So my daughter wanted to take me out to dinner.
As she isn't yet old enough to drive,or have a job, and therefore survives on what meagre pennies she can prise from my cold, tight fingers, this was a massive undertaking to begin with. Add in the special dietary requirements of a vegetarian coeliac and the task is herculean. Using the admirable skills of slyness, deviosity and cunning (I am so proud) she enlisted the help of an adult friend and arranged a whole evening.
Here's a survival guide of how to handle the gluten-free, vegetarian night out:
1. Give the chef plenty of time to rise to the challenge.The restaurant was warned weeks in advance that I was coming with my special dietary needs and many a conversation was had. This is totally the way to do it. I generally find that most people don't want to poison me.
2. Choose what you are told. Choices were offered, three per course, but it was clear from the way the server told us about them that there was one in particular the chef wanted to cook. Go with this choice; it's what they're most prepared for.
3. Avoid toasted bread. When they know you are coming, most good restaurants provide gluten-free bread with the meal, however, you're pushing it if you think they've bought a brand-new gluten-free toaster to toast it in, which brings me to my next point . . .
4. If you're not ill, be grateful. In a commercial kitchen it's difficult to avoid cross-contamination on work surfaces, toasters, grills, breadboards etc. Maybe the bread is gluten-free, but they slice it in the 'bread nook' which has crumbs, or they don't know to use a toaster-bag, or they don't realise that using the scoop from the ordinary tomato soup will contaminate your gluten-free version. Whatever it is, however hard they try, it is likely that a slip-up will be made.
Don't be mad. There's a lot to this vegetarian coeliac lark and it's not easy or straightforward and although it is now taught in UK schools as part of their Food Technology syllabus, it wasn't taught when I was a lass so most people in their 30's and above are learning. The more you help them before the meal, the more likely they are to get it right.
Anyway, I had a brilliant time, there was much gluten-free cake and much reciting of the periodic table.
Thanks very much, favourite daughter!! Xx
(If forward planning is not your thing, stock up your store cupboards and cook at home using this vegetarian and gluten-free recipes page.)