to make it happen.
So let's examine shall we?
Why couldn't the Toad and Turtle Barlow feed me today?
REASON NUMBER ONE: LAZINESS
In order to feed someone Gluten Free Food you have to make absolutely sure that their food does not touch (by hand or by utensil or by pan) anything that contains gluten. I completely understand that this is a tall order. It means someone has to be pulled off the line to exclusively make my meal. They have to pull fresh ingredients from the cooler, they have to pull a fresh bowl, clean tongs, clean pan, new gloves, possibly a new apron if they have been dredging wings in flour. They have to pull my plate either fresh from dish or from the bottom of the plate pile to make sure it hasn't touched anything else. Yep....that sucks. I get it, please don't think I don't appreciate the effort kitchens take to feed me. This is evident in my previous posts. However, your job is customer service and, like it or not, I am a customer. Agreed, a pain in the ass one, but a customer all the same. It is done. All the time, at Moxies and Earls and countless other restaurants who have agreed that my dollar is just as valuable as the next guy. Remember too, that I tip excessively for the privilege of you making my meal safe. I tip servers a lot and I have walked back and handed a fistful of bills to the cook who made my food, and looked him in the eye and thanked him from the bottom of my heart, I am not a waste of time, I assure you.
And before you start....
Please don't try to tell me that you were "too busy" to ensure the safety of my food. I did a quick count (and trust me, I can do a table/labor count) and you had 14 seated tables in the restaurant with 5 servers and two floor managers. That means that your kitchen should have had no less than 5 white coats on line (in addition to the two or three in the back on prep alone, because it's Friday and I know my shit) and because it was a Friday afternoon, I would bet my bottom dollar that your head chef was in the house if only to ensure a smooth Friday Happy Hour. So maybe SHE knew how to prepare my meal but everyone was too lazy to get her. Maybe she didn't know how to make a Gluten Free meal, thus we go to....
REASON NUMBER TWO: LACK OF TRAINING
Possible. Totally fucking ridiculous, but possible. The MOMENT you put a Gluten Free menu on your rack, you MUST TRAIN YOUR STAFF TO UNDERSTAND AND BE ABLE TO PREPARE A GLUTEN FREE MEAL.That means a meal that is FREE of GLUTEN. Plain and simple. Celiacs is a fucking disease and it's effects on it's sufferers is long and deep and to just sit back and say "well, we just don't know." is bullshit. Get educated. Get informed. Train your fucking staff so they know what to do and you don't have to send away paying customers. Do better. Be better. Rock that shit. Do not offer Gluten Free Food and then refuse to serve a Celiac. It's the most ironic, foolish thing I have ever heard. This is the equivalent of advertising a "Peanut Free Menu" but then stating, "Not for Peanut Allergies." What the actual fuck? What is the point? Spend the money, spend the time, take the initiative.
Let's be clear, this restaurant didn't just have random items on their menu that are Gluten Free by default. They had Gluten Free Buns and Gluten Free Breads and Gluten Free Pizza crusts. Now, I know the places in Calgary that make these items and I KNOW that they are Celiac friendly and I fucking KNOW that when you signed your contract with them, they advised you and trained you on how to prepare their breads without any cross contamination. THEIR PRODUCTS ARE MADE FOR CELIACS AND FOR YOU TO IGNORE THEIR WELL EDUCATED TEACHINGS ON HOW TO PREPARE THEIR PRODUCTS FOR CELIACS IS RIDICULOUS. For you to not continuously train your overturn staff on these policies is nothing more than laziness (see number 1).
REASON NUMBER THREE: THE GLUTEN FREE MENU ISN'T FOR CELIACS
The Gluten Free Menu isn't for Celiacs, it's for people who are Gluten Sensitive or people that choose a Gluten Free Lifestyle. Oh lord, let's all take a breath here. To say that a Gluten Free Menu isn't for Celiacs is like saying the wheelchair ramp is only for people on crutches or people who don't like stairs. Why don't just have an "Onion Free" menu for people who don't like onions but then make it clear that you might still get onions? Let's have a menu for people who are avoiding red meat because their wife read a facebook article that said it was bad but THEN tell the customer that you aren't willing to take ANY extra time to make sure that a hunk of sirloin doesn't make it onto his plate. Oh wait, that would be fucking stupid. And here's a big fucking shocker to all of you....BRACE YOURSELF... people who are Gluten Sensitive, can't eat any more Gluten than a Celiac. They have been told by a medical doctor that they can not eat Gluten, so stop calling your menu's Gluten Sensitive and then not ensuring that it is indeed, Gluten Free. Stop it. Now.
The Toad and Turtle calls their menu Gluten Free. Which it isn't. Well, maybe the items themselves are but they aren't willing to take any extra time to prepare it so it remains Gluten Free until you eat it so tough shit on you people who can't eat Gluten. Our Gluten Free Menu isn't for you, as bizarre and stupid as that sounds. Go ahead and leave.
Again, this is not the managers' or the servers' or the cooks' fault. They work their asses off and they only do what they are told. Who knows, maybe the head chef told the manager to turn me away today, maybe. I will never know. The staff was not trained to serve someone who needs to eat Gluten Free food off their Gluten Free menu so I don't want them to come into any shit for this, seriously, don't do it. Just train them, step it up. Do better. Be better.
If you want to have a Gluten Free Menu, my God, I applaud you, I am grateful for you, just don't suck at it.
That was the thorns, now for the roses. I, in general, avoid pubs and would not have wasted my time jaywalking to the Toad and Turtle unless they had advertised a Gluten Free menu. I would have taken a cab over to Earls and eaten there but by the time the 'Eat somewhere else' comment got made, there was no time for me to make an Earls meal happen, much to my regret.
My belly is full of Gluten Free Pizza because on our long arduous journey down Deerfoot Trail during rush hour, I called the only pub I eat at. The Bull and Finch in Bridlewood. They have lots of Gluten Free options but the best is the pizza. I told them on the phone that I had Celiacs, I ordered my pizza and swung by on my way home to grab it. Upon picking it up, I was assured by the bartender (who had a full house by the way), that it was totally Gluten Free and he was kind and fantastic. I have eaten at the Bull and Finch numerous times and have NEVER been burned, which is a feather in their finch, or in the Bull's cap. Do bulls wear caps? Maybe on fancy days like weddings or branding days, who knows. Stop getting off topic!
The Bull and Finch GETS Celiacs, has Gluten Free Food and trains their staff on how to handle it. They had a full house when I picked up my food but had all the time in the world to make sure I knew that the food they advertised as gluten free, was indeed free of gluten. That's why they got my money today, and will continue to get my money for as long as they will take my pain in the ass order because they get it. They get that once you win a customer over, they are yours for life. They also get, that no one is louder and more obnoxious than a pissed off customer.
Take a lesson from the Bull and Finch, Toad and Turtle, do it right, or stay in your lane.
Respectful comments and emails welcome. Feel free to swear, but be assured, personally insulting me for my opinion makes you look like a small minded douche. Arguing with me is fine, however futile....because I'm right.
Posted by Laurie Lyons at 20:43
Tuesday, 18 July 2017
|No my dear! This apple is fine! No Gluten here! No poison!|
Eat it! Eat it! BITCH, EAT THE APPLE!
I have been using the Superstore Click and Collect service for several months and it has been a game changer. You pick all your groceries online and then drive to the store and pick it all up from a swanky parking spot. I freaking love it. It has opened up so much extra time for me, time that I have spent drunk on Pintrest, which I'm sure you agree is vital. In general, the service has been great and the people who work there have been amazing.
We had an incident on Monday though and it was a result of a "Butterfly Effect" type of situation. The Butterfly Effect is a weird movie from 2004 that you think you understand and then you realize that you are stupid. Basically, the theory is that one little thing (the flapping of a butterfly wing) can set off a chain reaction that eventually leads to catastrophe (a hurricane) on the other side of the world. Anyone who has been in a car accident has thought about this theory. If you had left 3 seconds earlier, if you hadn't liked the song on the radio and wasn't singing at the top of your lungs, and further, if the DJ had not been feeling nostalgic that day and not chosen that particular song, if the other driver had remembered to bring a snack for her kids and then they wouldn't have been screaming in the backseat causing her to be distracted. If ANY these things had happened differently, you wouldn't have collided with that woman's minivan on the way home from work.
This glutenizing was kind of like that. I had ordered the gluten free version of the Club House Brown Gravy, which is awesome by the way, and instead, received the NON gluten free version. I made the gravy, ate the gravy and within moments, knew something was wrong. We checked the package and low and behold, not gluten free. FUCK!
So, there was this little window of time I had during which we planned out the next twenty four hours while I was still able to function. Since the spawn are on summer vacation, plans needed to be cancelled, the sheets on the bed were changed because I would now spend all my time there, the dishes were done quickly so husband could focus on me and nothing else for the next seven hours. Heating pads were charged up for the cramps, cold cloths prepared for the splitting headache and the bathroom deemed off limits for the vomiting and ...well...you know. God Bless my husband and our spawn for their extreme support and dedication to me during times like this. I don't like being sick, I get really cranky and weepy and they handle it all with ease and care.
And during all this flurry of activity, I went through my own little butterfly effect list. What if the worker doing the shopping had paid closer attention and why didn't they? Had she just stubbed her toe so she was thinking of the agonizing pain rather than reading the label? And before that, what if the guy who stocked the shelves hadn't been lazy, leaving that box in the middle of the floor so she stubbed her toe? What if I hadn't been on the phone when I went to pick up the order and had noticed when we were loading the groceries into the trunk? What if I had made that phone call later in the day or that when I called, the person had decided to take their dog for a walk and didn't answer? What if I hadn't been chatting with hubby while making dinner and I happened to notice the label? What if he had left work 20 min later so he wasn't home while I was making the gravy and didn't distract me with his charm and good looks?
Ultimately though, there is no point going through the Butterfly Effect because you can only suck it up. Suck it up hard bitches.
I was sick sick sick for a full 24 hours and then feeling like a hung over bag of shit for two days after that. I try to take a lesson from every glutenizing, and the lesson here is:
A) Having Celiacs fucking sucks
B) Don't trust anyone else to read a label that you should read yourself because they might have just stubbed their toe
C) Read every label, every time.
D) Sometimes fate is not in your favor and that has to be okay
We wrote a letter to Click and Collect and I was shocked to receive a phone call from the store manager Cheryl. She was completely apologetic and really kind about the whole thing. I honestly half expected some sort of, "we can't guarantee...blah blah" bullshit but she took full responsibility for the whole thing. She made it clear that she had dealt with the employee directly and had given retraining on the issue. She even took it a step further and has contacted the Club House company to talk about how similar the two packages look and how hard it might be for anyone to tell them apart when shopping.
|Gluten Free Version|
Look at these two packages! Seriously, they couldn't make them more alike if they tried!
Cheryl even discussed the placement of the boxes on the shelves with her team and has moved them around to make it easier to tell them apart. I was blow away and am now a dedicated customer.
So bottom line, poisonings happen bitches...whether it's your fault or another person's fault or the Butterfly Effect of fate at play but it's just a part of having this disease.
It's hard to suck it up but tough shit Celiac....suck it up.
PS A HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR FRIENDS KARIN AND GLENN FOR TAKING MY CHILDREN FOR THE ENTIRE NEXT DAY SO I COULD SLEEP AND FEEL SORRY FOR MYSELF IN PRIVATE. BLESS YOUR HEARTS.
Posted by Laurie Lyons at 13:50