[Sca-cooks] Minor rant - allergies and following directions

Susan Lin susanrlin at gmail.com
Tue May 8 17:36:56 PDT 2012

my 2 cents:

I do my best to make sure there are vegetarian options as well as meat
option.  If I know someone has an allergy (an "I might die" allergy) and I
know they are attending feast I do my best to make sure there are items
they can eat.  If someone has not told me about an allergy before the
cut-off for feast then it's not my problem.  If they come up to me the day
of the event to say they're allergic to wheat, rice, corn, beans, spinach,
etc. I tell them what is in what and they make the choice if they can

People in the SCA are adults or if they are not adults they should be
supervised by adults.  If someone has an "it'll kill me" allergy they
should know and they should be proactive in making sure the feast
coordinator/cook knows.  I do not think it is your responsibility to
rearrange your feast for someone who hasn't bothered to tell you they're
allergic to something until the day of.

Someone telling me "I don't like..." well, then I tell them what's in the
dishes and they decide if they want to eat.  Trying to please everyone will
just tie you up in knots.  People who have a multitude of allergies should
ask to work with you to arrange some dishes they can eat or they should not
expect to eat feast.  Here we have a number of people with multiple
allergies and they don't even ask to eat feast.  Sometimes I tell them
what's available and they happily sign up because I'm able
to accommodate them but they don't expect it.

What you are doing is laudable but people won't appreciate your hard work
in trying to accommodate their needs and you should do what's right for you.

Good luck.


On Mon, May 7, 2012 at 11:25 PM, Tre <trekatz at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I copied this from my blog, because the final question is relevant here,
> and something I'm interested in some input on. When do I finally say "it's
> not my problem"?
> -------------------------------------------------------------
> I'm the head cook for the upcoming Insulae Draconis Coronet
> Tournament this weekend. For those of you who may not know, at most SCA
> events in the UK (and generally mainland Europe as well, from what I can
> tell), food for the weekend is included in your site fee.
> I am very concerned with making sure everyone gets enough to eat, and
> that the balance of nutrition available for each person is appropriate
> (i.e. making sure there is a reasonable protein option for vegetarians,
> not just a bunch of side dishes.) In order to accommodate this, I need
> to know ahead of time what allergies and other dietary restrictions I'm
> dealing with.
> In the past, I've cooked for events where someone came up to me on the day
> and said, for example, "I'm allergic
> to onions; what's safe to eat?" Ack! Onions go in almost EVERYTHING! I
> then scramble to make an extra dish or two without onions (or try to
> find something that the onions haven't gone into yet to pull a portion
> out that is then safe for the allergy). This was someone who apparently
> had told the reservation steward for the event, and the information got
> lost along the way so I never received it.
> Likewise,
> I've gotten vague information from the reservation steward such as "Lady
> Gretel says she's allergic to Fructose". Fructose? What exactly does
> that entail? I know it's in fruit...so anything with any fruit, fruit
> juice, dried fruit...is it used as an additive...Ack! When I then go
> back to the reservation steward who then goes back to Lady Gretel and
> asks about it, I get an answer such as "I'm not really sure what all I'm
> allergic to, and it's not that bad anyway, so don't worry about it."
> Really? REALLY? So even if I "don't worry about it" and don't do
> anything different, I still worry a bit that something she eats will
> make her sick.
> So in order to avoid some of this
> confusion and frustration, I've come up with a new method for getting
> the information I need all consolidated into one spot. I made a form
> through Google Docs, have it posted on the website (or e-mailed out on
> the group list or individually to people who have made reservations)
> with a plea to PLEASE fill out the form - because the cool thing about
> the Google Docs Form is that it consolidates all the answers for me onto
> ONE spreadsheet. I don't have to worry that I've forgotten to put
> someone's information in, or that the reservation steward missed
> someone. ALL the information for the specific event is on one sheet.
> Since I write the questions for the form, I can even make sure that they
> are
> worded in a (hopefully) fool-proof manner to get the information I
> actually need. For example, one of the questions I have on the form is
> "Do you have any plant-based allergies?" With the explanation that "I
> sometimes cook with items which are not always thought of when listing
> food allergies, such as nettles and hedgerow berries." This means that I
> find out ahead of time if I have people allergic to nettles before
> mixing them into the cooked greens or making a nettle soup. (Honestly -
> if it's not listed in the name of the dish, how many people are going to
> look at an ingredient list for Nettles if they don't have any food
> allergies?) I can also ask, on the form, for the person's name and
> e-mail in case I have further questions regarding their dietary needs.
> I don't know if people realize that this form is as much for my peace of
> mind as it is for their health and safety. Now, the reason for this rant
> is that - even after having a link to the form on the event website,
> and sending several e-mails to the group e-mail list and posting it on
> the Principality's facebook group, when I got the list of event
> reservations from the reservation steward, there are STILL people listed
> on there, with allergies listed that they sent on their reservation NOT on
> a form, who have not filled out the form so I have the information
> Granted, this is only the second
> event I've done the form for, but I don't think I could have been any
> more clear. I have people even in my local group who have said "you know
> my allergies, right?" and even though I've asked them to please fill
> out the form anyway, so it's on the combined information list, here we
> are four days before the event, and they still haven't done it.
> I do have to say, though, that there is one lovely lady who has several
> allergies that I have gotten used to working with. She asked if she
> needed to fill out the form even though I have her information, and was
> quite understanding when I explained that yes, I did need it separately
> for each event, but that a "short list" instead of full explanations
> would be fine now. So basically now she can just write "no alcohol"
> instead of having to list "no alcohol, including wine vinegars, but
> cider vinegar is fine". We've worked out the specifics of her allergies, I
> just need the note so I remember that yes, she'll be there and if I'm
> making things ahead of time I know which vinegars went into which
> dishes, or I remember to cook the stew with broth instead of beer as a
> base.
> So, with it being four days before the event, and people still not filling
> out the form as requested...when do I just say "It's not my problem", even
> though they gave the information someplace
> else?
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