On a recent weekend away in Paris, there was one subject on all restauranteurs’ minds: allergy fakers! As you know by now, I always bring my allergy card with me. Not only does the card help me dine out, but it also acts as a catalyst for many discussions about food allergy patrons in restaurants, thus all the talk of fake allergies.
It all started when we met some family friends whose son is opening a fine dining restaurant in Berlin. Since he is opening a restaurant, we talked a lot about food allergies and how to handle them in service. He said that they get a lot of emails about people with random ‘allergies’. For instance when parsley is in season, there just so happens to be a bunch of individuals with a parsley allergy. Hmmmmmm well, that is odd… right!? Can you imagine how frustrating that is for the chef?
The conversation continued at two of my favourite restaurants in Paris – favourite because they handle my allergies with finesse and respect (see the end of this post for more details). I asked the waiter if they get many people with food allergies and at the second restaurant the waiter just launched into a discussion about fakers at the sight of my allergy card.
Both are professional waiters and both had similar experiences explaining that people come with a list of very confusing allergies. To them, it is evident they don’t have food allergies. Why? Inconsistency and not taking it seriously.
What to do about allergy fakers?
To the food allergy fakers:
When you fake an allergy, you are putting someone with a real allergy at risk. Restaurants are getting overwhelmed by fakers. You don’t realize how much work it takes for them to ensure we get a safe meal. They need to clean a complete workstation, use new utensils, get out fresh ingredients, and potentially pull someone off a station to solely prepare our meal. All that and they still have to prepare everyone else’s meals promptly.
Instead of faking just tell them straight up you don’t like whatever it is and ask for the meal without it. This way they don’t have to go through all the extra steps just because you dislike parsley.
To folks with food allergies:
One thing I got from my discussions was when you walk into a restaurant with an allergy card and a precise way of talking about your food allergies you will stand out from the fakers. Bring your allergy card and be confident and clear when explaining your allergy.
One more thing about ordering in a restaurant, I like to order a meal that needs little to no alterations for my allergies. This way you get to eat out and make the kitchen staff’s life a little easier. Also, be flexible you may only get your third or fourth choice. (Here are my 8 Tips for eating out with food allergies).
If you are nice but firm then I promise your dining experience will be a courteous one.
Check out more adventures in Paris!
Kortney is your typical atopic triad! She manages asthma, eczema, environmental and food allergies. Kortney is a co-creator of the online community Allergy Travels and co-host of The Itch Podcast. She wants to spread joy in a community that can easily see the hard side of life with atopic disease and believes that you can have a full life with food allergies, it may just be lived a little differently!