Dear Friends and Family,
I am scared to eat at your house. I know you have a super-clean kitchen and I'm not trying to insult you when I ask a million questions or decline a dinner invitation, but cross contamination is a real thing and if you're not super careful, I will be sick for days. I know you mean well by preparing gluten free items for me and I truly appreciate your effort; however, if a tiny crumb of a gluten containing ingredient touches my dish, I will likely be sick. I want to enjoy your company, but I don't want to have headaches, fatigue, stomach cramps (or worse) at your house--it makes for bad company.
To provide a completely gluten free meal, you'll need new mixing bowls, baking pans, utensils, and you'll have to read every label of every ingredient to check for sneaky gluten which is not always obvious. For example, who knew that most salad dressings, sauces, frozen fries, and even some brands of chicken broth are not gluten free? I learned that the hard way. Also, just because you ate tacos at my house doesn't mean I can eat tacos at your house. Most seasonings aren't gluten free.
Meeting at a restaurant isn't much safer. I have a couple of go-to restaurants that I semi-trust (Mellow Mushroom and Red Robin), but if we meet there, please be prepared for me to ask to speak to a manager EVERY TIME to ensure minimal cross contamination. If you invite me to eat at any other restaurant, I will call in advance to inquire about gluten free options, but I will probably eat a protein bar in the car on the way and will only order a beverage once I get there. I will still go because I want to spend time with you!
Please forgive me for having trust issues. I ordered gluten-free pasta from Olive Garden and couldn't understand why I was so sick before we got home--less than 15 miles away. After further investigation, I learned that they boiled the gluten free pasta in the same water that they boiled the other pasta. Guess what? My meal was NOT gluten free. Also, I read great things about Outback's allergy menu and decided to visit. I specifically requested the gluten free menu, explained my issue to the server and ordered salad with no croutons to be mixed in a clean bowl. When the salad was brought out, I asked again if it was gluten free and was assured it was safe. After eating half of the salad, I saw a tiny crouton. My family will tell you that I almost flipped the table over as I was screaming for the manager. Again, I was sick before I got home. It is really not worth the hassle.
I have a dear friend who was hosting a visitor who has Celiac Disease and she wasn't sure how to accommodate on short notice. She called me for advice. With very little time to prepare, I came home and grabbed a frozen gf pizza and brownie mix and took it to her with strict instructions: Stop at the store and pick up disposable pans, new utensils, and a carton of Breyer's Natural Vanilla Ice Cream to serve with warm brownies. Order pizza for everyone else. The host was able to pull off a no-fuss dinner with little prep time. The guest enjoyed a safe meal with no cross contamination. That is a win-win.
I would love to visit, go shopping or meet you to go see a movie, but let's eat before we go or feel free to dine at my house where everything is gluten free and you won't even have to clean up the mess!
P.S. Nathan's note: I can tell you right now that my mom really did almost flip over the table at the Outback.
P.S.S. This post was not meant to insult anyone. It is just how I (and most of my gf friends) feel. Gluten is poison to our bodies and we have to be so careful so we don't get sick! Thank you for understanding. We love you.