[Sca-cooks] menu planning for dietary restrictions

Stephanie Ross hlaislinn at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 13 23:35:33 PDT 2006

Not that this thread was directed at me, but I'm going to butt in anyway:

Duriel wrote:
>Just a guess on my part, but by your choice of phrases, it appears 
> that you're hostile to the idea of healthier menu planning.

To me it is a non-issue, so there is no point in being hostile. I haven't
eaten or been served many dishes in the SCA that are "fattening" by current
modern standards. Foods made with milk sauces, or smothered in cheese, or
deep fried in fat don't often appear in the feasts I have eaten/observed,
if they are based on medieval recipes. Our ancestors didn't eat the kind of
crap we do, nor were they drowning in salt the way we are. The best way to
create a "healthier" menu and still stay true to the period recipes is to
control the portions. Serve the white torta but serve a small sliver so the
guests have room for the other courses. 

> To a lesser extend, if the historical recipe actually *has*  measurements
> and calls for 2 cups of oil plus 12 eggs and I decide to use 1 cup or
> oil plus 6 eggs (with other things added to compensate), do you see me
> as working against the policies of the SCA?

The SCA has no "policies" regarding what we serve at feast, so this
question is ridiculous, IMO. I do see it being "historically disingenuous"
as you put it, especially if you cannot give examples that the author of
said recipe could have used whatever you "added to compensate" for not
following the recipe. If you used cream of tartar or the modern powdered
egg substitute, then you have created a different recipe than the one
given, and it would not be medieval to me and you could not call it such.
If you could show that they did use your substitutions in that culture and
timeperiod, I would admire your cleverness, but still consider the finished
product to be apocryphal and different than the recipe.

> You resent (well, find it rude and inconsiderate) that this reality could
have ramifications for the SCA.

I forsee very little in the way of ramifications for the SCA concerning
food. If people have dietary problems with what is served, they can bring
their own food, or leave site for dinner, which is virtually guaranteed to
be worse on the dietary scale that what was being served at feast. It's
called free will, and intelligent people exercise it on a daily basis. We
have a club that is more accepting of obesity than most other clubs. People
don't want to be preached at concerning their weight, or worry that the
food police will watch every bite they take. Going out of the way to make
food less caloric is actually insulting to the diners. God knows they
probably ate McDeath on their way to site, and when they leave Sunday
morning will head to the nearest buffet to pig out before they go home.
Sitting down to a medieval meal once a month is not going to change their
mundane eating habits or make them any heavier. Give the people many
different dishes to choose from in a balanced manner with satisfying but
not huge portions, and let them decide what of it to eat.

> How about SCA policies on
> smoking? Alcohol? Juveniles? Armor standards? Site fee surcharges?

None of these points has anything to do with cutting the calories of the
food we serve at events.

>Just encouraging and promoting a philosophical change
> in priorities that reflects current realities!

Your encouraging is beginning to feel like harping. Feasts in the SCA do
not make people fat, mundane food does. If we were feeding people daily,
your argument might be more valid. As has already been expressed by others,
feast is seldom even eaten weekly. It is a treat and part of the medieval
experience we are trying to recreate. 

> Do you see recent trends of obesity as different from the elimination of
> indoor smoking that has happened in the past decade?

Uh, YEAH! You are comparing apples and oranges here. Smoking is a choice,
but the smoke coming off the end of the cigarette affects others. I am a
smoker, but i hate people smoking around me while I'm eating because it
affects the taste of the food. I don't smoke around folks who are eating
for that reason out of courtesy. I've been in 25 years, and no one has ever
been able to smoke in the feast hall in my Kingdom. Mundane fire codes and
the like. Even in the early 80's we always held our "smokers' guild
meetings" outside. Smoking and obesity are mutually exclusive. One really
has nothing to do with the other. I don't expect people to tell me I can't
smoke outside at events any more than I expect anyone to say ,"The populace
has gotten too fat, so from now on the feastcrats must watch the fat and
calories of all their dishes". Ain't gonna happen, this is still America
the free, and the populace wouldn't stand for a SCAdian gestapo telling
them how to act. We would lose members in my Kingdom in droves.

> Do you believe that the trends of increased obesity that have been
> documented over the past 40 years are a 'passing wagon'? How about 
> the growing child obesity problem? Same 'passing wagon'?

Not my problem, and nothing I can fix as an individual. It's not my job to
police the sheeple, just to make sure that MY kids are eating healthy and
are not obese. I accomplished that by raising them vegetarian. My choice.
Other people make other choices. More power to them. If you really want to
see the source of the mundane obesity problem, look to our food supply and
the corporations who make money feeding us the fast-food slop they create.
It will only pass when people start using their brains and exercising free
will instead of taking the easy way out and eating fast-food all the time.
If people didn't buy the slop there wouldn't be a market for any of it.
Education and not dictation is key.

>You don't differentiate between encouraging positive alternatives and a

Do you? Your tone has hardly been encouraging of late, more along the lines
of argumentative (and let me tell you, I know from argumentative!). My job
as a feastcrat is to serve food that the populace will eat. Bottom line. It
doesn't even HAVE to be medieval; there are no rules about it. But we on
this list are working to make our dishes as period as mundanely possible
because it trips our triggers to do so. It is a personal challenge that
each of us takes up in different ways. It's that free will thing again. We
choose to share with each other on this list our personal journey to that
end, our own personal end. There is no final end result that we are
competing with each other to achieve. This list is nothing but encouraging
of its members, and if you'd quit trying to hammer your points home that
were heard and understood half a dozen posts ago, maybe you'd learn
something. Your recent posts have taken up a lot of time and bandwidth that
could have been spent discussing food, instead of philosophy over a
free-will issue that none of us as cooks have a whole lot of control over.
Why not do something concrete concerning your argument that medieval
recipes need to be converted to lower fat alternatives by taking a high-fat
medieval recipe, converting it your way without changing the flavor or
texture, then giving us the worked-out recipe to try ourselves? It's a lot
easier to convert people with cold, hard evidence than hypotheticals (and
easier to gain their respect too).
Et si omnes ego non.

"The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the
first and only legitimate object of good government." --Thomas Jefferson to
Maryland Republicans, 1809.

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