Saturday, 20 April 2013

Day 58: Earl's

Banana and I made another trip to Saskatoon today. You must think I go there all the time. It's funny. Before this January, I had been there exactly four times. All four of those times revolved around a surgery I had five years ago (MRI, consultation with a surgeon, surgery, and then a check-up). But that's life, I guess. When it rains, it pours, and whatnot.

Anyways, because her hair henna didn't work two weeks ago, she called the store and they said if she could come back in, they would do it again, for her. So we pretty much made a 2.5 hour drive for a hair appointment.

Lush is really amazing though. They told me it would take about an hour and a half, so if I wanted, they could give me a foot treatment while I waited! So Banana and I soaked our feet in water with a bath fizz, and then had them exfoliated, masked, and lotioned. A-maze-ing. Seriously.

Afterwards, we went to Earl's. We have a friend who's going to school in Saskatoon, and so we said she could pick the place. I googled Earl's gluten-free menu, and it was pretty sad, but it did say that the menu varies restaurant to restaurant. Okay, I'm acting like I was optimistic. I was not. I've been to Earl's before, and I don't really like it, I think it's overpriced, and last time, the server was rude. But, I haven't seen this friend in awhile, and she really had her heart set. So we went.

I stared down the menu forever. Not a thing on it said anything about gluten-free (no pasta or pizza alternatives), and everything I studied was not safe. I pulled out the googled menu, and there were only two things on it and on the menu in front of me; a garden greens salad and a blackened chicken dish. I don't like blackened chicken. So when the waitress came by again, ready for our order, I told her that I couldn't have gluten, and she says, "Oh! We have a gluten-free menu. Do you want me to go grab it?"

It was a single sheet of paper, not laminated or anything, and it at one point in time, it was wet. It was wrinkly and honestly felt like either a kid's menu shoved under the front counter, or something they just forgot about entirely.

There were exactly 13 options on this menu. Three of those were steak (I don't like steak either). Three of them were burgers or sandwiches, served without the bun. Pardon me if I don't want a chicken breast topped with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Pardon me if I don't know how I'm supposed to go about eating that. There was the blackened chicken, and then a salmon dish and a chicken dish, both of which had a star that said the sauces would be omitted. Then there four salads. The garden greens, two that would be served without the chicken, and a mexican style salad (beans and such) that would be served without the taco.

The only things on the menu that didn't have something omitted (not alternatives, or subbed out, but actually just omitted) were the garden greens, the blackened chicken and the steaks.

Okay, I know I've talked about good days and bad days before. They have nothing to do with being sick, and everything to do with how much I can handle, how much I want other food. Some days, I can sit there and watch a friend eat a burger or a sandwich and not even bat an eyelash. Other days, I drive past Tim Hortons and tear up a bit. Yesterday was a very bad day. The worst I've had in a few weeks. Today wasn't all that much better.

So I'm really struggling with everything already, and now I'm staring down a menu that says, "You can't have anything normal. We don't care about your allergy. It's obviously a preference, so you can select an inferior dish from this crappy menu, because you made a choice." At least, that's how I felt. All of my options were inferior.

So I ordered a salad, one of the ones that was supposed to have mushroom-breaded chicken on it. It had brie cheese, apple, a maple dressing... It sounded good, and if not for the asterix that reminded me I can't be normal, I would have been happy with it.

When I ordered, the waitress said, "So you don't want it with the chicken, right?" I was kind of like "Uhhh... Yeah. Hello?" But I just said, "Yeah. Also, I have a gluten allergy." She says, "Okay... Allergy... Wait, what kind?" Seriously. I'm holding the gluten-free menu, ordering the gluten-free salad, I want the cooks to know it's an allergy, and she doesn't remember what kind? So I had fantastic hopes for cross contamination...

Banana got the same salad. She had decided on it before I did, but of course she got the chicken. A different waitress brought our food, served the sandwich first, then the "Maple salad with chicken? And maple salad without chicken? Wait, you didn't want the chicken, right?" Oh my gosh. I know I shouldn't be so neurotic about cross contamination, but I am. What if she dropped something on my plate? She'd just pick it up and move on. Ugh.

So, lesson from today? Don't go to Earl's. Ever again.

I think I was spoiled by Moxie's, or something.

But... I do have the most awesome friends ever. I had been talking to a sales girl back at Lush, and found out her mom had Celiac too, so we were sharing experiences. I admitted the one thing I wanted the most was poutine. I could just make it, if I buy gluten-free gravy, but you can't buy good cheese curds here. She said there was a restaurant downtown that had a bunch of great GF options, including poutine!! I really wanted to go there, but we went to Earl's instead. So after we were done, without telling me, they drove to The Hollows, and I had poutine!

It made me so happy. Partly because I was really hungry and really needed something I could eat, and partly because I had been craving poutine so bad. It was fantastic, too. Made with gluten-free chicken gravy, and cheese curds, and it was actually layered, not just slathered on top. Mmm. Best poutine I've ever had. (Okay, maybe not really, but it should felt that way.) I was so glad for my friends. I'm really lucky to have so many people in my life who understand what this all means to me.

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