So yesterday I talked about a fabulous baby shower where I got gluten free fried chicken. Last night was a completely different story.
My husband, mother, and I were invited to a party last night. We completely forgot about the party until a friend reminded us that we were invited. We hightailed it to the party and profoundly apologized for being late. Then we realized she was serving dinner. Surprise – every celiac’s worst nightmare!
The hostess is a friend of my husband’s. She doesn’t know me very well. Because we had forgotten about the invitation, I did not call ahead to talk about my celiac disease. The hostess was completely blind to my disease.
As the hostess is starting final preparations for dinner, I went to help in the kitchen. She was serving chicken tikki masala, white rice, asparagus, salad, and bread. I went and apologized. I said that I’m terribly sorry, I have a food allergy, really celiac disease, and will not be able to eat your main course. She graciously said okay and we went on. I ate the rice, salad, and roasted asparagus. I passed the bread and tikki masala and we had a lovely dinner.
I also didn’t ask a million questions about how the meal was prepared. The salad was fresh, undressed vegetables. The white rice was a lovely fragrant jasmine rice without any additional seasonings. The roasted asparagus was simply roasted with olive oil. I could see with my eyes how things were. Could I have been wrong? Sure. But I took a chance and it paid off. If I saw a bunch of sauces or unusual appearance of food, I would have asked in the kitchen before the meal started. No reason to bring it up in front of everyone, just ask in the back so nobody is embarrassed.
I was lucky in this situation in that there was something I could eat. I’m sure I would have stuck out like a sore thumb if I couldn’t eat anything. If she had served pasta, I’d have been in a world of hurt! If there was nothing I could eat, I might have had to explain myself a bit more. But I got lucky.
Not one person at the table mentioned what I was or was not eating. Granted, my husband, mother, and another close friend were the only ones that knew about my celiac. The hostess learned about it that evening. I’m not sure if the other two knew anything at all. Out of seven people at dinner four were very familiar with my disease and the other three may or may not have known. But again, nobody discussed it. There wasn’t even a question when I wasn’t served a lovely peach melba toast bread pudding dessert, either.
I’ve had two social situations in the last three days involving food. Each situation was handled dramatically differently. One situation the hostess knew about my disease and the restaurant went to extraordinary measures to ensure a great meal. At the dinner party, I wasn’t prepared and didn’t prepare the hostess. I wasn’t asked a million questions during the meal and we all just went on like it was normal for someone not to be able to eat. Again, the event was handled with a great deal of grace.
Celiac is hard. It is really, really hard to eat safely all the time. It is hard when social situations come up that you have little control over what is being served and how it is prepared. Sometimes, you don’t even know you will be presented with a meal. A little grace will go a long way on everyone’s part.