By Heather Legg
More and more restaurants are becoming aware of and accommodating to those with food allergies. It still can be tricky, though, when you are ordering to get your point across. Here are some tips when you do go out.
• Research the restaurant. Look it up online before you go and check it out. Many people with peanut/nut allergies stay away from Asian restaurants altogether, but if you call ahead and talk to the owner/chef, you may realize it’s doable (or you may realize it’s not and better to know before you get there).
• Speak to the server right off the bat. When you are first greeted, let the server know that there are allergies at your table. Don’t be condescending or rude, but get your point across. You may choose to ask for suggestions and you may want to hear their precautions for cross contamination.
• In an article I read on Erstarnews.com, the writer stated that you don’t need to worry about cross contamination with high heat food, like fried shrimp contaminating your chicken fingers if you have seafood allergies. According to this piece, the high temperature prevents the foods from cross contaminating. (If this is a concern for you, I may want more information).
• Remember, if you do get something (like a salad with nuts on it) you are allergic to on your plate, have them bring you a new one before they take your old one. This way, you’re assured they’re just not picking off the nuts and sending you back your contaminated food.
• In the above article, a restaurant manager said it isn’t too much to ask the staff to look into things if there is question. Sometimes they aren’t sure of every ingredient, but they can go into the kitchen and look at everything, “Another thing to keep in mind is the time of the day. If the restaurant is extremely busy, servers still will be able to check on the individual ingredients. However, it does take some time, and would be easier for everyone if it weren’t during a dinner rush. It’s easier when we’re slower to look into it … a lot easier on us because it will take a little bit of time to look that information up,” Pruyn said. But, if it is busy, the server still will look into the ingredients, he said.
Just be thorough and to the point when you are talking to the staff. There usually is something there for you and it just may take being a little more creative and conscientious. Get to know your local restaurants, too, it always helps to be a familiar face.