[Sca-cooks] Sca-cooks Digest, Vol 4, Issue 109

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius.magister at verizon.net
Sun Aug 20 09:30:35 PDT 2006

On Aug 20, 2006, at 11:14 AM, Tara Sersen Boroson wrote:

> Going back to my reference, I was mistaken.  Gluten ingredients are  
> used
> in the coating on fries, but it's not neccisarily flour, as Master
> Adamantius said.  McDonald's was just sued for failing to claim gluten
> and casien ingredients in their french fry seasoning, that they'd  
> listed
> as "natural flavorings".  I swear I saw a reference to flour being  
> used
> as the base for the coating on fries, too, but I can't find that now.
> The article that I can't find talked about how frozen fries become all
> soggy before the middles cook, so they're coated to become crisp and
> that coating typically contains wheat ingredients.

It wouldn't surprise me... what I'm most familiar with in frozen,  
commercial fries is that they're brined briefly, both to season/ 
flavor them, and to remove excess moisture to ensure a crisper  
product, then they're quickly fried until the potatoes are cooked  
through, but not browned. I've seen things like seasoned curly fries  
which are obviously coated with something that, presumably, includes  
some form of starch. I didn't know McDonald's did that, although it  
looks like Burger King does. Obvious the sensible thing to do would  
be to use potato starch...

Water chestnut flour, BTW, is adjudged by The Official Authorities  
and the American Old Wives Assocation as being the best, most crispy,  
flour for frying stuff...
> I had lunch at IKEA the other day.  I asked about the ingredients  
> in the
> swedish meatballs, suspecting there would be bread crumbs in them.   
> The
> guy quite literally gave me a song and dance (I mean, bobbing around
> while he was talking to me, ala Johnny Depp playing Jack Sparrow)
> telling me that "OH, NO!  The recipe is a company secret, just like  
> the
> chicken and KFC."  I said, "Uh, no.  By law, KFC, and you, have to  
> make
> the ingredients list available."  He kept arguing with me, then tried
> telling me that they get them in a bag and dump them in the microwave,
> but they sell them downstairs and I could go down there and look.   
> Then
> he asked what ingredient I was concerned about, so I said breadcrumbs.
> "Oh, no, there aren't breadcrumbs in meatballs!"  I said, "There are
> usually breadcrumbs in meatballs.  It's very common."  After all this
> song and dance, I sure as hell wasn't going to believe his claim that
> there were none.  He was clearly blowing hot steam out of his nether
> orifice.  I asked if I could look at the bag they got them in, and he
> evaded my question.  So, I walked away.  His manager chased me down  
> and
> asked what product I was inquiring about, and sure enough, they had
> breadcrumbs in them.  I was *livid*.  The worst part is... this isn't
> the first time I, or other people, have encountered similar attitudes.
> People get really defensive when I ask about ingredients, refuse to go
> ask.  I mean, it's not like I'm asking him to go out back and make me
> special meatballs on the fly.  I was just trying to gather the
> information to help me decide what to buy my daughter for lunch.  My
> older daughter wanted the meatballs, and I knew her younger sister  
> would
> agitate for them if I bought them.

My lady wife has a number of rather serious food allergies; mine  
aren't so bad, and only impact on my life inasmuch as I shouldn't eat  
shellfish too shortly before going to sleep, which isn't something I  
do anyway. But yes, my wife goes through the song-and-dance at  
restaurants all the time, and what a lot of people seem not to  
understand is that it doesn't take much of certain ingredients to  
make a susceptible person massively sick. One of the most common  
experiences for us is asking for salads without citrus and without  
tomato, getting them with, sending them back, and getting back the  
same salad with the most visible of the offending objects removed,  
but also with obvious juice and seeds indicating where the items had  
been (and still setting off allergic reactions).

The other frequent thing is servers and salespeople who simply don't  
know what's in the products they sell, other than in the most basic  
sense. This unfortunately leads them to believe that there's no  
reason there would ever be tomato in a brown gravy, for example, and  
that therefore there's no reason to believe that it's in there. As a  
result we're frequently assured there's no tomato in such-and-such,  
and no citrus juice. I then have to say that I have professional  
experience in producing this very kind of food, and that I know these  
ingredients are very frequently used in small amounts indiscernible  
to many people, but enough to incapacitate my wife for a couple of  
days, so would the server pleaser go and ask the person who made it,  
and explain that the issue is not personal or even religious  
preference, but connected with serious allergies. Then they go and  
ask, and either report that yes, we shouldn't order X, or that the  
chef says there's only a tiny bit, and it'll probably be all right. I  
then reply that my wife _probably_ won't need an ambulance, if we  
order properly.

I imagine that's what happened at Ikea: the sales clerk didn't know  
there was anything but meat in meatballs, assumed there wouldn't be  
anything bad in them, and told you what he thought you wanted to  
hear, and not what you needed to be told.


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