Professional Hazards—Banquet Dining on the Gluten-Free Diet
- By Aimee Eiguren
- Published 11/7/2008
I am a 38 year old woman and native San Franciscan, now living in northern Nevada...I'm also a Blogger. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease on April 15, 2000 - the Millennium year proved to be quite significant for my life, minus any YK2 computer crashes. My diagnosis arrived sincerely just in the nick of time, because at the ripe old age of 30 I was on my out of this life, due to almost a decade of severe sickness, complications and misdiagnoses. There are still many a day when a flash of my pre-diagnosis past enters my mind and I remember glimpses of my life during those years of confusion, sickness, despair, and ultimate frustration. I don't recall ever feeling fearful of what was happening to me though, because the funny thing about the human spirit is - we fight to live; it's innate to our souls...and of our being. However, I can honestly say that my parents and brother would not concur with my last sentence because they were laden with the fear and uncertainty of my future more than I - my job was to fight through, research, keep living, keep filling up my soul with whatever joys and enjoyment I could still physically and emotionally take in...and I did just that.
I would be honored for any of you out there to take a look at my blog and see what you think, or better yet, please subscribe to receive my blog postings...it's easy to do from the home page at www.glutenfreebowlofsoul.blogspot.com.
Normally, I contact the catering manager of the event I'm attending beforehand just to clarify that they know exactly what gluten-free eating and food preparation is all about, because there have been instances, like the experience I had last week at a luncheon, when the dish was supposedly gluten-free but was not. For example, last week I was at PR luncheon for a group that I belong to and I'm also the front person who interacts with the caterers of this particular hotel. They have served me many gluten-free meals throughout the year, and have always been correct, so last week as I sat down to my plate of Tri-tip and steamed veggies, I thought I was in the clear. As I looked around the table at the other plates that has a nice looking sauce over the meat, I felt safe that they had omitted that from my plate and all was well - not so. I took one small bite off the most cooked end of the meat and thought, "wow, this is pretty good"...then it hit me..."this is way too tasty to be gluten-free and non-marinated." So there I sat at the table with nine other colleagues, as I politely chewed and tried to decide how on earth I could dispose of this contaminated bite without totally embarrassing myself. I quickly summoned over the waiter and explained my suspicion, asking her to check with the chef. Sure enough, they had marinated my gluten-free Tri-tip in soy sauce and seasonings. A very close call.
It is tough enough to try and be super conscious and prepared in these situations; without having to worry that the chef won't get it right, but you know what...there are NO guarantees. Which is why I highly recommend to any and all of you to always, always make every effort to combat this situation before you arrive at an event or party. I'm sure we can all swap stories about what it's like to be sitting at a large table and when the waiter gets to us we have to go through our gluten-free spiel about exactly what we can and cannot eat, only to become the sole focus of conversation hence-forth, with questions like, "so you can eat meat?? or was that wheat? Now what do you have?"....sigh, right?!
I love a fun party or even work event from time to time, but I have learned the hard way and continue to learn, that we Celiacs can never, ever be too careful or too prepared in these types of situations because behind kitchen doors, so many things can go wrong via miscommunication and when we are relying on someone else to pass along our important message, there are risks.
I would love to hear from any and all of you about some of your stories or anecdotes regarding similar situations and what you do to prepare.
Wish me luck tonight!
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