Mind Your (Travel) Manners

A friend of mine is on semi-holiday this week in Mexico (husband’s professional association is having their annual conference there) and, being severely lactose-intolerant, is experiencing a bit of Hell right now trying to make the best of her experience. A few nights ago she asked for a simple bean and rice burrito sans cheese and anything else, but ended up with sauteed veggie burrito with beans and rice on the side.

 

This might have been fine if she had ordered it that way, or, ordered it in the town, say, off a street vendor, and especially since her Spanish isn’t the best, but she is staying at an upscale resort catering primarily to a largely affluent and Western (USAmerican) clientele. Her husband remarked that she may have offended the chef for making a special request.

 

I wanted to agree, but then I remembered, this is an upscale resort catering primarily to a largely affluent and Western (USAmerican) clientele.

Yes, I understand that when you travel anywhere outside of your neighborhood, you may find yourself having to make do with whatever is available to you, but this fact about her staying at an upscale resort catering primarily to a largely affluent and Western (USAmerican) clientele says to my Western (USAmerican) but not-anywhere-near-affluent sensibility that if I’m paying for a meal, it should come out the way I asked for it.

 

This is up for discussion and I’d love to hear your opinion about it.

 

What I’m specifically thinking about is that when a person makes a request for an ingredient substitution, chances are it may be for a reason other than a dislike for that particular ingredient, which is fine, too. Reasons like, say, the ingredient may cause a severe allergic or otherwise excruciatingly painful reaction, or worse, death to the unlucky person who ingests it.
And an upscale resort catering primarily to a largely affluent and Western (USAmerican) clientele really doesn’t want that kind of publicity, especially after it is revealed that a person asked not to be served the very ingredient that damn near killed them. Or did.  I would like to think that they would be used to such requests and accommodate their guests without issue.

 

So, I’m wondering about my response to this as I personally find it annoying for someone to choose a restaurant that clearly does not cater to their dietary needs and then expect for a chef to substitute a menu item so much so that it becomes an entirely new recipe.

 

I mean, I’m not going to choose a steakhouse to have dinner at and expect there to be a plant-based entrée, or even one completely devoid of animal ingredients. I choose not to eat at this place or that place because I have opinions about what constitutes real food and some places are just not it. And since I prefer to eat real food, I stay away from places that don't prepare real food whenever I can. But when you have no choice, I can understand the expectation that you should be able to request that an ingredient or two be substituted so that you can enjoy your meal without ruining everyone else’s in your party.

 

This leads me to another example of veg*n etiquette but one I’ll save for another post.

 

Thoughts?

 

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