Having Ted in town gave me the opportunity to test the eating out without eating theory. Eating out without eating is just ordering something small so you don't have to sit there with nothing in front of you, toying with it and/or getting your companion(s) to eat it. You've ordered, so you've fulfilled the general function of a patron in a restaurant, but you haven't eaten anything you are allergic to, so you are not sick. Win/win in my book.
This won't work in every situation, you will need:
1. An easygoing dinner companion, preferably one that is hungry
-someone who understands your allergy, knows you can’t eat anything off the menu
-someone interesting enough that you are there for the company, not the food!
2. Forethought and planning!
-warn your dinner companion that you are going to order an appetizer only, and you are ordering just to order and you need someone else to eat it :)
-don’t order something made with your allergen or a food that you have a hard time resisting
3. The ability to act
-you can still look happy to get the food and enjoy the smell (as long as you are not hungry, this will be fine)
-share with your companion, but be sure you pick up your silverware and play with a few pieces, nudge a bit around, sip your drink, use your napkin
Truth is, at a restaurant people are not paying that much attention to anyone outside their party, so as long as you have decent manners, you can save yourself the big song and dance about your allergy by just doing the appetizer trick and getting a safe drink (mineral water for me, or a cup of tea --yes, I carry corn free tea bags in my purse). I tip like I ate a real meal since I’m still taking up the same space and time from the staff.
Ted is more easygoing than most, so my playing with the calamari while he ate didn’t bother him at all. As I've said earlier, I was there for the company, so I was having a great time. The lack of food for me wasn't an issue since I wasn't hungry.
I don’t know how well this would go over with someone not so well adjusted to my restrictions or so relaxed. I’ll keep you posted.
(There is always the other option of calling the manager, bringing something you can eat, having them put it on a plate for you and playing a plating fee. And, hoping that it doesn't get contaminated in the kitchen. Of course, I am REALLY careful, due to the severity of my reaction and not wanting to waste time with a reaction while I have a guest.)