Recently I was out to dinner with someone who had made the reservation ahead of time and had alerted the restaurant that someone at the table would need a gluten-free meal. The restaurant assured the patron that they very much understood “gluten-free” and would easily be able to accommodate the diet.
As we sat down, the server was handed a card by our hostess indicating the need for a gluten-free meal and she promptly asked who needed menu information. I indicated that I was the diet challenged individual and the server then proceeded to go through the menu with me.
I loved her line, “You may think you can’t eat the scallops but you can and you may think you can eat the pomes frites but you can’t.” I was totally impressed but also thoroughly bummed about the pomes frites, so I pressed for more information.
“Why can’t I eat the pomes frites?”
“They are fried in the same oil as our crispy onions, which are slivered onions dusted in flour and then quickly fried.”
That explained it, but I was torn. I really wanted the pomes frites, so I took the immature route and played the parts per million game in my head. It’s called the “I-can-rationalize-any-sort-of-diet-kerfuffle-and-make-the-gluten-disappear-by-denial-that-gluten-could-possibly-be-present-in-the-thing-I-want-to-eat game. It’s a game I play often with soy sauce, one draft beer from a bar and things fried in shared oil.
Of course there could be traces of gluten in the pomes frites from the oil, but would there be more than 20 parts per million in one serving? Pomes frites do not have any gluten containing ingredients, but they share cooking oil with something dusted in flour. The thought bubble in a cartoon image of me would have said, “If I don’t have pomes frites, I will end up very hungry at the end of this meal of grilled salmon and salad…possibly tipsy too since neither will soak up the wine we just ordered.”
All of this was like Ping Pong in my brain and then I made my decision…what would you have done? What do you think I did?