My grandmother was celebrating her 84th birthday this past Saturday at an Italian restaurant. This restaurant has a few different locations, and the last time we had gone to one of their locations, we asked the server about any foods being unsafe for a peanut allergy. She sent the chef out to our table. When the chef came out, he explained that the Alfredo sauce was unsafe for our daughter, and that he would make her food with marinara separately so there was no cross-contamination. So, just to be safe, earlier on the day of the party, I called the restaurant to make sure that everything served was going to be safe for my daughter to eat. She checked and said it was all safe for her.
However, when we got to the restaurant, they put out a menu of the courses. One of the first course items was a walnut salad. I questioned the server about it being safe, and he said that nothing on the menu contains peanuts. I explained that usually other nuts have a “made on the same equipment” warning labels. He said he would ask the chef. A manager came to our table and again said that everything was safe. However, a few minutes later, the server came in with a salad made without walnuts specifically for my daughter. We really appreciated that.
One of the main course items was Fettuccine Alfredo. My husband and I both both recalled the other location specifically saying the Alfredo sauce was not safe, so we did not allow her to eat that either. We assume that both locations would use the same ingredients.
Our final course was dessert, and one of the two desserts they served was Tiramisu. For those that don’t know, Tiramisu is ladyfinger cookies soaked in espresso and coffee liqueur layered with Mascarpone, dusted with cocoa powder and served with chocolate shavings. The Tiramisu raised all kinds of red flags for me! Are the cookies safe? What about the chocolate shavings? These are things that I consider high risk for her, since so many of them “may contain peanuts” or are “made on the same equipment”. We didn’t let her have any of that either.
She did get to eat all the other items that they served, so it was not like she didn’t get to eat. She just could not eat everything they served. Although I didn’t want her to feel left out because she could not eat everything, I would rather have her be safe than sorry. Is it wrong that even though 3 people told me that the items were safe, I still would not let her have them?
I sometimes find it very difficult to explain to people that just because it does not “contain” actual peanuts (in it or on it), does not mean that other ingredients used in making the food are all safe and peanut free.
Posted on February 18, 2013, in Food Allergies, Trials & Tribulations of Food Allergies and tagged allergy, Chef, Cocoa solids, Eating, Fettuccine alfredo, food allergy, Italian cuisine, Mascarpone, peanut, peanut allergic, Peanut Allergy, Peanuts, Tiramisu. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
You are definitely not wrong by being cautious. The best restaurants will indicate if something was “made in a facilty,” “on shared equipment” etc. Unfortunately, most allergens are found in restaurant kitchens and food can very easily be contaminated as it is being cooked/handled etc. I have a severe dairy allergy and can’t order anything from a restaurant that puts cheese or butter on their grill.
Thanks for confirming my decision. I wish people were more aware and understood allergies more. It sure would make it a lot easier for those who have food allergies. People seem to think that just because the food does not contain the item, it should be safe. They don’t get the full picture.
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