I don’t get to go on the annual off-campus outing for our support staff association next week. Because the place we’re going can’t feed me.
I try not to complain about my gluten intolerance too much; I try to focus more on the health benefits of eating the way I do and enjoy the delicious things I am able to eat. I try to look at the bright side. But occasionally I am forced to face the fact that there will sometimes be things I just cannot do.
One of those is going on our support staff association’s big field trip: a tour of the Asian Heritage Museum. All you have to do is look at the limited amount of art in my office and apartment to understand my life-long interest in Asian cultures. I have several Chinese fans, a relief painting of Chinese fans, and a quote from the Tao te Ching in my bedroom alone. I am intrigued by Geisha; I have always loved Mulan (she was the coolest of Disney princesses, and she wasn’t even a princess!). When I found out about the trip, I was super excited.
Until I found out that a big feature of the tour was a twelve-course traditional dim sum lunch. As any gluten-free eater will tell you, Asian food is tricky. We can’t eat a lot of the sauces unless they are specifically made to be gluten free. MSG is never a good thing. Unless noodles and such are easily identifiable as 100% rice (or corn or whatever other gluten free flour it might be made from), they must be avoided at all costs. And don’t even get me started on cross contamination or my peanut allergy.
That being said, I love Asian food when I can eat it safely. Sushi is pretty easy so long as the waiters are knowledgeable and communicative. (And I can eat the shit out of some sushi! I love me some raw fishes!) PF Chang’s is FABULOUS. And while it’s sometimes difficult to accomplish, making it at home is usually the safest and the most fun. (The ex and I made homemade Thai food once when we couldn’t find a local Thai place that could accommodate both my gluten intolerance and my peanut allergy. We had a blast making it, our friends loved it, and we all ended the evening with serious food-babies.)
So I hoped that maybe, just maybe, the museum would be able to accommodate me and I’d be able to go. Several discussions with the support staff association officers, several emails back and forth, and several calls to said museum later, there is no way in hell they’ll be able to feed me safely. They didn’t understand what gluten intolerance was in the first place; never a good sign. And once I had explained it to them, quite thoroughly, they informed me that just about everything on their menu contains MSG. That rules it out right there.
And I can’t leave the group and go get something to eat somewhere else because of organizational regulations (we have to take the bus, we can’t drive ourselves, we have to stay with the group the whole time). The tour is from 9:00am to 2:00pm. I eat like a Hobbit (I am currently itching for second-breakfast, even though it’s almost time for elevensies). There is no way in hell I can wait until after the trip to eat, and carrying my own food through the museum all morning is not an option, either.
I try to keep it light; I told the president that it sucks, but it happens. I’m telling myself that when we start our summer schedule next month (Fridays off, woot!) I could always go to the museum on my own. I want to go to some other museums this summer anyway, since I’m always too busy to go on Saturdays during the year. And I don’t really like museum tours; I prefer to go by myself so I can go at my own pace and absorb the things I love and skip the things that don’t interest me. I’ll probably enjoy it more that way, anyway. And then I’ll be able to ditch the museum whenever I’m done and go get something to eat somewhere else.
I tell myself all these things, but there is a little part of me that feels like the only kid who didn’t get invited to the birthday party. While everyone else is at the museum next Friday, I’ll be right here. At my desk. It doesn’t matter that “it happens.” It just sucks.
And dammit, now I want sushi…