I was hoping to report on my visit today to Orchard House, the home of the Alcott family in Concord, a trip organized by my local garden club. But at lunch at A charming old Inn afterward, I ordered a crock of macaroni and cheese — and it never occurred to me that they might make it with liquor. I called the restaurant tonight, and they told me they make their mac and cheese with a substantial amount of Guinness. Alcohol makes me sick; I've been like this for 11 years. I'd wondered recently if I had somehow been cured, and if it might be okay to have, say, a pasta sauce with a splash of wine in it — but it's definitely not. I didn't taste the Guinness, although one of my friends said she thought she tasted alcohol.
If you have food allergies or sensitivities, always, always ask before you order a meal. I didn't, because I was with a large group of women and didn't want to take everyone's time—and risk being viewed as hypersensitive or fussy. Now I am unwillingly hosting a tiny mariachi band (or maybe it's a soccer team) in my stomach. Don't learn the hard way, as I just did. Just ask.
The person I spoke to at the restaurant tonight apologized, although I think it's my fault for not asking. On the other hand, who puts beer in mac and cheese. And there's this: their new menu debuted today and there are clearly some kinks they need to work out, including key omissions of ingredients on the menu — three friends ordered what they thought was a vegetarian "Alcott" sandwich (we had just learned during our tour that the Alcotts were mainly vegetarians, so a cheese and apple sandwich made sense....). But each one arrived filled with turkey.
I was lucky to spend the afternoon feeling fine as I wandered and shopped in Concord by myself after lunch. I was lucky that I only started to feel strange on the train ride home. I have not been so lucky since I came in the door. I'll be fine. I just need to stay close to home and follow the BRAT+G diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and — my addition — gingersnaps) for a day or two. I hope. Sometimes the band sticks around for a couple of weeks. But I'm going to think positively.
I'm going back to bed. More later.