A deeper issue at hand

While I did state clearly in my title below that my anger was over something stupid there was a deeper issue there. I have every right to expect my waiter/waitress to know their food. As a consumer I have that right.

I have a son who is allergic to peanuts. Severely enough that I have to carry a Jr. Epi with me at all times along with loads of Benydril. My son can die from contact with peanuts. Does it sound like I'm making a big deal out of that, well I'm not. You can tell me it's a big deal when it is your child who is puffing up and swelling and itching and hysterical because they touched one small Reeses pieces to their mouth. Here are two examples of wait staff being incompetent, and a third of people just being ignorant.

1. A few months ago we went to sushi. My son came. We ordered all you can eat sushi, which comes with a salad, rice and tempura vegetables. My son wanted the rice and salad. I told the waitress at least 6 times that he was allergic to peanuts and we couldn't have the salad if it had peanuts. I was clear. She brought out two salads with peanuts on top of them. No where in the menu did it list peanut, it simply said an Asian ginger salad. I was very angry but nicely asked her to remove them. She said she would bring something else. She arrived with a second salad and I calmly asked her if it had any contact with nuts. She said no. I asked her please to double check with the chef. She came back and told me that actually, the dressing was made with peanut oil. Both times she set the plate directly in front of my son with in his reach. He is only 2 he does not yet recognize or understand what peanuts are. This waitress should have known what was in her salads.

2. This past friday I took my son to Ben and Jerrys. I was talking to two servers. I told them I needed their kiddie cone rather then one of their hand dipped cones because some of the dipped ones had peanuts and there could be contamination. He assured me, no no, it is safe. At that exact moment the owner of the store happened to walk out and hear this. He reprimanded both employees for telling me that, showed him that they have a completely separate cone because yes there is in fact contamination. He then advised them that they needed to get a separate scoop out of the back to scoop my sons ice cream because their other scoops are simply dunked in a bowl of water that could also be contaminated. Had he not done that, those servers would have gone on lying to customers. Even one small fragment of a peanut could have harmed my son, and the way the cones are dipped, all the toppings are mixed in the process.

3. A few weeks ago my son and I were visiting a local shop. We stopped in quickly to drop something off to a friend. I left the diaper bag in the car since I would only be a minute. The owner was present. The shop had one of those small candy machines next to the waiting area. My son asked me if he could have some. I replied, no because I know that some times those machines hold peanuts. I know this from last time my son simply touched one of those machines and broke out because one of the dispensers held salted peanuts. The store owner upon hearing me say no, replied, "oh it's okay there is only M&Ms, and Runts in there." I didn't want to chance it. Seconds later my son came to me swelling up, crying and turning red in the face. He had a small M&M shaped candy in his hand. Instantly I knew it was a Reeses piecees and not an M&M. I sprinted to my car grabbed Benadryl and came back to administer it. In the 40 seconds it took to do that Brandons bottom lip was swelling and rock hard and his top lip was beginning to swell. His eyes were swelling because he touched them with the hand that held the candy. It seems after I told Brandon no, he spied a candy on the floor, and being 2 he grabbed it and ate it. I then showed the store owner so he could be aware for the future. He argued with me that it was still an M&M saying he had been eating them all day, and it was him who had dropped the candy on the ground earlier in the day, but was to tired to pick it up. And in fact until he went and got more out of the dispenser and broke them open to see peanut butter in them, he was still holding his ground. That store owner should have known what kind of candy he was selling.

A forth example. My son can not get a flu shot. He was born with an allergy to eggs. There was an 80% chance he would grow out of it, and he is slowly. However when he was 1 year old I took him to his doctor to get his shot. My doctor luckily said, wait, no, he is allergic to eggs. All flu shots are currently bound together with egg white. He can not get a shot until he is over five and has had 3 years of negative results on an egg allergy test. Upon asking other friends I discovered, that most doctors, or nurses did not inquire about allergies before administering flu shots to their kids. As a doctor or nurse, you should know what is in the shot you are administering my child, and you should know to ask.

And while I'm ranting I have a final example. A year ago I went to dinner with one of my close friends who is allergic to most nuts. She asked the waitress if there were nuts in her brownie. The waitress said no. The brownie came my friend took a bite and was met with nuts. My friend inquired on the kind. The waitress replied, they were simply walnuts. My friends throat began to swell, we had to leave our dinner and go buy medicine for her. Later we were told the nuts were packaged in peanut oil. In fact, upon shopping for nuts at the store I've discovered the only brand of nuts with out peanut oil is Blue Diamond Almonds. Nearly every other brand of nut I have picked up, cashews, almonds, macadamia, walnuts, and so on are packaged in peanut oil. That waitress should have known the brownie had nuts, and she should have known they were covered in peanut oil, it says it clearly on their packaging THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT, PEANUT, TREE NUTS, AND EGG.

I think I have a right in all of these situations to expect my waiter, waitress, or store owner to know their product. It isn't asking to much. However, if they don't know it, rather then answering what they THINK, they should be respectful enough to say, "you know what, lets not chance it, let me ask for sure." Every waitress who has ever replied that way has gotten a lot bigger tip for worrying about my kids safety.

And yes, my rice having chicken stock in it, isn't deadly but its the principal. That waitress has no idea if I have an allergy to meat, or something contained in stock. I am allergic to anything with a pit. Olives, avocados, peaches and so on. If I tell them I can't have olives in something I shouldn't have to say, it could kill me, they should just find out and respect it.

An anonymous person commented on my blog that only 2% of Americans are vegetarians so restaurants shouldn't have to conform. However only 3% of America has peanut allergies, does that mean restaurants shouldn't worry about that either? How about the growing number of children born with other allergies, eggs, milk, soy, and shellfish. Are you going to tell every parent of every child, there are bigger things to worry about then their child's health? I have been a waitress. Before I even had kids and knew about allergies. I always treated customers requests with respect. I asked the chefs, I read labels, and I answered their questions correctly. I don't know about you, but I would hate to be the waitress who didn't find out and served a peanut oil salad to a child with a peanut allergy.

I also feel that until you have kids, and you are met with this situation, you probably don't respect it. You probably would say, then don't take your kids to eat. And that is fine for you to feel that way. However, you should respect my right as a parent to expect a healthy dining experience for my child. Yes anonymous, I made a big deal over my chicken stock, but it was due to an underlying situation with previous frustrations with wait staff. I hope that now you can read and understand, why some people do have to ask questions when they order food. I realize you probably brush me off as a pesky customer asking questions or being picky. You probably think that about a lot of people. However a lot of us have real concerns, real reasons. Will chicken stock make me die? No. Will chicken stock upset my stomach and make me feel sick? Yes. Will a product with soy in it hurt my friend Christy? No. But will it hurt the baby she is nursing? Yes.

Before you take the time to judge all of us picky food requesters maybe you should consider we have a valid reason for our concerns.

I'm mad...over something stupid

I'm mad. It is 7:50 in the morning. My mom is going to be late to work today. DO YOU KNOW WHY? Because she is driving clear up the Mt. Rose Highway for no good reason other then to buy me some ramen.

Yes. You read right.


Did you know that in all of Reno only one store carries vegetarian ramen? Nissin is the only brand that makes a ramen with out meat stock. Their oriental. However, even though every store in Reno stocks the chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, spicy chicken, creamy chicken, and so on, of the Nissin brand, for some reason they choose not to have Oriental. I assume it is because they also all carry the Maruchan brand, and in that brand they carry Oriental. Problem is, the Maruchan oriental ramen has BEEF EXTRACT.

And guess what?

I can taste it!

I've written about this before, but I want to again. I am so frustrated by the lack of vegetarian options. There is never a vegetarian soup option on the menu at restaurants. There is rarely a good cheese selection at sandwich shops. Most pastas, rices and risottos are made with stock, and most salads are now topped with bacon.

And fine. If you want to do that fine. I won't eat at your restaurant. I no longer eat McDonalds because they put beef flavoring in their fries AND hashbrowns. But what really really bugs me, is wait staff who don't fucking have a clue.

Me: Does the Parmesan risotto have meat in it?

Waitperson: No

Me: Can you please check (I don't do this to be a pain I do it as a test of ignorance on their part)

Waitperson: I'll check but I'm pretty sure it doesn't

Waitperson: I asked the chef and it only has chicken stock in it

Me: Yeah thats meat, thanks I'll just have a plain salad and some crackers.

It bugs me. It bothers me how a person can work in a restaurant and sell food and not know what the fuck they were selling. Don't try and fool me. Respect your customer and tell them the truth. Do you think I won't be able to taste the chicken, beef, or bacon in my meal? I don't like meat, thats why I don't eat it. It taste funny, looks funny, and smells funny. Kinda like dog shit. Are you going to tell me you wouldn't be able to taste and smell some dog shit in your rice? Ha. I'm sure you have all been trained so well to think that dog shit is a fucking delicacy. You know what? I have a good palate I know what is in my food. Dammit I should be on Hells Kitchen, I would kill that competition every time.

Do you watch that show? How about the episode where all those amazing chefs couldn't tell every fucking meal was made out of soy based meat product with NO MEAT! Are you serious? Is that what our world has come to? You tell us it's beef and we believe it's beef. YOU are the reason those people in Mexico selling cat on a stick and calling it chicken are still in business.

This weekend my dad and I were joking about the squirrels in my back yard. He was hungry and said he would eat some squirrel. I said, "I heard it taste like chicken". He replied, "No, chicken taste like chicken, squirrel taste like squirrel."

I wanted to kiss him right there because dammit, I'm so sick of hearing that shit taste like chicken!

And. While I'm bitching and moaning here, if I come in your restaurant and I order a fucking vegetarian taco, and you throw my tortilla on the grill you grill the chicken on YOU HAVE JUST RUINED MY ENTIRE MEAL! You fucking idiot, do you not think the tortilla doesn't now taste like nasty raunchy chicken? I've had to walk away from so many meals because something was messed up like that. It's just ignorance in the world of cooking. Pure stupidity, and also, it is just plain rude. Places like Tin Star grill, who prided themselves in having a vast vegetarian menu with tons of options, mushrooms, two kinds of beans, sautéed vegetables and so on, then they slapped my tortilla on the chicken grill.

I have one statement to make. I realize all cities aren't as fucking stupid as mine. I know places in Oregon and Washington offer real vegetarian food. Shit, they offer real cooked food from scratch (whole other rant). So yes, I realize not everyone has my gripe. I know some of you live in towns where people pride themselves on their food. I don't. I live in a town whose famous food is "the buffet." New York has pizza, Maine has lobster, Reno has buffet. We are a speedy, slap happy, poor quality kind of town and I hate it. I'm sick of it.

I would love to write a letter to my local editor asking our restaurant owners to wake up and make some good food, but, I'm not even sure the people in this town slow down long enough to read a paper.

Dammit, I just want some good food, that I don't always have to cook myself, is that to much to ask?

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