Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

My brother-in-law manages a restaurant. Last weekend, he and my sister invited me to join them for dinner there. I don’t happen to like garlic, so I always tell the waiter I’m allergic to it when I’m in a restaurant. After the waiter left the table, my brother-in-law asked me about my garlic allergy. He was visibly annoyed when I admitted I was not allergic but simply dislike it. His reaction upset me a little. After all, I wasn’t insulting the food, just stating a preference. What do you think?

… C.C.

Dear C.C.,

I think you need to understand why your brother-in-law was annoyed. When a quality restaurant prepares a meal for a patron with a food allergy, the staff take their responsibility seriously. It’s not just a matter of “holding the garlic” because they have to consider the possibility of cross-contamination. This means your order now needs to be prepared using a separate work surface, chopping board, utensils and cookware, since those already in use may have come into contact with garlic. They often have to pull someone away from a busy workstation just to cook your garlic-free meal. You unintentionally caused the staff in your brother-in-law’s kitchen a lot of extra work for no good reason.

Stating a preference and telling a lie about a medical condition are two very different things. If you want to clear the air with your brother-in-law, tell him that you now understand the difference, are sorry and won’t pull your counterfeit “allergy card” in a restaurant ever again.

Yours truly,


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