[Sca-cooks] Largesse: What to avoid.

Judith Epstein judith at ipstenu.org
Mon Aug 10 07:13:42 PDT 2009

On Aug 10, 2009, at 8:58 AM, Gretchen Beck wrote:

>> 1. I LOVE feeding people, so I hate to say it, but avoid food items  
>> for
>> largesse.
>> If someone comes to eat at your table, they can ask what  
>> ingredients are
>> involved.
> Food largesse should be handled just like an item sold at the grocery
> store. Always, always, always, list full ingrediants, and package it  
> to
> avoid cross contamination. Other than that (and that some people are  
> leery
> about eating something whose origins they don't know, I don't see a  
> problem
> with food based largese.
> Now, one thing that is true -- don't give alchohol (most people feel  
> it is
> extremely foolhardy to drink from an unsealed container of unknown  
> origin),
> and don't give anything that can "go bad" without refrigeration.

As someone who lived vegetarian for a decade, keeps kosher, and  
regularly hosts family and friends with some serious allergies, I can  
tell you that even if someone lists what they actually put into the  
mixing bowl, they don't list everything that was being cooked in the  
room at the same time. Glutinous wheat flour dust, hanging in the air  
while someone makes biscuits on one side of the kitchen, CAN make a  
difference to someone with Celiac disease, if you're making them a  
"gluten free" item on the other side of the kitchen. For someone whose  
allergies could hospitalize them if they eat something that isn't  
certified gluten free/egg free/nut free/et cetera, a gift of food can  
be dangerous -- all the more so when it's carefully labelled with the  
ingredients (that go into the actual recipe) versus the possible  
contaminants (that were in the air, or that may linger in a cooking  
pot even after the pot is washed).

Too, the recipient may have other restrictions that the giver  
(firsthand or more distantly, as from the originator to the royal to  
the baron to the bard) won't necessarily be able to take properly into  
account. If someone says "I keep kosher," that still may mean  
something different, unless the item is certified by a reputable  
kashrut certification agency. For one of my family members, "I keep  
kosher" means that there's no actual pork or shellfish in the  
ingredients list; for another, it means that, plus no mixing of meat  
and dairy. For some it means that meat and dairy are cooked on  
separate dishes, but served on the same dishes (and the dishes are  
washed in the same sink, using the same sponge). For me, it's a LOT  
more extensive, so even if someone tells me "This is kosher," I am not  
always able to trust that statement to mean the same thing that I mean  
when I say it. Just listing the ingredients isn't always enough.

Judith / no SCA name yet

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