Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Where does the responsibility lie?

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My son recently got his license and therefore must have a zero blood alcohol when driving a car.

Son was about to leave when a guest ‘jokingly’ said he hoped my son would not be given an alcohol breath test as there was alcohol in the some of the food his wife made and brought along to share.  Son said he wished he’d been advised of this and guest said that it really was only a small amount and in reality probably wouldn’t affect a reading if son happened to be pulled over, so don’t worry. 

My question is – Should guests and hosts mention when they include alcohol (even in minute amounts) in food or should the onus be on drivers ask if alcohol is an ingredient?

It is one of my pet peeves when someone puts alcohol in something and doesn't tell anyone about it until after they have eaten it.  There are many people who for one reason or another can't have/don't want alcohol. For me, it can be fatal due to a very serious allergy.

Son should ask from now on if there is alcohol just to be sure with these "friends"

I think it depends on the amount used and how - is it a cake soaked in rum or a splash of cooking sherry in a sauce?  If it is something a person would get carded for when ordering in public, I'd definitely give a heads up.  If I knew someone was trying to avoid alcohol for whatever reason, I would also give a heads up.  If I had no reason to think alcohol would be a problem, it would depend on the item I am serving - I usually do mention when I use alcohol in cooking if it features in the dish, especially if it isn't obvious from looking that it might be in there.  Ex:  guinness & orange liqueur truffles.  If I put some mirin in a marinade for stir fry though, I probably wouldn't bother (even my parents who don't drink for religious reasons will consume that).   

It wouldn't occur to me to mention that I added a tablespoon if sherry to my sautéed mushrooms, a splash of bourbon in my pecan pie, or that the stew had a 1/4 cup of wine as I've always understood the alcohol cooks away and does not impact blood levels.  If I knew a guest did not consume alcohol for religious or dietary reasons I wouldn't cook with it.

But I'd also a guest would intuitively know that the rum soaked cake had alcohol that had not been cooked away.

For the most part I think its a shared responsibility. For most people a small amount of alcohol, especialy cooked alcohol, there is no issue whatsoever, so if someone absolutely cannot have any its on them to ask/let the person serving know of the restriction. If its enough to get a person tipsy/would get them carded in a restaurant/etc then the person serving should mention it.

Since your son can have zero alcohol I think he should have asked/mentioned in advance, especially this time year when people are apt to make more elaborate dishes.


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