Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Near-Disaster

Jamie & I celebrated Thanksgiving just the two of us, so I really didn't see the point in cooking a big meal for just us. I remembered at the last minute last night that I had a Cracker Barrel gift card that had been given to us back in January, and we still had two movie passes left over. Dinner and a movie for Thanksgiving? Great!

We have been eating at Cracker Barrel for years with no problem regarding Jamie's food allergies. All we've ever had to do was tell the server about his fatal food allergies, and they've been really vigilant about keeping nuts away from our food and warning us about foods that contain nuts. Well, last night - being Thanksgiving - Cracker Barrel was serving a Thanksgiving dinner that included turkey breast, stuffing, cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, a side vegetable and pumpkin pie. Well, the casserole and the pumpkin pie had pecans in them, but the server - once I explained the situation - said it was no problem to substitute and that she would warn the kitchen staff about his allergies. I even saw it written on the ticket that neither plate could come in contact with any nuts. Jamie and I both substituted baby carrots for the casserole, chose okra for the side veggie, and substituted ice cream for the pumpkin pie. No big deal.

Our food comes, and there's pecans in my carrots! It looked like they had gotten sloshed on from another dinner. I didn't see any on Jamie's plate, but it freaked me out enough that I sent his plate back to have a whole new plate prepared for him, then I went and found the manager. I told him what had happened and that I was very upset, and explained to him in great detail just how severe Jamie's allergies are, as well as how just the tiniest contact with the allergens, even on someone else, could trigger a fatal reaction. I then went to the rest room and scrubbed my hands, as I had touched the pecans to get them off my plate (I still wouldn't eat the carrots, but I had taken the pecans with me when I talked to the manager).

About ten minutes after I returned to my seat, the manager came up to our table and apologized, then said something to the effect of "Well, we can't help it that your son is allergic." I went off on him then, explaining that we had been eating in Cracker Barrels all over the country for years, and this was the first time we'd ever had a problem. I further pointed out that restaurants are instructed to make accommodations for persons with disabilities, and that there are several government agencies that include food allergies in the list of disabilities (of course, I didn't mention that the only one I could think of was the USDA as it oversees the school lunch program). He then apologized again and stated that our meal was on the house.

Now, while I would not recommend near-fatal brushes with food allergens as a means of getting a free meal, it was still nice of them to do that. And fortunately, the rest of our evening was a lot of fun. We used our tickets to see Bolt in 3-D, and got home around midnight last night. Then I did homework until 3 a.m.

So, last night wasn't a complete disaster, and we had some fun. Now I'm doing laundry and getting ready to go to my dad's. Tomorrow I'll be fixing a big Thanksgiving feast for us.


spewdfree said...

WOW! Remind me never to take my son to Cracker son is allergic to soy, peanuts, eggs, wheat and dairy. He is anaphylactic to eggs and peanuts so I know how you feel.
I started a website to help other people who suffer from food allergies. SPEWD Free has allergy friendly recipes and a allergy blog.
I hope you find it helpful!


Tara said...

Man, reminds me of a friend of mine who found mouse poop in a box of cereal. They sent her coupons for 2 boxes of cereal. "Here, have more mouse poop cereal!" Um, hello? Are you going to be anxious to get back to CB anytime soon to use the gift card you didn't use because they tried to kill your son there?????

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

No, I won't be taking my son to Cracker Barrel any time soon - but I still have the gift card and can treat myself to lunch one day while Jamie's at school.