Last night, for example, we were out for dinner together with our husbands at a local hibachi restaurant. Hibachi was a good compromise for us all because the men could have their flame-thrown protein and rice and vegetable while Jane and I could have sushi. No one could have meat, as it was a Friday during Lent, but--major score--there were plenty of seafood options.
Jane always has a particularly difficult time ordering her meals because she has self-inflicted dietary restrictions. A lifelong victim of stomachaches (me, too, by the way), she narrowed down the more violent causes to dairy and gluten. This makes going to a restaurant with her a real treat. Especially yesterday.
When our server came to our table to take our drink order, I think we should have foreseen that Jane might have further issues. I tried to order Pellegrino water. A lovely young Japanese woman, she struggled to pronounce the name of the water. Not wanting to make her uncomfortable, I quickly switched my order to "sparkling water." Her eyebrows furrowed, though she continued to smile brightly, and then she thrust her pen and paper at me and said, "You write it?" at which point I said, "That's okay. Regular water is fine."
It was time to order our food. My brother-in-law, my husband, and I rattled off our requests with no trouble at all. When the waitress turned to Jane, pen poised at the ready, Jane said, "The spicy seafood soup, is that gluten-free?"
"Spicy seafood soup?"
"Is it gluten free?"
The server frowned. "Not free. You have to pay."
Jane leaned forward and opened her eyes wider, so that perhaps the server could see into her brain. "GLUTEN. GLOOOOOOOO-TEN. GLUTEN!"
"You write it?"
"No flour? FLO-UR. Wheat?"
"Flowers?" She looked at a vase behind my head, and for the first time appeared nervous.
"GLUTEN!" Jane shouted. "GLUTEN FREE! TELL THE CHEF I'M GLUTEN FREE!"
"Okay, I tell him."
As the waitress scurried away, Jane leaned forward close to me, as if concerned the rest of the diners might hear her after she just shouted out her dietary limitations. She whispered, "I have to say, I was a bit put off by the language barrier."
Really? I don't think anyone noticed.