Friday 30 January 2015

Thank you NASCAR

A reader emailed me asking me to respond to the NASCAR ad that will play at the Superbowl. If you would like to see it, watch it HERE.

I also know that lots of other Celiacs are blogging about this issue. One of my favorites, Gluten Dude, has posted an ARTICLE about having the ad pulled. I usually agree with Gluten Dude because he is the guru of Celiacs, but on this one, I have to respectfully disagree.

I think Ron Swansen did us a favor.

He wasn't talking about Celiacs. He isn't making fun of Celiacs. I think he is talking about all the morons in the world who have gotten it into their heads through whatever Pintrest article they read that says that gluten is bad for everyone.

I think he is making fun of them, not us.

Thank you NASCAR. 

(There's a sentence I never thought I would type. Included on this list is, 'I bought new gun rack with the money I earned stripping.')

I think people who don't eat gluten because they think it will make them skinny or smart or have blonder hair or be better at croquet, or whatever the reason of the month is, are soft. I think they are whiners. I think that George Washington would think they are idiots.

And yes, those whiners eat from the same restaurants that I do and yes, they are the reason that a manager said to me, "Don't worry, there was only a little bit of flour in it." Those whiners should be made fun of, mocked, ridiculed and then maybe they would stop doing it. NASCAR just called them out. They pointed at them and publicly called them names. I think they did us a favor.

As far as I'm concerned, the less that Lyndsay Lohan pretends to have my disease, the better it is for me.

Celiac fakers are stunting the gluten education curve more than any Superbowl ad could.

NASCAR didn't say anything about Celiacs and I think we are getting a little sensitive on this issue. I think we, as a community, need to build a thicker skin on this. Anytime someone puts their two cents in about gluten, we all stand up and scream fowl.

Celiacs aren't soft and NASCAR isn't saying we are.

Don't get me wrong, if they had said the word Celiacs, this would have been a very different post. It would have been a lot longer and had a great deal of unladylike language in it.

Making fun of people with a disease is not okay, making fun of self righteous liars is always okay and honestly, that's what I think is going on here.


Entertaining side note: Canada doesn't get American commercials during the Superbowl. We have never figured this mystery out. We get all your other commercials during all other TV shows, causing us to get excited about all the cool stuff you have only to realize that we can't get it. Can anyone say Chipoltle? But NEVER during the Superbowl.

Monday 19 January 2015

An Open Letter to Restaurants with a Gluten Free Menu

An Open Letter to Restaurants Who have a Gluten Free Menu,

Or Gluten Friendly or Gluten Easy or Gluten Sensitive menu or whatever your lawyers wanted you to call it so you wouldn't get sued.

I have Celiac Disease and I'm sorry about that.

I know that sucks for you. I know that it used to suck for me when I was a server and a manager at various restaurants over 20 years - insert obligatory Flintstone joke here..... It's annoying. It's tedious and at times, it feels like a total waste of your labor (and certainly, food) costs. I know that some of you think, I am, at the very least, being dramatic and at the most, a complete raving hypochondriac.

I know some of you think it's fake.

I know you hate it when I come in.

But, and trust me on this one, I hate this disease more than you do.

I hate the way the servers roll their eyes at me. I hate the way the new shift manager, who is barely out of diapers, saunters up to my table, (reeking of Axe Body spray) assuring me that my meal will be gluten free. I know for a fact, that this kid has never been in the store at 8am to witness the prep team do their work, doesn't know who your suppliers are, and certainly has never put on a set of whites and watched anything be prepared on the heat of the line. I hate dealing with him and his 'I know my shit' attitude because he doesn't know his shit and it terrifies me that I am getting the same 'trust me' line that he gives to the rookie hostesses just before he tucks them into his mom's Corolla. I hate telling every staff member who approaches our table that I have Celiacs, prompting everyone eating with us to have a long and involved discussion about my intestinal health.

I hate talking about my disease more than you hate cooking for it.

And here's the thing. I, unlike some of my Celiac compadres, completely understand cross contamination. I know that on a Friday night, asking you to wash your tongs repeatedly or change your gloves, or deal with my meal when you have 57 open tables seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I understand how much of a challenge my food is to cook and therefore, I am ALWAYS prepared for cross contamination. I know that it might happen, not because your BOH staff are lazy shits but because they are busy. They are busier than most employed people are on any given day of their careers. They are so busy that they want to punch their accountant friends in the face when they claim to be 'swamped' at work. You don't know 'swamped' until Mother Day Brunch.

I understand cross contamination so don't insult me by explaining it to me again.

What I don't understand is a restaurant not educating your staff on what gluten is and what foods it is in and what foods it is not in. I don't understand the times when I have ordered something off of your gluten free menu, checked with the server, who checked with the manager, who had the sous chef expo the food to then be served something WITH flour in it. I am willing to risk my gluten free bun touching a regular bun in the craziness of the rush but I will never understand having a glutened item on your gluten free menu. This is completely unacceptable and irresponsible.

I don't expect a Celiac Association stamp of approval meal, I expect, at the bare minimum, one without flour in it. I expect you to know that the tiniest bit of flour makes me very ill. I expect you to understand that there is no such thing as 'a little bit of poison' to you and therefore, no such thing as 'a little bit of flour' to me.

I expect your servers to know the ingredients of the food they are serving. I expect cooks to know that gluten is not a germ nor can it be killed by wrapping the food in plastic wrap for ten seconds.

These are my expectations and I don't think that they are unreasonable. By opening a restaurant, you have agreed to serve the general public and like it or not, I am a member of the general public.

I don't expect you to be experts on my disease, but I expect you to be able to serve me food without flour in it. I expect you to educate your staff on what foods those are. I expect you to have a process in place for handling Celiac food and I expect you to follow that one hundred percent of the time.

I expect this much like a person with a peanut allergy expects to eat something without peanuts in it. Because like it or not....that is how serious Celiac Disease is. Just because I don't have an epi pen, and don't react right away, doesn't mean it's not serious.

I know that Miley Cyrus and the rest of the Hollywood idiots have turned my disease into a joke. The Atkins of the decade. I know that confuses things and if I had a magic wish and  by some cruel twist of fate, was no allowed to wish away my Celiac Disease, I would force everyone who can eat gluten to start eating gluten again. But I can't. So I am leaving it to you, good servers and managers and back of house staff to sort through it all.

I know it's a lot to ask. On a night when you are completely in the weeds and two bartenders are late (and - let's be honest, possibly high), your bussers don't understand the word 'bussing', your lounge servers were just sexually harassed by a skeevy regular and the line just informed you that you are out of fries. FRIES. I come in and start asking questions about your Gluten Free menu.

I hear you. I get it.

And dear God, please know that I am so sorry that you have to deal with this garbage disease with me.

I want to thank you for taking the time you do to make my meal safe. I know it's not always perfect but I truly hope you will try your best.

As a matter of fact, I'm counting on it.

With great respect and a high tip percentage,
I am...
A Freaking Celiac

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Cheeky Monkey

Our adventures in Halifax continue. Don't worry Haligonians, I am only here until August so you won't have to put up with my 'aggressive' driving forever. 'Aggressive' here meaning, 'driving the speed limit on a dry sunny day'.

Did you know I used to be a flight attendant? Fact. I was a very good flight attendant but I wasn't allowed to drink on the job so I had to leave and become a stay at home mom and writer instead. These are both jobs which require huge amounts of booze to function properly. I do, however, still know a lot of flight attendants and one of the bonuses of knowing a lot of flight attendants and living in a city far from home is that they can come and visit.

Case in point, Friday night, our friend Marlaine came into Halifax to visit. She is a flight attendant, but Trevor went to high school with her so we have known her for years. She's also in Roller Derby and convinced me to try it when I get back to Calgary. Trevor is hesitant of this plan. I can't imagine why.

We decided to go to The Wooden Monkey, a restaurant in downtown Halifax that focuses on locally grown, organic food. It's menu even has notifiers for meals that are Celiac safe. Think about that. CELIAC safe. Not just 'Gluten Friendly' or 'Gluten Aware' or 'It's Complicated' which is what is on Gluten's facebook page. That's because Gluten is an indecisive whore if you ask me.

The Wooden Monkey actually uses the word Celiac, which is awesome. The only bad thing about it is that I couldn't decide. Usually, I only have about 2 choices on a menu and one of them is always green salad. To be given so many choices was almost overwhelming. I know how Heidi Klum feels in a Victoria Secret now. It was dizzying.
Every single entree was gluten free. PS I suck bags at taking pictures.

I finally decided on the Scallop Pasta. It was fantastic. Like really awesome. The pasta was tender and it didn't have that creepy starchy taste that a lot of GF pastas do. The scallops were good. The sauce was a nice texture and full of flavor. My only disappointment was that I asked if I could have some kind of garlic toast or something because I knew they had GF bread but after checking, the server said that she would have to serve it as a GF bun with butter on the side and garlic in a bowl on the side as well. I thought this odd considering that they served GF burgers and sandwiches that they couldn't butter a bun to go with a plate of pasta. For dessert, they have a tofu chocolate pie which was to die for and I usually despise tofu.
Celiac Safe Scallop Pasta

Service was okay, she was sweet and eager to please. I asked for a recommendation and she didn't really have one off the top of her head. She didn't have a great deal of food knowledge though and had to keep going back to the kitchen to ask questions. We weren't asking hard ones either, I feel that the server should know how the chicken is prepared. She wasn't sure about the desert and had to ask about it too. However, I would always prefer a server go and ask the kitchen than make something up or not give a crap at all.

I was thrilled with the Wooden Monkey. However, Trevor and I don't always agree. We agree more than Tory Spelling and her husband agree on the use of tranny's in a marriage but we don't always agree. Trev was less than impressed with the Wooden Monkey. He had the roasted chicken and a coffee. He was underwhelmed with the portion size of his plate. He only got two small chicken legs on a huge pile of mashed potatoes and the veggies were hiding in the mash. Trev's opinion was that the price was fairly high considering the small amount of protein on the plate. He also had to ask for every single coffee refill he got. Which even I admit, got a little irritating. He felt that for a $3.00 cup of coffee, refills should come fairly regularly. Trevor didn't feel that the portion size or the service reflected the price point at the end of the night.

I don't agree. Again, we don't agree on everything, like how I should be a roller derby superstar or the fact that we should have a married couple secret handshake. We should totally have a married couple secret handshake. We would be the talk of the play dates with something badass like a secret handshake.

We did agree though that it was good to see our friend Marlaine because she is fantastic. I will certainly be back to the Wooden Monkey because I feel like I should try every single thing on the menu but I don't know if I could get Trev to come back with me.

We have since come up with a secret handshake. Trev insisted that it ends with him giving me the finger, which I feel is just his way of giving me the finger for making him develop a secret married couple handshake. He is adamant that it is how all the cool ghetto kids end their handshakes.