“Can you please check the ingredients in the tea sandwiches?” I asked the waiter at the Four Seasons.
As a treat throughout my growing up, my mom would take me “out to tea” at the Four Seasons. They were always fabulous there about my allergies, and were very thorough, double checking every ingredient. I always ordered hot chocolate to drink. I loved it because it would come out in a tea pot, and next to it on the platter, was a small bowl filled with homemade whipped-cream. As someone who grew up enthralled by every American Girl book, and a proud owner of a Samantha doll, I loved to feel like I could dress up and play tea party, too! Aside from the hot chocolate, I was always able to order tea sandwiches. They would come out on this tall tiered tray. My favorites were turkey and cucumber! Of course I could never order any desserts, but that never bothered me.
I remember the day though when my enjoyment for going “out to tea” ended. I was twelve when we went for the last time. I ordered the same as I always ordered, and asked the waiter to double check on all of the ingredients, but prefaced it with saying that I had come here many times and ordered the same foods. The waiter came back and told me that I couldn’t have the whipped-cream anymore or the tea sandwiches. I was devastated! After that, it just wasn’t the same.
Oh, How I Wish…
There are times when I feel like I am missing out because of my food allergies. It has always been that way and is really just a fact at this point, but I still find myself disappointed at times. Having an affinity for food and the inability to try so many foods is unfortunate. I usually stick with Italian restaurants when I go out to eat. I think that I would really like pretty much any other food such as Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Mexican and basically any other ethnic foods if I wasn’t allergic. I am not a picky eater. I will happily try any food as long as I am not allergic to it. There is also nothing that I really dislike eating. However, I am also a very healthy eater. You will never find me eating fast food. Pizza is as close to fast food as I will come.
My Sweet Tooth
I do have a sweet tooth. Every time I walk by a bakery I feel a bit slighted, not being able to try all the eye-catching, delicious smelling cakes, cookies, and other desserts. The first time I traveled to Italy we decided it was too risky and I didn’t try any gelato. That was hard for me because I love ice cream! My family and I were there in the summer too, when the heat is almost unbearable and all I wanted was something cool and refreshing. Whenever I travel, it is challenging to find anything sweet that doesn’t contain nuts. For many, a favorite part of travel is experiencing unique foods and flavors. I can admit that there are moments watching friends or family, especially when traveling, where I do feel envious. I would love the ability to eat anything that looked appealing.
Missing Out Does Happen
There have been countless times where I have sat and watched everyone else eat. I either couldn’t be served, wouldn’t be served, or nothing was truly safe to eat. For example, when I joined an impromptu late lunch with my grandmother, aunt, and mom, there was not even one menu item I could eat or drink. Everything was cross contaminated. We thought I would be able to at least eat a salad. I didn’t have a chance to grab a snack before heading out, so I sat and chatted on an empty stomach. When this happens, I try to just enjoy the company that I am in and not focus on the food. That is really all I can do! When I was younger, that was much more challenging. Children don’t understand how to focus on other things. They are hungry, so they want food, and they want it now. Fair enough!
There Are Ways To Empower
I know I’m always going to have moments of missing out, but I also try to remember what I am lucky enough to enjoy and experience. It is something that has been increasingly easier as I get older. For kids, the best way to work with these feelings is by finding ways for them to feel like they have some control in the situation. An example of this is having them choose the type of special treats to prepare for them when they can’t participate in what others are eating. It is also nice to find restaurants that will happily accommodate their allergies, so you can both relax and enjoy food together!