Well, hello there gluten haters. Today in GIMB we’re going to have a quick discussion about that time someone served you an English muffin with your scrambled eggs, and after you screamed like a little girl, took it off and handed you that plate of eggs to eat as if no poison had come anywhere near them. We’re also going to talk about those five million times we’ve gone into a restaurant that made an amazing gluten-free dish even though they were not a 100% gluten-free kitchen, and there was peace in the valley.
Because the fact is, as celiacs (and gluten intolerants), sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. I know that we all get that, but what I think is fascinating is how differently we define winning vs. losing.
Me? I’m a “glass is halfway gluten-free” kind of gal so I believe I’m winning most of the time. Which is why I was super surprised at what happened when I took my girl out to lunch at PizzaRev and found this sign posted at the front of the line –
Having had a good gluten-free experience at the Rev before I wondered if I hadn’t just been lucky and now was prepared to leave if necessary. After all, I need to be gluten-free. Like, seriously. Like, I don’t want to poop my pants in front of the children, need. Like, I’d prefer not to get cancer in my stomach, need. Also, when I first talked about my meal at PizzaRev I did hear from some of you that your experiences were not quite so stellar. “This,” I thought, “is what everyone on the Internet is talking about!”
So when I stepped up to order my gluten-free proscuitto and arugula ‘za, what happened next was a celiac dream. Not unlike before, I was asked if my gf request was a preference or allergy (I know, but using allergy is a-OK as long as you’re not talking to a physician). When I said “allergy” shit got real.
The guy handling my order stopped what he was doing and yelled “GLUTEN ALLERGY” and everyone stopped to look at where he was on the line. He changed his gloves, and fetched my gluten-free crust and placed it atop a pizza pan (other pizzas are baked straight on the oven floor) and grabbed a container of marinara that squeezed out, thus avoiding the big vat where all the other pizzas got their sauce and mucked up the spoon and biz. A brand new ladle came out to smooth that sauce out and everyone on the line changed their gloves before coming near my pizza. One guy on the end was even caught up with something else and when he turned around and saw my “gluten allergy” pizza, jumped back to avoid touching it with his old glove hands. The dude making the pizzas yelled “gluten-free pizza going in” when he slid my pizza, still on its pan, into the wood burning oven, and everyone turned to take note and make sure their pizzas stayed away.
So what kind of cross-contamination (or cross contact, as I know some of you prefer) could have POSSIBLY occurred? There was no room for error, and no way gluten got up in my pizza. Flour in the air? OK maybe. But that means I’d better not walk into any restaurant, ever, from now on.
And I know that some of you do just avoid going out at this point, because the risk is too great. Honestly, the risk to all of us is too great given the seriousness of not only the long-term problems, the short-term kick in the ass that can lead to loss of wages, loss of relationships, and loss of general good times. It’s serious. Yet.
I want to go out, and I NEED to go out. I can’t stay in my gluten-free kitchen 24/7 and I can’t enjoy going out if I’m going to have a panic attack every time I walk into a restaurant. So, yes, cross-contamination is real but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I’m not willing to take a bite of gluten and live with the consequences, but I am willing to put my trust in an establishment that says and does the right things to keep me safe. Maybe that’s living dangerously, but hey, that’s all I can do.
But when I saw that sign at PizzaRev it occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention to my food safety and I should go home and make my own damn gluten-free pizza. After watching the hoops the Rev employees jumped through to make sure my pizza didn’t touch one damn morsel of gluten? Well, if I’m not OK with the attention to detail at that level, I’d better start growing my finger and toenails and living like the hermit I would quickly become.
How you do it?