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Jul 27
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by Dennise Goldberg

I’m sure we are not the only parents who struggle to find the foods your child eats while on vacation.  As many of you, we will do what it takes to find something for our son to eat at a restaurant or hotel.  We usually stay at hotel with a timeshare so that we have a kitchen for breakfast and lunch. 

The timeshare properties usually have the nicer pool area; however, the one we stayed at in Arizona it was the reverse.  We went to Arizona to have some R&R and visit my in-laws.  From California, it’s only a 6 hour drive.  The hotel had a 110 foot waterslide with a 900 foot lazy river.  The hotel was about a mile away and we needed to take a shuttle to get there so going back to the room for lunch was not possible.  The first day of our vacation I made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to take to the hotel so that we could use their pool.  The pool area was great; he stayed in the water for hours!  When it came time for lunch, we ordered from the pool bar restaurant and my son pulled out his sandwich.  An hour later, the pool manager came over to us and in a very nice way mentioned for future reference, the hotel doesn’t allow guests to bring food into the pool area.  Yes, I could have brought up the Americans with Disabilities Act and I’m sure he would have allowed us to continue to bring in sandwiches for my son but he was so nice I let it go.

The next day, we went back to the hotel pool; remember I said Arizona; the temperature was now in the triple digits.  So when lunch time came, it was too hot to eat poolside.  My husband went to the hotel restaurant to make sure they had chicken tenders and french fries.  What they had was teriyaki glazed chicken tenders with jasmine rice and vegetables.  He asked if he could just get plain chicken tenders and french fries and the hostess said that it was not on their menu, so we could not.

He found that odd, so he went to the hotel concierge and asked if any of the restaurants in the hotel serve regular chicken tenders and french fries.  She replied of course, room service has them and they control all the food supply in the hotel. His next response was, then why can’t I order chicken tenders in the restaurant.  She said that didn’t make any sense, so she called the chef in the restaurant and he said no problem.  The chef actually said in the coolest Australian accent, “I can do that all day long, mate.”

We ended up going to the hotel restaurant a couple of more times because it was in the triple digits and my son couldn’t get enough of the lazy river; so we ate lunch in the hotel as well.  Since, we had a new waiter each time we visited we had to have a long conversation everyday explaining what my son wanted.  Chefs are funny because many of them can’t help themselves to try and make even the most basic kids meal look fancy.  Today’s chicken tenders came out with the french fries covered in chopped parsley flakes to make it look pretty.  Unfortunately we had to ask them to take it back.

The third and last time we went to the hotel restaurant for lunch I started to explain again to the new waiter and he stopped me half way through and said, “oh you want it room service style, no worries.”  By the way, they came our perfectly so next time I just need to remember the magic words, “room service style” and it will come out just the way he likes it, plain with no garnish!!

However the search didn’t stop there.  One night my in-laws stayed with my son so we could go to dinner and a movie.  There was a nice complex across from where we stayed that included some unique restaurants.  After we finished dinner, there was still time before the movie began, so we decided to once again search for the elusive chicken tender.  Instead of going into Sephora to shop; we walked up and down the complex, going into every restaurant asking whether they make chicken tenders.  How funny is that…even when our son isn’t with us; he’s not far from our minds!  We stumbled across a nice Italian restuarant that had french fries….jackpot, close enough!

Sometimes we never find something my son will eat but we will still go to the restaurant.  Never fear….mama always carries a spare PB&J sandwich in those situations and we have never had a restaurant complain to us about it yet!!!!

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One Response to “The Search for the Elusive Chicken Tender”

  1. For years our son’s restaurant food of choice was grilled cheese sandwiches. We were even able to get one at a Chinese restaurant.
    His current favorite food is sautéed spinach. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many restaurants are willing to sauté spinach for him.

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