Take It Or Leave It

I’m reading Susan Musgrave’s, “A Taste of Haida Gwaii,” and caught on to a motto she has quoted more than once. 

We offer you a choice. Your choice is to take it or leave it.” 

Air Canada

In a fine-dining restaurant in the Canadian Rockies, it came down to that quote as I sent the waiter back to the chef to inquire about yet one more possibility in my quest to order a three-course meal that complied to my food allergic, autoimmune protocol, medically-necessary gluten free diet. 

The answer that came back was not surprising. The chef was reticent to substitute anything, as he had painstakingly created and set the ingredients. It would be akin to asking a conductor of an original score to remove individual notes because the a particular listener did not want them included. 

Other than the gluten, dairy, and nuts, my other requests came down to a “take or leave it” approach. I could take the dish as is, and after the plate was delivered, I could eat the foods or remove what I could not eat, or I could leave it — that is, not order it at all. 

Not wanting to be trouble, I took the best of the first choice, and my husband received offers from me for everything I could not eat. 

I think people are pretty shocked to hear such a story. But there are many sides. I can imagine that a restaurant such as the one we selected for being one of the best in town attracts many out-of-town guests, some with legitimate allergies, and others with what I would call preferences rather than true intolerances that cause GI distress. If a chef were to accommodate every single request for substitutions and omissions as true allergies, it could be very challenging for his or her staff to accommodate. 

Someone like myself comes along, and I have a list so long, the waitstaff often have to make multiple trips to talk with a chef just to get a basic order, and then there’s the checking and the double checking. 

I do some checking too. I check to make sure I have my Epi Pen, that I’ve listen all my main food allergies, and that I’ve asked the right questions about sauces and any unlisted ingredients. 

Everyone seems uneasy. 

Do I know when I should take it, and when I should leave it? 

Sometimes, I only know I should have left it after the fact, when I am crying in pain at home in a bathroom, vomiting my guts out. Other times, I know in 24 -72 hours, when I’m in the hospital, my guts inflamed and my blood pressure so low I can hardly walk without assistance. 

How can food be fun again when the stance of the restaurant is “take it or leave it”? All I can say is, it was a relief to encounter so many places that were more than willing to accommodate me during my fourteen days on the road. 

And I’m also glad to be cooking in my kitchen again, even if it is just an InstantPot meal with allium free curry powder. 

Chicken, carrot, fennel, brown rice cooked in an InstantPot, with curry powder and pepper, with fresh cilantro. Hold the cilantro if you belong to the Facebook group named, “I hate cilantro.” 

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