You can do your investigative work thoroughly and find foods to choose from on the menu that appear perfectly safe, but can still encounter danger if you don’t ask key questions and take certain steps. Cross-contact (also known cross-contamination, see Chapter Two for more information) in restaurants can spoil your carefully researched gluten-free meal. It is your responsibility to be aware of this possibility and do your best to ensure it doesn’t happen.
When first learning how to dine gluten-free, you will mostly be concentrated on reading the menu correctly and thoroughly. But beyond the menu, you must also think about what goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant and how to avoid common mishaps from unaware staff. Consider the following examples:
Common Risk Factor #1
You order a salad and request no croutons, but your server mistakenly adds them, remembers at the last second, and picks them off, leaving behind a trail of nearly invisible crouton crumbs on your lettuce.
Common Risk Factor #2
You order a steak without seasoning, but your steak was inadvertently pan seared in a pan that was used previously to grill a piece of chicken dusted with flour.
Common Risk Factor #3
You are craving a fried food at a Chinese restaurant and ask for the sesame chicken to be floured with potato starch instead of wheat flour, but the cook fries your chicken in the same fryer where wheat floured meats are fried.
The next step is to be proactive to ensure your safety.