Last night I was poisoned. I’m not sure if it was deliberate or just a miss communication, but it happened. And I paid for it. All night, and most of the next morning.
My nervousness over going out for dinner seemed to have been warranted, perhaps it was my sixth sense or my third eye or perhaps it was just because we are so close to the end of the challenge I am more worried than normal about things going wrong.
The menu was different. That was the first thing. I had looked and planned and prepared and thought I knew exactly what I would change and what I could keep, but then it was different and my choice wasn’t there and sides I had googled to see what they meant were no longer an option and I was thrown into panic.
A specials menu was put under my nose and when the waiter came to take our orders it was so loud from the other side of the bar I could hardly hear what he was offering. It must have been the same for him because I had to repeat twice that I was no gluten, no dairy, and no grains.
He ran off to check with his superiors in the kitchen, like they all do. And I waited patiently, looking at the menu again. There were two options that from what I could tell would not cause much trouble.
- Option 1 – beef shin with pumpkin, carrot and black cabbage (aka kale).
- Option 2 – grass fed Black Angus with potato, salsa verde and something else I had no idea what it was.
There were pros and cons for each.
Option 1 –
Pros – looked like it was relatively straightforward and not much to change. Plus it was something different than the standard steak I had been ordering as the safe option when dining out. I was assured it was both gluten and diary free.
Cons– when I asked the waiter if it came with a sauce, there was a flicker of uncertainty on his face before he had to run off and check again. When he returned, he said only what the meat is cooked in, its own sauces for braising.
Option 2 –
Pros – it was steak, which means you generally can’t go wrong with a steak. You can tell them how to cook it and what you don’t want on it.
Cons – would have to substitute the potato, put the salsa verde on the side and find out what the last part of the puzzle was. Plus I had steak all the time. ALL the time.
I chose Option 1. I took the risk. The sauce was a worry on my mind, but I again repeated to the waiter no grain, no gluten, no dairy and he assured me that all was good.
I ignored the comments from my fellow dinners as they apologized to the waiter for me being so difficult, told me I should just eat air (did they not remember their own diets and meal plans before they got married?!) and drank my standard mineral water.
There was that buzzing in the back of my head that continued to worry me about my food choice, and at one stage I thought about asking to change to the steak. Something felt wrong. But it was too late, and before I knew it our meals had arrived.
The plate was put in front of me and I straightaway knew I was in trouble.
Two large bits of beef. Great.
Some squares of roasted pumpkin. Fantastic.
Both resting on a bed of kale. Very happy.
But then, smothering, almost drooling off the entire dish, was the sauce.
And no, not just a sauce, a gravy if you will. A thick, onion based gravy.
This was not merely a meat sauce. This was not even just a stock. This, my friends was a guaranteed to be not on the challenge list of approved substances, sugar full sauce.
The waiter must have seen the worry on my face as he came rushing over straight away.
What’s your concern.
Don’t touch it, ill just double check it has no gluten and dairy.
He was off before I could mention anything about sugar levels and just as quickly rushing back to my side.
Defiantly no gluten and dairy.
Ok, but about sugar.
His eyes narrowed.
What exactly is it you can’t eat or your allergic to?
Um… I’m not meant to be having sugar either…
There was a pause. It was uncomfortable. Not just for me, not just for the waiter but also for my friends at the table and the rest of the diners who were by now obviously staring at us.
Is this a choice?
The once friendly waiter asked.
So you are not going to die if you eat it.
Not yet! I wanted to tell him. Maybe later, when my body is so clogged up with artificial sweeteners my heart cant pump anymore. But instead I shook my head.
No, I won’t die.
Stare down. The waiter versus embarrassed diner.
The waiter won.
I’ll just scape it off.
And so I did. Full of humiliation, not enjoying one bite of the meal I scraped the sauce off the meat the best I could. I ate the carrots, the pumpkin, the kale and most of my meat.
I had made my choice. It was a failed one, and now I had to live with it.
Sure, I could have sent it back, asked and paid for another meal, made everyone wait for me to get it and most of me desperately wanted to. But the other part of me realised the mistake was mine, and not the poor waiter who took the order and scurried back to and from the kitchen.
I thought I had been clear.
When he took our entrée I said the only thing I could eat were the olives.
When we were offered a free round of drinks I said I was only on the mineral water, and when he asked if I wanted a soft drink instead I said no thanks, I cant have sugar. And when he offered me a pepsi-max instead, I simply smiled and said no thank you, no sugar, even fake sugar.
So why did he think sugar was ok in my meal, that sauce was ok, THICK sauce and how was it thick if no flour had been added to it?
After our semi-embarrassing stare down when taking coffee orders – actually taking my coffee order as the others continued to drink wine – he bought it not only with a chocolate biscuit on the side of the plate, but a small jar full of brown sugar.
I know it was loud in that place, and he had other tables but HAD HE NOT BEEN LISTENING TO ME SAY NO TO SUGAR ALL NIGHT!!!???
I almost forgave him because we sat there so long, talking over wine and mineral water that he finished his shift and clocked off before a bill was paid and a potential tip.
Not that I was planning to give one.
That night I woke up four times. I was restless, uncomfortable and unable to sleep. My stomach flip flopped all night and when my alarm went off at 8:30am rather than springing out of bed like I normally would have, my head throbbed, my mouth was dry and my stomach killing me.
I felt as though I had a hang over.
I had drunk 1.5 litres of mineral water over dinner so there was no way I should have had a thirst, or a headache, but I did.
I hadn’t touched a wine all night, but I was bound to the loo as if I had drunk the bar dry for most of the morning (sorry I know this is too much information but it is required).
I could hardly keep food down, and felt like I hadn’t slept at all.
Even my paleo breakfast at Palate couldn’t pep me up.
I’m not sure if it was just the sugar I know must have been in that gravy/sauce/poison, or if they had put corn flour in it and forgot that it is a grain and still a flour, or if there was something else, but my poor old stomach did not like it.
28 day’s of detox and my stomach can’t handle the slightest hiccup. Or maybe it never did and I just looked past it. Or maybe I just guilted myself into being sick after not sending my meal back.
Just in case it was the meat, I text my friend who had the same meal, but of course she was fine. No stomach pains, no dehydration, no headache, no need to remain close to the toilet and buy an extra 12 rolls of loo paper from Coles. And she as the one who drank the bottle of wine.
If that gravy means I failed this challenge, then I failed myself and I have well and truly paid the price. I don’t need anyone else to tell me, my body has said it all.
And if that reaction is just from sugar I know was in that sauce, although quantity unknown, then what will it do when I bust open the container in the fridge that holds a Tim Tam and the ears of an Easter bunny I have been saving for the end of next week? Or the drink I know I am going to have with friends on Friday night as they celebrate end of dry July? Or the yoghurt I am going to introduce next week to go with my clean muesli I had just made? Or the piece of full fat double Brie cheese I can’t wait to remove from the plastic wrap in the fridge and devour, because I cant seem to stop thinking about what I am going to have to eat post this challenge that I probably still shouldn’t have.
Day 28 and when I should be close to celebrating, I’m well and truly panicking.
- Eating Out Paleo (theascentblog.com)