Clearly that’s an exaggeration – gluten doesn’t actually live EVERYWHERE. Many of us have gluten-free kitchens, for example. However, our Norwegian exchange student (who has celiac disease) learned a food lesson over the weekend – gluten seems to be “everywhere” for her – especially when dining out with friends.
Last Saturday she went out with her friends as they celebrated a birthday. Applebee’s was the prearranged location for the party. As many celiacs know, Applebee’s is a tough place to eat gluten-free. I have nothing against Applebee’s, in fact I used to eat there before Emma was diagnosed with celiac disease, just not so much anymore.
Although Ida and I have talked about cross-contamination and french fries in general, she ordered the french fries there anyway, and nothing else. The next morning she had a stomach ache. This is the first time that she’s been “glutenized” (that I know of) since she’s been here. She said to me that she is still NOT used to having to avoid French fries at restaurants in the United States. In Norway, there is no cross-contamination in the oil like there is here. (Note: I didn’t know if I should be envious? I almost wanted to book a trip there right away for a total gluten-free experience…tempting. But I digress…)
But I reminded her – here there is cross-contamination and it must be taken seriously by her. The french fries may start out gluten-free, but because most restaurants deep fry them with other breaded items, they end up contaminated. I have talked to her about trying to arrange for better and safer restaurants to go to with friends, but so far no luck. So in the case of dining out and french fries – yes gluten does seemingly live everywhere.
Applebee’s did respond to my questions about whether they could tell me about some gluten-free options at their establishments. Here was their response:
“Thank you for your recent request for a list of Gluten-free menu items available at Applebee’s. Due to the frequency in which we change our menus, as well as the small risk of cross-contamination, we can not provide the list you requested. The health and safety of our guests is simply too important to risk sharing inaccurate or outdated nutritional information.
You may call us at 888-59APPLE and a Guest Relations Coordinator can work with specific requests regarding any of the FDA’s Top 8 Allergens (milk, soy, wheat, eggs, shellfish, fish, treenut and peanut) that may be contained in our core menu items.”
Has anyone tried this and had luck? I have not tried this. I would hope they have a basic understanding of gluten (since the above only talks about the top 8 allergens) and cross contamination.
There is better news for us at different restaurants though! We just had gluten-free pizza and pasta at a local restaurant! Watch for that review — tomorrow!
*Note: I’m researching french fries and whether there are any places where you can safely get them. If you have some ideas – send them my way for a post later in the week!