Since Hub and I moved into our first house–versus the townhouse I owned before we got married–we’ve been doing mother’s day at our house. We’ve vacillated between brunches and cookouts, depending on our whim and potentially on the availability of both of our families. Hub’s mother lives locally but his father does not, so we took to hosting mother’s day so that we could have both our families together to celebrate. Father’s day was hosted at my parents’ house when my grandparents were alive, but after that we started going out to a restaurant. My father loves to go out, so it was a natural progression.
Several years ago, one of my brothers announced that he wanted to plan father’s day, since we do mother’s day, which was A-OK with me. Since then, he’s been planning the outings to the restaurants, which I suspect mostly had to do with the fact that his wife has some food allergy issues, and they wanted to stick to restaurants where she could feel safe in ordering her food. I totally get that because of my gluten free issues, so we all went along with their preferences. Even though it was always the same restaurant and it kind of sucked…we accommodated their issues without complaining.
This year mother’s day kind of got zapped because of my aunt’s illness. My parents were with my aunt in the hospital near her house, but Hub and I had his family over for the cookout anyway. My brothers did not attend, preferring to allow Hub to spend the time with his family. About two weeks before father’s day, my brother contacted me to say he and his wife thought we should re-do the cookout on father’s day and call it “parent’s day” so that we could celebrate both for my mom and dad. Fine idea, I thought, until the implication was that Hub and I should host. I nipped that idea in the bud, pretty much telling them it would be so great for them to host the “parent’s day” since it was their idea. To their credit, they accepted that with grace and set about doing whatever they needed to in order to host the cookout.
Let me note quietly that my brother and his wife do not cook. They exist on cold cereal, scrambled eggs or omelets, and PB&J. I’ve tried to explain how easy it is to use the crockpot they got as a gift for their wedding, but to no avail. When they got married and moved into their house, they bought a nice big new grill, but they never use it. Grilling is soooo easy. Food meet heat. Done. Nope. So we were sort of assuming that my other brother would end up manning the grill on father’s day. Which is exactly what happened.
Anyway, when we got to their house, we immediately offered to help with last minute things, like cutting up veggies to put on the grill and such. My brother asked if I wanted hot dogs or chicken and I said chicken. My SIL showed me the marinade she used on my piece of chicken, so I could see it was gluten free. I thought that was very kind of her (we always make sure to avoid her allergens when she comes to our house, of course!), especially considering it meant she had to pre-think things when she’s not accustomed to cooking for people. So I felt comfortable eating what I ate, including the chicken and the raw veggies with hummus dip, etc. I pretty much know what is safe and what might not be, and I avoid the things I have any concern over. If I don’t have enough to eat, I just eat when I get home. It’s how my life pretty much works, though technically I don’t eat at a lot of other people’s houses these days. My mother always has safe food for me…that’s pretty much the only home cooking I will eat. If we have to go to an event, I gravitate toward turkey (people almost always serve turkey for sandwiches) and just eat the meat alone. It’s a pretty safe bet.
Anyway, I generally never eat dessert because people (and restaurants) always have cakes, pies, cookies, and the like. All flour-filled. So I resign myself to skipping the sweets at the end of the meal. It’s okay, I survive. If I want sweets, I eat them at home, even though I don’t do too much of that anymore either. I am really okay with it. So when the cake came out at my brother’s house, I figured I would do what I always do and say no thank you. They started cutting cake and like always, my dad pushed a piece toward me (he never remembers that I don’t eat anything made with flour–it’s like a blank spot in his brain) but I said “no thank you”. My SIL waved her hand and said, “No, it’s okay! It’s gluten free!”
My jaw hit the table. I knew she’d ordered the cake for mother’s day, then put it in the freezer when the day got scrubbed. I had no idea she had even considered that she could order a gluten free cake from somewhere. I’ve never done it…cake just isn’t that exciting to me to do it. But I know there are a couple of bakeries that do offer gluten free cakes. I was actually really touched that she went through the trouble (and expense) to do so, so I immediately pulled the cake toward me and had a bite. I told her how good it was, though really it was more about her effort than the cake–which was vanilla and kind of dry. But I ate the whole piece and we all had a conversation about how it tasted pretty normal and how surprising that was.
We came home after the evening was over and I sent my SIL an email before I went to bed, thanking her for thinking of me and seeing to it that I had enough gluten free food to eat. I wanted her to know that I was appreciative of the efforts she made.
The next day I was feeling kind of off, but I attributed it to the cold I’ve been fighting for four days. Then I decided to look up the bakery she ordered the cake from to see what else they offered. But there was no mention of gluten free cakes on their website, and the company had no mention in the gluten free registries I knew of. So I emailed the bakery to ask if they offered gluten free cakes because a friend had said they ordered one from them. Their response? “Sorry, no. Try Whole Foods?”
I was dumbfounded. But then I thought maybe I remembered the wrong bakery name, so I emailed my SIL to ask which bakery she used, so I could keep their name for the future. She emailed me back today and confirmed the bakery name–it was the one I emailed who said they don’t do gluten free cakes.
So I’m all sorts of upset and confused. I didn’t have the normal reaction immediately after eating, but I did feel badly the next day. I haven’t had wheat in so long that it’s possible my reactions have changed and/or lessened, I don’t know. What I do know is that this whole thing makes me so upset. Is it possible my SIL lied? Misremembered? Didn’t care and just said “Oh sure it’s GF!” I didn’t ask her, she jumped in and reassured me the cake was gluten free. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt because she has pretty severe allergies and should understand that having a reaction is a bad thing…but I don’t understand. I don’t understand how this happened.
I feel a lot of distress over this issue. Do I tell her? Do I ask her what happened? Do I let it go? It ramps up my anxiety about eating somewhere other than my own home because people don’t get it. I thought she would because of her own issues, but it didn’t seem to be that way in the end. I’m upset. I’m upset and anxious over what to do about it. I don’t want to accuse her of anything, but this is hurtful to me. I would have been 1000% happier to have just said “no thank you” to the cake and not had to deal with any of this. But she was so adamant that the cake was gluten free, how could I have known to be wary? Do I tell my brother? Do I ask him if he knows if she mis-remembered the bakery name?
I am so stressed out over this, on top of all the stress I’m already dealing with over the dogs. And the cold I am fighting. And the sleep I’m not getting. I want to go cry in a corner.