An epidemic that seems to be sweeping the nation is an unfathomable, lackadaisical approach to diners with food allergies.
Luckily for me, I have yet to find anything that I’m allergic to, but some of my best friends are allergic to seafood, my father is a coeliac (so can’t eat gluten) and I recently dined with somebody with a lactose, nut and wheat allergy.
In the UK, restaurants are super-strict when it comes to catering for people with severe allergies – in Dubai, a lot are not.
Here’s a list of situations that have cropped up in the last few months:
“Hi! You mention you do a gluten-free version of the fish and chips, that’s great! Just checking, do you use different oil to cook the normal fish and chips?”
“No, it’s all the same oil”
IT’S NOT GLUTEN-FREE THEN.
A crispy thing that looks like salmon skin arrives on my fellow diner’s plate, who has a severe seafood allergy.
Me: “Hi, I just wanted to check, is this salmon skin?”
Host: “No, sir….it’s not”
Me: “Ok, then what is it then? I’m pretty sure it’s salmon skin”
Host: “Let me check with the kitchen….”
a few moments pass…..
Host: “No, it’s not salmon skin”
So I said to my friend I’d give it a go before her, as I was still convinced it was salmon skin.
Me to the Host: “Hi mate, I’ve just tried this….and it’s salmon skin”
goes and gets the chef…..
Chef: “Hi! What’s the problem?”
Me (holding up the salmon skin): “What’s this?”
Chef: “Salmon skin?”
Me: dies a little inside.
After giving the whole wait staff a full brief on the severe nut allergies of one of our diners prior to the meal and once again upon arrival, she receives a salad containing almonds:
Diner: “Hi, there – sorry, I have a nut allergy and I think these are chopped almonds?”
Waiter: “Yeah – we can’t do this dish without almonds – just pick them out yourself”.
This actually happened, in an actual fine dining restaurant a few weeks ago. Gobsmacked.
Restaurant owners, managers, chefs, service staff, please listen up: Yes, some people might just go home after accidentally ingesting something they’re not supposed to, have wild shites and you’ll hear nothing of it. But some people can actually die – really quickly – in front of you – from eating something they’re madly allergic to. Please, educate yourselves on the proper way to approach these allergies, ensure all staff members are fully briefed on peoples’ dietary requirements and maybe keep some epipens handy.
Does anyone have any similar stories? Let’s hear you over on the Facebook page. ‘Til next week, ciao!