Hell’s Bells

September 4, 2009

in Non-Stories

Hey Dev,

I am allergic to several foods and one night I ordered my usual at my former fav Mexican restaurant. I asked for no bell peppers and I always tell them that it will make me very sick (hospital sick) if they are in the dish. This time they forgot and left the peppers in and I pointed it out and asked for a new dish, this one came out with a pepper still in it; it looked like they had just picked them off. I told them that I can’t eat anything that has touched bell peppers as I stop breathing. They brought out another plate and it still had peppers on it. The manager came over and I told him what happened and he offered another one but I told them that I didn’t want anything, to just forget it, and that I wouldn’t come back again. I sat there while my daughters finished their meals. Was this the right thing to do?


– Julie, the girl that can’t eat carrots, walnuts, bananas, bell peppers, mangos, melons, tropical fruit and now the newest addition-celery

Dear Julie,

Let me see if I’ve got this right – you informed the server that bell peppers might lead to your demise and yet you were served them anyway 3 times – and you want to know if you did the right thing by refusing to eat there? Here’s my reply in 2 words – HELL YES!

Alas, the world is full of shades of gray rather than black and white, so my full reply isn’t going to be so succinct. While you had every right to get hot under the collar over the peppers, I wonder if perhaps there was a misunderstanding. I can’t see the restaurant wanting to intentionally put you into the grave (for one thing it wouldn’t be good for business). Unlike many of the chain restaurants which are training staff to be aware of food allergies, smaller mom-and-pop establishments don’t get many diners reporting the problem. Combine unfamiliarity with a language barrier, and you have a recipe for disaster.

You might want to bring with you cards that simply note which foods you’re allergic to which can be handed from the server to the chef. Maybe one side can be in English and the other in Spanish. There are websites where such cards can be purchased, but the ones that I found only offered cards for the most common types of food allergies. You can create your own cards, perhaps including graphics to help get your point across, such as this not-too-subtle one that I put together:

Food Allergy Card

Best wishes to you Julie. Say “Hola” if you ever run into me in a  Mexican restaurant. I’ll be happy to treat you to some margaritas and a dinner – sans bell peppers of course.


[Note: Dev the Dining Devil mysteriously disappeared into parts unknown and therefore we’re no longer able to continue this feature.]

Amber May 12, 2016 at 12:38 pm

I see OP saying they said peppers make them sick, not that they're allergic. So the kitchen was unlikely informed about the allergy since no allergy was mentioned. Some people cannot eat some foods simply due to their texture, making them gag and sometimes vomit.

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