[Sca-cooks] menu planning for dietary restrictions

grizly grizly at mindspring.com
Sun Aug 13 09:48:25 PDT 2006

-----Original Message-----
I've noticed a couple of trends in this discussion:

1. The comparison between low-fat/low-salt cooking and modifications to 
accommodate vegans, lactose-intolerance, nut/mushroom/etc allergies, and 
so on.

2. The repeated implication that 'flavor', 'tasty' & 'yummy' are 
incompatible with low-fat/low-salt recipes or recipe modifications.   < < < < < < 

My observations about the assumptions are thus:

#1  The other assumption in this line of logic appears to be that not low-fat/low-salt cooking is a problem that needs solving here and everywhere.

The reality that the suregeon General and any other agency out there describes a growing weight control problem in our culture dopes not equate to a mandate to SCA and other historical cooks to jump on a passing wagon with the band and redesign all the recipes we have (this is exaggeration for effect).  Sure we can, and many do, give a nod to maintaining a variety and balance in the meals we create.  The feast I research, develop, plan and create is ONE MEAL in the lives of people to whom I generally have no other personal or legal obligation.  I am providing them with an OPPORTUNITY to experience what I and my staff percieve as an appropriate meal, done as hstorically accurate as I can achieve given the many circumstances we live with today.  You can either pay and eat, or not pay and eat.  I provide far more than adequate documentation for informed consent, and will not take any further responsibility beyond good hospitality.

If 60% of the audience is allergic to nuts, the two things come into play.  First and foremost, 60% of the people had better be d at mned sure they know what is going into the dishes and take careful action to protect themselves and their personal medical conditions.  Second, I need to consider my philosophy of hospitality and committment thereto when developing my menu and provide very clear and careful informed consent.  I abjectly REFUSE to let your 60% of the people deprive the other 40% of an experience with the idea that ". . . . it would really be crazy to include nuts in just about *any* feast dish. . . ".  I will take precautions to assure no undue risk to those with health risks who are taking on themselves the responsibilities for thier medical conditions.  There is also the fiduciary responsibility I have to the local group and SCA, Inc. in presenting afeast at a sanctioned event. . . . see discussion of clear and readily available documentation of all recipes and ingredient lists.

About #2: Your whole commentary in the latest email seems on my end of the email computer terminal, while considered and poterntially rational, to be founded/motivated almost entirely on my interprestation of your premise one . . . .that SCA and historical cooks.  If grown responsible adults are managing their lifestyles and nutritional habits, then Saturday night feasts or occasional other meals experienced responsibly and in moderation appropriate totheir overall lifestyle needs, then whatever is presented is sufficient.  This goes for people who have the manage allergies, fat, sodium, cholesterol or their brown glop intake levels.

The direction the thread is taking is really appearing to me to be along ideological lines.  They are lines that transcend SCA cookery and move tothe culture at large:  where the primary responsibility and action locus belongs in managing health and dietary conditions and needs.  My personal sensibilities and hospitality call for me to make general concessions for general sensibilities.  I will also do my best to provide options for peoople who contact me personally to ask for such consideration.  I post this willingness publicly in event advertising in print and on the web.  In my 15 years working in feast kitchens I was contacted by agrand total of 12 people asking for dietary considerations.  7 of those people, on reading my menu and ingredients lists found their dietary needs addressed, and they enjoyed the feast to give me word fame for years.

Given that my personal committment is to such considerations (and my peers in cookery around our state and area are very similar) I find it personally especially rude and inconsiderate for this sort of activism to occur in our hobby.  I have news for your and any <<insert nutritional extremist group here>>> out there . . . when the cusine and recipes of today become extinct, there will be a reinactment movement in the future to revive that cuisine to see what it was like and what it had to offer.  Our cookbooks of today will then be historical research texts that people set up email groups to discuss.  As a matter my belief . . . in an generally low salt, low fat society, there will rise up another counter-movement to extoll the luxury of saltier and fattier options.  It is the ebb and flow of culture and life.

niccolo difrancesco
(the Vikings didn't have the same technology we do to preserve our way of life when or if another climatic change begins to develop)

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list