Special Order, Please

by Lisa Rosen on July 25, 2011

To be filed under the category of “Things That Make My Head Explode”:

People who glance at a menu and announce there’s nothing they like.

Really?  I find that hard to imagine.  I’m a stupidly picky eater, and even I can find something in most places.

What drives me most insane is when my kids insist there’s nothing they want on the menu.  Toby pretty much lives on pasta.  Delaney pretty much lives on chicken sandwiches.  But if you were to take either of them to a restaurant they’d never been to before, they’d take one glance at the menu, and tell you how awful it is.

The conversations are getting a bit repetetive:

“I don’t like pesto.”//”Order it without the pesto.”

“I don’t like mayonnaise.”//”Order it without the mayonnaise.”

“I don’t like onions.”//”Order it without the onions.”

“I don’t like melted cheese.”//”Order it without the cheese.  Or with the cheese on the side, so it’s not melted.  Just order already.”

“We can’t eat here.”//”Why not?”//”Everything is garnished with parsley.  I hate parsley.”//”Order it without parsley, for Pete’s sake!”

*tears*  “I wanted a sandwich!”//”What’s the problem?”//”It says it has pickles!”//”Oh, good heavens.  Stop acting like it’s some kind of tragedy.  Just ASK FOR NO PICKLE!”

(in an accusatory voice) “You said they had pasta.”//”They do.  See?  Linguini.”//”That says mushroom linguini.  You know I hate mushrooms.”//”But it also says linguini.  That means they have pasta.  Just ask for some plain noodles!”

And my personal favorite:

“There’s nothing I want.”//”How about the chicken sandwich?”//”No.  It has romesco.”//”Do you know what romesco is?”//”No.  But I know I don’t like it.”

Unless you keep kosher, or have celiac disease or a peanut allergy, or some other profoundly limiting circumstance, there’s bound to be something you can eat.  I don’t eat much meat*, but I can manage just fine at a steakhouse.  Or a BBQ joint.  Lee tries to eat pretty low-fat; it’s admittedly difficult in restaurants, especially if you order straight off the menu, but if you’re willing to ask questions and make special requests, it’s do-able.

That’s my point:  whether you’re just a picky eater, like me, or have a genuine dietary need, like Lee, you have to be willing to speak up.  You are, after all, the customer.**

*I don’t eat beef at all.  Not ever.  The last time I ate so much as a bite of beef was in 1993, and that was only because the doctor was threatening me with a transfusion, so Lee made me eat a steak.  I do eat some ham, and the occasional bit of chicken or turkey.  And I adore the occasional crustacean.

**Some (but not many) restaurants are unwilling/unable to honor special requests.  That’s fine–that’s their prerogative.  We make a mental note, and don’t go back.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sonja Foust July 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I’ve been told recently that I have a gluten sensitivity (not celiac disease), and I’ve been really pleasantly surprised at how many restaurants have gluten-free menus. You just have to ask!


Lisa Rosen July 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm

So sorry about the gluten problem, Sonja, but you’re right–just ask!


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