Buca di Beppo

My friend (The Gatherer) and I went to Buca di Beppo on a sorority retreat. Under any other circumstance, we wouldn’t have set foot in that restaurant. Italian food is very dangerous for the both of us. Pizza, spaghetti, and bread crumbles are poison to me. The tomatoes and meat are practically a death sentence for her. As we were in a very large group, we had a set menu: bread, Caesar salad with croutons, chicken slathered in tomato sauce with bread crumbles on top, and then pasta with tomato sauce. AKA Wheat, Meat, and tomatoes.

The Gatherer and I’d had very little to eat that day, so we were very hungry. The Gatherer was able to eat the bread, but that is hardly filling. Neither of us could have the salad — I couldn’t have the croutons, and picking them off wasn’t an option because they had contaminated everything else in the salad; the Gatherer couldn’t have the dressing (most have soy in them). The next course was chicken parmigiana. Not only was the meat covered in tomato sauce, but the restaurant decided to sprinkle wheat on top of it all. The Gatherer isn’t as restrained (or as sensitive to contamination as I am, allergy-wise) as I am, and so she picked the cheese off the chicken, scraped the tomatoes off, and ate that. I sat there, and drank gallons of diet coke.

The waiter noticed my lack of food, and started trying to find something, anything I could eat. My options boiled down to plain chicken (ewww), plain steak (too expensive), or a walnut and apple salad with olive oil for the dressing. I had the salad, but without the walnuts, as I am allergic to those too. So I ate my apple salad with olive oil, and I learned that there is only so much lettuce you can eat with oil before you realize how boring it is, and just can’t eat any more, no matter how hungry you are.

While I tried to figure out what else I could eat, the third course was brought out: spaghetti with red sauce. As the Gatherer likes to say “eating that would be like drinking Draino.” Five glasses of diet coke and 500 longing glances at the real food later, it was time to head back to the hotel.

Once we were back, I had my real food, aka Cheetos from the lobby vending machine. I went hungry for a bit, but otherwise, no harm done. The Gatherer, on the other hand, did not make it through the other side of dinner unscathed. Now the thing to understand about the Gatherer is that her allergies aren’t the usual sort, you know, the kind that make you swell up or break out in hives. Instead, hers wreak havoc on her emotions. Now, we still have no clue what exactly tomatoes do to her, but soy makes her paranoid, depressed, or just plain crazy. That night, she got a bit of soy, and a bit of tomato — tomato from the chicken parmigiana cheese (cross contamination), and soy from the butter in the bread. In the end, the Gatherer ended up lying on the bed, paranoid that no one in the sorority trusted or liked her. This worry was totally unfounded as we had instigated a wildly popular dance party invasion just hours before.

But back to the point, Buca di Beppo tried very hard to accommodate us, but they just weren’t properly prepared for people with food allergies.


6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Alexandra Evans said,

    Basically, I feel very bad for the hunterer and the gatherer. their lives sound slightly depressing about food. I love food myself. I’d be quite upset if this were me. sad day

  2. 2

    This post was very well-developed. Your first paragraph went into description of exactly what you mean by “we wouldn’t have set foot in that restaurant,” and you captured my attention with humor. And “eating that would be like drinking Draino?” Awesome. Great application of notes given last week! 🙂

  3. 3

    cmlmcmillan said,

    Good God, I think I would die if I were you — I’m a “foody” all the way. I loved the description of what happened to the Gatherer — nice pick-up from the notes last week! On a technical note, keep an eye on long complicated sentences or complicated lists of things (in particular, this sentence got confusing: Italian food is very dangerous for the both of us — the wheat the noodles, bread and pizza are made of for me, the tomatoes and meat for her.) I had to read it several times before I understood what you were saying. Overall, though, it was amusing and and interesting read. Well done!

  4. 5

    […] day. This particular food court’s main type of food is Italian. If any of you recall from the Buca di Bepo post a few weeks back, Italian food is very dangerous for the Gatherer and I. The butter often has […]

  5. 6

    Tina said,

    In terms of internet time this post is ancient, but not to old to be a comfort me. Its good to read that I am not alone. Soy hits my emotions too, starting with raging anger that eventually ebbs into a suicidal depression. Thank you for sharing your experiences. (Family event at Buca tonight.)

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