Friday, May 25, 2012

Batch of links

- A few ideas on how to get your bacon fix if you are vegetarian or vegan.

- As I feared: the so-called gluten-free pizza at Domino’s isn’t actually free of gluten, as Domino’s cannot provide an environment free of cross-contamination. I take issue with the use of the term “gluten-free” in this context, then, as do others (see here or here).

- And while I’m linking to Gluten-Free Girl (Shauna Ahern): it boggles my mind to read all the vehement comments in response to her posts on Epi-Log (the Epicurious blog), to which she recently started contributing. For example, she recently wrote one about how to cook gluten-free for guests, which I found to be helpful for anyone who has to feed someone with gluten intolerance (or sensitivity) and isn’t sure how to go about it. But go take a look at the comments on that post (which are presented in reverse chronological order): immediately, she is assaulted by people saying that they wouldn’t dream of imposing those kinds of restrictions on their hosts (“how dare she be such a demanding guest”, “she doesn’t represent the celiac community”), and other people criticizing her lack of medical knowledge, even though she never claimed to be writing from a medical perspective. I don’t understand what has ruffled people’s feathers here; all she does is remind us about cross-contamination, either from the ingredients themselves or from surfaces and utensils in the home, about not going overboard making elaborate gluten-free dishes when a simple (safe, inexpensive) meal will do, and about not hesitating to ask your guests for help or guidance. That’s all perfectly reasonable to me. Moreover, when I host dinner guests, it is extremely important to me not to make them sick! If I’m preparing food for someone with a nut allergy, I find it crucial to avoid serving nuts or anything that could have been cross-contaminated (and when in doubt, I either omit the ingredient or ask that person for his advice). The same applies if I’m feeding someone with gluten intolerance; it’s true that in this case, feeding them gluten would “only” make them sick for a few days, not kill them from anaphylactic shock, but I still don’t want it to happen. And as someone who is lactose-intolerant, when I go to dinner at the house of a close friend or relative (who is obviously aware of my condition), I don’t expect the whole meal to be lactose-free, but I do expect to be able to eat enough there safely to be satiated. Who are those people who would have guests over and not care about their safety? And who are those people with food restrictions who don’t care what they are fed? I just can’t understand that! It’s been like this on every one of her posts, and I am just flabbergasted as to why readers are so angry and hostile toward a columnist. Some go so far as to say that anyone with positive comments is either a personal friend of Mrs. Ahern or one of her “white knights” she’s had to call to her rescue, as if she were some kind of fraud. Some find her snobby, but I find her so very down-to-earth (I mean, just because she’s not telling you how to make a gluten-free bologna sandwich doesn’t mean she only eats fancy food; obviously you must know this if you read her posts, since you’re on a food blog in the first place). If you don’t care about what you feed people, then given the post’s title, it clearly wasn’t for you in the first place.

- When I went gluten-free, a Tumblr site that had me laughing out loud, about the problems faced by people avoiding gluten. It’s cathartic!

- Massachussetts could become the first state to ban food waste! Instead of throwing food away, businesses would have to dispose of it through programs that reuse it for composting or energy. Brilliant!

- I’m usually a very quiet person, and I certainly don’t yell at the television often. Prior to last week, the last time I remember yelling at the screen was while watching Paula Deen make something (some kind of chicken casserole drowned in dairy), and as she said “Now just sprinkle some fresh parmesan on there,” she poured out stuff from a green can (um, hello? stuff from a can has nothing to do with fresh parmesan!). But last Friday, May 19th, I was watching the morning news program from an Arkadelphia hotel room and heard that the Louisiana Senate has overturned a law adopted by the House that would have banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. That in itself is frustrating, but according to the newscasters, the reason given by the Senate is that there is no evidence that using a cellphone while driving is any MORE dangerous than, for example, reading a newspaper while driving. Wait, what?!? That’s right, the Louisiana Senate thinks it’s fine to read the morning paper while driving to work! GAAHHH!!! Start by outlawing reading newspapers and books while driving if that’s really the problem, then move on to cellphones, people!

- I haven’t mentioned it on here, but of course I’ve been trying to keep up with the student strike in Quebec and discussing it with friends on Facebook and with the Engineer. Here’s an article that does a pretty good job of summing up recent events. I won’t go into a diatribe to fully explain my position argument by argument, but suffice it to say that I think the students and their supporters make very valid points. Of course, I do not condone any actions that result in violence, intimidation or destruction of property, be it from students or police officers, but the actions of some cannot (or should not) detract from the overall issues at stake. While the government does have a point in that universities cannot continually operate in the red, I do not like its kneejerk reaction of hiking tuition fees, especially since it hasn’t worked all that well since 2007. And I think it took too long to offer to talk with student associations. There are other problems to deal with such as mismanagement of financial resources by the universities themselves as well as poor long-term prioritizing by the government. I also don’t believe that it’s fair to compare Quebec only to provinces and states within geographical proximity to say that tuition fees should be higher without also acknowledging that those states are in the developed country with the highest tuition fees in the world, the biggest student debt in the world, and very poor social mobility. How about comparing ourselves to countries where state investment in education pays off, like Denmark or Sweden? Anyway, all this to say that I hope the government and students can resume good faith negotiations soon and agree on a solution to solve the immediate problem, then go from there.

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