Dealing with restaurants -- how much do you ask questions?

The most recent poster wrote "I feel so strange unable to go out to eat, grilling people about what is really in the food." That's actually a really good thing to bring up, IMO, so I wanted to make it into its own post.

How much do you ask questions, or make special requests, in restaurants?

Personally, my default rule is "if you have to ask, it isn't safe." I have to have some specific reason to make an exception to that, although usually I also don't want to bother with fussing or being fussed over if I can help it.

A few of my exceptions:

1. If I think the restaurant is good enough that they know what a nightshade is. That is, the kind of place where you can just tell the waiter that you are allergic to tomatoes and potatoes, and not only expect that will help your situation instead of hindering it, but that the chef will have the waiter go back out and ask "eggplants and peppers too, right?" I do not go out to eat at that kind of place basically ever, because price aside, that kind of place won't have anything on the menu that is obviously safe, and the annoyance of having to go back and forth with the waiter will (for me) outweigh the benefit of the food being good.

2. The place is run by hippies or the like and they obviously know every single thing that goes into their food. Again, this doesn't mean I want to ask, just that I trust them to know the answers.

3. It is a simple request that I think would be hard to screw up, e.g. when ordering a pizza online and able to write a special request, writing "NO SAUCE. I am allergic to tomatoes -- just leave the sauce off."

If I do decide to ask questions or make special requests, I try to make it as short and straightforward as I possibly can, to avoid confusion or panic. I try very hard not to disclose that I have an allergy (except in specific, tested cases like ordering pizza, where I know a phrasing that works 95% of the time), because I am relying on restaurants to behave predictably in order for me to feel safe, and a restaurant that knows a customer has an allergy will behave unpredictably.

This is where well-meaning friends who try to "help" can ruin everything by interfering, and force me to switch my order to something I don't really want (because it is the only thing left on the menu I think the restaurant won't screw up when they are freaked out about a confusing allergy). :P

I can go on, but I've posted about this kind of thing before, and want to put something else in another post.

How do you all handle restaurant food?

Hello from another Newbie!

I found this group after doing some research about Nightshades, and joined LJ to be able to chat with you all.

Unlike a lot of you (it would seem) I am not allergic to Nightshades, but intolerate of them. I have severe Fibromyalgia, and am also hoping that once I get them all out of my system my pain will go down some.

In addition to Nightshades, I cannot have Soy, mustard, onion, wheat, milk, eggs, watermelon, basil, oregano, mushrooms, oats, spelt, millet, polysorbate 80, yellow #5, blue #2, green pea, broccoli, cabbage, caffeine, coffee, sesame...I might be forgetting something, but that is most of it. LOL

Needless to say, finding things to eat has gotten..well...interesting. And frustrating. I am making most things from scratch and reworking recipes that were already made to accomidate most allergies. Thus my user name: Rediscover Food, because that is what I am having to do. I have to rediscover Mayo, and pasta sauce, and ketchup, and bread...ect. To discover again what these foods taste like, because they are new and unique, and unlike the mayo, pasta sauce, ketchup ect that I grew up eating.

To that end I started a blog to keep track of all the reworked recipes I discover. I hope it is OK to post it here. I look forward to getting to know you all. I feel so strange ubable to go out to eat, grilling people about what is really in the food. Hubby does not understand, and it gets loney. I miss being able to eat anything- to some extent. In reality, it was always bad for me, and caused me pain, so in that sense, I do not miss those foods at all.


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real scientist
  • jinian

on Roundup-Ready soybeans

I wound up doing a lot of research on this issue, and made kind of an enormous post about it.

TL;DR version for people who are not interested in molecular biology: there's very little petunia-derived protein ever produced, and it's present in minuscule, transient amounts. It doesn't satisfy FDA criteria for an allergen, and it's vanishingly unlikely anyone would have a problem. Drink your soy milk freely!
  • kyteroo

NSF Alert... GMO Soy!

Genetically modified soy, contains Petunia, which is a nightshade. :P  I buy only Organic Tofu that is labeled non-GMO, but still.
Also, just about any crop can be made to contain petunia, corn, or soy. Its all in how they modify the original seed. Yikes!

UPDATE: Here's what I found... its the Round-up Ready Soya (page updated Jan 9, 2010).  However, I do agree that the concern may not be there, now that I have more information.

A comparison of the DNA yields for the isolation procedures was made by agarose gel electrophoresis (0.7% agarose in 1X TAE buffer) which is illustrated in Figure 1. The genomic DNA was tested for genetically modified sequences, i.e., GMO analysis, using PCR. Samples were analyzed for the soy lectin gene and Cauliflower Mosaic Virus 35S promoter/ Petunia transcription sequence marker found in genetically modified soybean (Roundup Ready Soya). Analysis of the reactions was done electrophoretically (1X TAE with 3% agarose) and is illustrated in Figure 2.


However, I was never concerned with non-GMO soy products. This only concerns the GMO variety. Even Dr. Oz believes that Soy is best in its more natural format. I, OTOH, would gladly drink my soy milk, eat tofu, Soy products, as long as they are non-GMO, but for other reasons. I just don't like GMO foods when I have a choice.

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  • kyteroo

Vegan NSF Agnolotti Piemontese

This recipe is in 3 parts - the main recipe, the sauce, and the homemade pasta.  However, you could instead, just buy Tinkyada's jumbo shells and stuff that instead. It just won't be Agnolotti, which is a rectangular shaped, stuffed pasta, similiar to the Ravioli. If making your own pasta, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and do the Pasta Dough recipe first.

Piemontese is what we would call Piedmont, one of the administrative regions of Italy, similiar to our States or Provinces. It also refers to the region of Italy, where this dish is common. Piedmont is surrounded by Alps on three sides.

Traditionally, Calf brains, Sausage and Braised Beef is used in this dish. And, it is lightly seasoned with Nutmeg, and served in a soup thats usually meat based, or topped with Butter and Sage. I decided that for you, I'd give you my Red Sauce recipe so that those of you who wanted a Tomato Sauce that was Nightshade Free, you would have it.

This Vegan version, again uses Portobello mushrooms. However, for the Sausage, you can use substitute a Vegan Sausage you like. It just won't be 'free of' what I say this recipe is free of, as most Vegan meats uses Soy. I'm using Fresh Mushrooms, chopped finely, and mixed with Spicier Sausage ingredients, to give it a nice flavour. The Sausage recipes I have found online, tend to be on the bland side, when recreated with Tofu. This version uses mushrooms instead, and is spicy.

The Agnolotti Piemontese recipe...Collapse )
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  • kyteroo

Good News and Bad News...

DEAR LJ EDIT: I HAVE DELETED THE Comment with a link to a crap site but could NOT click Spam because I didn't view the thread first. It allowed me to delete the comment (by following the "delete the comment" link from within my email) but without the proper form from another page, but when I clicked on view thread, it then gave me the option to mark as spam. :P  http://funcvanena.livejournal.com is the spammer who posts "love" crap with crap links. Feel free to email me and I'll give you what she actually posted. Thanks!

ps. I'm deleting the above by the 15th and reverting this post back to the original post. Thanks!

The Post for this community:

I just found out today that, almost any company that makes shredded cheese, contains Potato starch, which means that their non-shredded cheese line could come into contact with Potato starch.  Every non-organic brand of shredded cheese, contains potato starch.

However, Organic Valley cheese does NOT contain Potato Starch. :D However, anyone allergic to seeds, are out of luck as annatto is a seed.

The other news:  The FDA wording of what Caramel is and can contain.  From http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm ( 21 FDA Sec. 73.85)
Sec. 73.85 Caramel.

(a)Identity. (1) The color additive caramel is the dark-brown liquid or solid material resulting from the carefully controlled heat treatment of the following food-grade carbohydrates:

  1. Dextrose.
  2. Invert sugar.
  3. Lactose.
  4. Malt sirup.
  5. Molasses.
  6. Starch hydrolysates and fractions thereof. [NB. This can be from wheat, Potato, Rice or Corn for the common sources.]
  7. Sucrose.
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Hierarchies of risk

In response to a recent comment to an old post, I joked about putting something on my "statistical risk assessment list", and I wonder if other people have something in a similar order.

These are items on ingredients lists that make me worry that it might contain allergens in quantities high enough for me to notice. Does your hierarchy look like this? Do you even have one? In descending order, probably forgetting lots of things:

_____ broth
modified food starch
natural flavors

If it says "natural flavors", I will eat it if that is way down the list. "Spices" I will mess with only if I have some prior experience with the food and am reasonable sure what it is. I don't tangle with "modified food starch" anymore, and after getting sick from "mushroom broth", I won't mess with anything-broth anymore unless I'm really confident everything is listed (e.g. the local fresh pasta store is less reliable than canned broth, in terms of competently listing ingredients).

It's actually kind of awful that I'm happy to find "artificial flavors" on things. I'm not sure what I'd do with "unnatural flavors".