[Sca-cooks] Vegetarian & Vegans was Re: lethal drinks

Dragon dragon at crimson-dragon.com
Tue Jul 22 08:48:53 PDT 2008

Lilinah wrote:
>I hesitated to jump in, because i've said most of this before, but, 
>well, here i am.

Hey, it's a discussion list, let's discuss.



>I'm in NoCal and we have some vegetarians at feasts. I'm happy to 
>cook so they can eat. It's easy. I just use a rich flavored 
>vegetable broth in non-meat dishes that call for meat broth. So they 
>can generally eat everything except the meat. Simple. I've never had 
>any expect special treatment, in fact they are often thrilled to 
>find they can eat the feast!

My problem isn't so much with providing for vegetarians, it's in 
dealing with the sense of entitlement some of them have displayed in 
some rather rude and unwelcome ways. I perhaps should have made that 
clear in my original statement.

>I do not cater to vegans (no fish, no eggs, no dairy, and usually no 
>honey), as that is difficult to do with Medieval/Renaissance 
>recipes, unless it's Lent, and that's only, what? 40 days a year? 
>I've never had one contact me, so i don't yet have a reason to 
>prepare purely vegan dishes for one or two, on the off change a 
>vegan will show up.

IF a vegan contacted me before a feast, I might be willing to explore 
other options, but this has not happened as yet. I try hard to make 
my menus known quite early on and I do try to include a variety of 
things both with and without meat but I think I have maybe served a 
half dozen dishes in the entire time I have been cooking for SCA 
functions (about 5 years now) that were even possibly vegan.

>As for allergies, my first feast had almonds in a huge percentage of 
>recipes (i love almonds :-). I can only hope no diners had almond 
>allergies. I realized what i'd done on the evening of the feast. Now 
>i just plan a feast so that common allergens are usually not 
>featured in more than one dish per course. AND i keep a hawk eye on 
>my cooks so that there's no cross-contamination. By autocrat 
>request, i have made feasts that were light on gluten - not gluten 
>free, but those with celiac disease could at least eat some of the 
>grain dishes.
>As for allowing those with allergies to have a few clues, i print up 
>"menus" for every diner that list all the ingredients in each dish, 
>so people can figure it out for themselves. (i'm in a college town 
>and photocopying is cheap - usually only 3 cents/person.) This is 
>becoming fairly standard practice here in the "Central West".
>I have always requested that potential diners with food issues 
>contact me before a feast, but hardly any ever have.

So it seems we have arrived at similar policies. I think these things 
are reasonable and workable. And we should be worrying about 
cross-contamination not just for allergy purposes but also for other 
health and safety reasons.

>Only one Principality feast was tricky. I planned a Greco-Roman 
>feast. Then not long beforehand i discovered that the Prince kinda 
>kept kosher (so no dairy and meat together); the Princess did not, 
>but was deathly allergic to nuts and honey (and honey was in nearly 
>every dish); and there were the usual vegetarians and some people 
>with fish allergies (and fish sauce was in nearly every dish).
>So i added a non-pork meat dish into a course featuring ham. Then 
>on-site i had the cooks make every dish up to a certain point, 
>leaving out the honey, nuts, dairy, and fish sauce. Then we 
>separated out a serving for the Prince w/o dairy (but added 
>everything else), a serving for the Princess w/o nuts or honey (but 
>added everything else), and one table's worth for the vegetarians 
>and fish-allergics w/o fish sauce (but with soy sauce for flavor, 
>and added everything else). Then everyone else got all their food 
>with everything.
>I figured that there would be about a table's worth of vegetarians 
>and fish-allergics (i.e. 8 diners), and i knew they would not all be 
>sitting together. So made sure i had a sharp person as their server 
>who'd remember where they were.
>It required some planning but was not difficult. I still only made 
>one feast, not a whole bunch of tiny servings of special dishes.

I think you handled that a lot better than I would have. Such a 
situation would have made me crazy.

>When i joined the SCA 9 years ago, people almost never reserved 
>tickets for feasts. They just showed up. The Feast Cook had to 
>assume a certain number of diners based on how many came the 
>previous year. But a couple years ago, for financial reasons, we 
>began limiting feasts to 60 paying diners (royalty being comped 
>theirs) and that meant people really had to reserve a place. We 
>still don't always require the money ahead of time, and if someone 
>doesn't show, then someone else can get a place. This is only a 
>problem when feasts are during bad weather season - some folks who 
>didn't pay don't show, and often there are no others to take their places.
>That happened to me last fall. More than 60 people requested 
>tickets, so at the autocrat's request, i planned to serve about 
>72+Royalty. Then the day of the event, the weather sucked - we had 
>only about 48 paying diners... Fortunately i planned a more modest 
>feast than is my usual - anticipating this problem during rainy 
>season, and we still made money on the feast. We just tossed out the 
>extra noodles and bulghur.

I am going to push for more consistency on this on events I agree to 
cook for. It would be VERY nice indeed to have reasonably firm 
commitment before preparing food. We did take reservations for the 
12th Night feast I headed this year but even there I was presented 
with a larger number of diners than I had been informed there would 
be. Fortunately, I tend to be rather generous with portions and there 
was enough for all.

We do generally put a firm limit on the number of meals to be sold 
but having confirmed and paid for reservations in advance would be a 
good thing.


  Venimus, Saltavimus, Bibimus (et naribus canium capti sumus)

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