Will I ever learn?
(Written on a Friday night about a week ago.)
I just had a fantastic dinner at an authentic Mexican restaurant with our visiting daughter and her little 15 month old son. I had the Molcajete, a sizzling mixture of shrimp, chicken, beef, and some kind of cacti, in a hot, green chili sauce. The three previous times I ordered this dish, I grilled the staff and cook relentlessly about the ingredients to make sure I would not be blindsided by a gluten reaction. Tonight, I was so confident in the knowledge of this dish being gluten free that I did not ask one question about the ingredients when ordering. Being able to freely order is a treat for me. There was another dish my husband wanted to try of grilled skirt steak. When it came to the table, the steak looked harmless. However, I did notice that the green chili sauce in the molcahete looked a bit thick and wondered briefly about its safety, but the sauce had been thick before, and I had had no problems.
Half an hour after eating, my intestines felt a little off, but I simply knew the meal had been safe because of my past good experiences. One hour later, as I was splashing water around the bath with my little grandson, intense gas cramps shot up my right shoulder and down throughout my entire front torso. Unable to ignore the pain that literally took my breath away, I had to call to my daughter for help with the remainder of little guy’s bath.
She was so alarmed by my doubled over pain, she wanted to call 911. Of course, I knew this old friend of pain roaming around my stomach and intestines. I hobbled, bent over, to my bottle of charcoal tablets; took four, which I knew would help absorb the gas and relieve the pain. I did have to get into a semi downward dog position on my hands and knees, rear end in the air…the only pain free position at that moment. Oh, and lots of moaning always helps me. I have never understood why making noise or releasing sounds helps so much.
Once the symptoms eased, about 20 minutes later, the self berating began. When will I ever learn? I can never, ever make assumptions about food in a restaurant, even about dishes that have previously been safe. There might have been a substitute cook tonight that took a shortcut with the green chili sauce and threw in a bit of flour to thicken the sauce. There might have been a bit of hidden gluten in the rub on the skirt steak, or it may have been dredged in a smidgen of flour, even though it didn’t look like it when it came to the table. Did I actually ask about it? Noooo. Not a good move, ever…apparently. The minute I let my guard down for one instant…boom…I get hit with a reaction. The worst part is knowing that ultimately it is my own darned fault.
Now that the worst of the pain is over, all that remains is a low rumbling every once in a while. I am wondering if my lack of diligence will cause that horrible tiredness tomorrow. I have a full house of company for the whole weekend. I just cannot afford to be tired. I have a double birthday dinner party to put on tomorrow night with a house full of people spending the night. Usually the tiredness takes me all the way down to the couch for most of the day; the effects wearing off around 4pm. I can feel the tiredness lifting like a fog slowly burning off. Dinner is at 5:30. Wish me luck.
Note to self:
never assume any dish is gluten free in a restaurant even if you have had that exact dish with no reaction in the past;
always double check the ingredients of the meal with the staff;
always carry a sentence in your wallet asking if there is flour in the meal in whatever language appropriate for the restaurant. In this case the sentence should have been, according to my iTranslate app, “Hay alguna harina en este plato?”
With a few precautions and constant, unrelenting vigilance, eating in restaurants can and will continue to be a joy in my life.
Happy nights out to all of you! GF Sleuth