glutenIf you’ve checked out my recipes you may have noticed that they’re gluten free. Several months ago, I discovered that if I didn’t eat gluten, I didn’t get hives or the little blisters/ulcers I used to get in my mouth all the time.

At first it was hard. I mean, you’re talking to a girl who pretty much never had a meal that didn’t include either bread or pasta. But as time has progressed, it’s gotten easier for me to avoid gluten–I’ve given up most bread, and gluten-free pasta is common enough that not only can I get it at home, it’s even available in many restaurants. (Though now that softshell crab season is here, it’s hard for me not to go out and eat them–everyone wants to dredge them in flour or breadcrumbs or both before sautéing, and my husband doesn’t like them so it’s hard for me to make them at home.)

Needless to say, home cooking is much easier than eating out.

But here’s a problem I’ve run into a few times in restaurants. I say, “I’m allergic to gluten.” They say, “No problem. <Whatever> doesn’t have gluten in it.” And yet, once I’ve eaten, I feel the blisters inside my mouth showing up and pretty soon I break out in hives. Now, neither of those is a deadly reaction. Some people have it much worse than I do. But it’s still darn annoying.

I don’t believe waitstaff is inconsiderate or malicious. I believe there are two problems

1) They don’t really understand what I mean

2) Communication fails between waiters and the kitchen

So I’ve made up some business cards. They tell people the problem in the most common languages in my area–English, Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese. This makes things a bit easier as I can hand it to a waiter if I have any doubts whatsoever and he can turn it right over to the kitchen, which solves the problem of French waiter, Portuguese chef, etc. I’ve attached the document here in case anyone else wants it. Gluten Allergy cards. This one is in Word 2011, but it’s easy enough to make your own in whatever word processing program you use.

Enjoy and be safe.