Last week my brother’s family and my family went on a weekend family vacation. The vacation was a blast, and it’s something we do every year. Now that we have a son with special dietary needs, we have to do a little more planning, as well as make sure we get hotels/lodging with a built in kitchen. We still like to eat out once or twice though, so we make sure to call ahead and do the legwork necessary to make sure Little Z doesn’t have to go hungry or eat only a potato/rice.
Because of the great experience with BD’s Mongolian Grill, we thought Hu Hot (West Des Moines, IA) would be a great restaurant choice because they would have a special grill in the back for allergy sufferers (and I really like Hu Hot’s food). We called ahead, they assured us they deal with allergies all the time; although they don’t have a special grill, they “clean the grill three times, don’t share utensils,” and so on.
Well, cleaning the grill constituting spraying it down with water and scraping it 3 times. Even though I told the employees he was an allergy customer (I don’t even mess with explaining intolerant and celiac disease), they still shared utensils. I asked the manager if he could cook or microwave his food in the back, and he said that he couldn’t because they couldn’t make sure the meat would be cooked fully. I was really disappointed — there was no way his food could have been cooked in the back somehow? Not in a pan?
Well, I decided to only let Z have the rice that is brought to the table when you arrive. Well, it must have been cross contaminated with an offending ingredient because he woke up that night around 1 am and screamed (SCREAMED) until around 3 when we could finally calm and settle him. Little Z developed the standard yeast diaper rash and diarrhea. It took him 5 days before he took more than a 45-minute nap and didn’t sleep fitfully at night.
Lesson learned: don’t assume anything, and always make sure you inquire more deeply into a restaurant’s allergy practices; i.e. when they say they clean a cooking area, ask how they clean it. Do they use soap?