My husband and I went out for a belated Valentine’s Day dinner on Saturday night at one of our favorite restaurants. We dine at this establishment regularly, and we have been there many times since we began dating over 16 years ago. It is truly “our place”. Ninety percent of the time, I order the same thing. While they do have enticing specials from time to time, I love filet mignon, and this place specializes in steaks.
Saturday night started out like any other night. We perused the menu and decided to order our “regular” meal. We each order a dinner salad and then split a 12 oz. filet, large baked potato and steamed broccoli. This allows us both to fully enjoy the meal, but not leave feeling stuffed. It also allows me to order and enjoy one of my all-time favorite desserts – flourless chocolate cake.
When my cake was served, my husband mentioned it looked smaller than it normally does. I was okay with that, as I didn’t need a huge piece of cake. It is extremely dense and fudgy, so a little goes a long way. Additionally, the last time we dined here, we were there for a catered function, and they use a different version of the same cake for those events. I dug into and fully enjoyed the entire piece of cake, oohing and aahing the whole way.
As we left the restaurant and were driving home, I received a phone call from the general manager of the establishment. She was calling to inform me that they had made an unfortunate mistake when serving me my dessert. During busy holiday seasons (Valentine’s Day), they often order in desserts from an outside supplier because of the high demand. It seems that the flourless chocolate cake that is not made on site does contain flour (gluten) in the crust, though it is marketed as “flourless”. While the restaurant does have both versions in house, the one that is ordered in is used to cover the excess demand. My server rang in and ordered the truly gluten-free version, but the person who delivered the dessert to me grabbed the wrong one. Unfortunately the error wasn’t caught until after I had eaten the dessert and left for home.
The manager was horrified and extremely apologetic. She was calling to make me aware of the incident and to alert me so that if there was anything I could do to avoid a reaction, I could take immediate action. I haven’t been through an experience where I have known that the food I just ate did in fact contain gluten, so I didn’t have a plan to put into action. All I could do was hope and pray that I would not spend the rest of the night in the bathroom. My brilliant teen son, Jon (also Celiac), suggested I go crazy and eat a bunch of gluten since I knew I had already ingested some. No, thank you! – I’ll pass!
I am not going to lie; – the next few hours were long. I did my best to keep my mind off of what happened, as I couldn’t go back in time and change it. I went on about my evening and drank a ton of water. One of the things I noticed within an hour was that my ears got a foggy/fuzzy feeling. It is really hard to describe. That is not my normal reaction, of which I will kindly spare you the details. That feeling continued overnight and into the next day and spread to my head.
When I shared my experience with friends on Facebook, I received some suggestions of what to do to lessen the reaction. I didn’t have any of the below items on hand, but I plan on stocking up, because unfortunately this will very likely happen again. So I choose to be realistic and be prepared.
- Epsom salt bath – Pulls out poisons
- Gluten Defense or Gluten Ease – Enzymatic therapy to help break down gluten. This is NOT a magic pill, but rather a tool to help with accidental gluten ingestion.
- Drink water and lots of it
I am not going to identify the restaurant where this occurred because this was truly an accident and not the point of this blog post. The manager immediately gathered the staff and lectured them on the importance of safety when serving those with food allergies and Celiac Disease. She assured me that they will go above and beyond to see that this does not happen again. I realize there are risks every time I eat out when the establishment is not 100% gluten-free; such restaurants are rare. I choose (and it is a personal choice) to live and enjoy my life and take precautions where necessary.
What is your go-to remedy if you accidentally ingest gluten? Have you ever found out before experiencing symptoms? How did you address the situation?