To not tell my colleague the meal she's been eating is against her religion

(53 Posts)
CrystalBeth Wed 23-Apr-14 11:04:24

I regularly attend conferences with my colleague (who I don't know particularly well), there is usually a couple of us who go and we always visit a particular restaurant afterwards. Said colleague often moans (don't blame her) that there is limited things she can eat on the menu because the meat isn't halal and she can't eat anything that anything that's cooked in alcohol, therefore she always orders a particular fish dish from the menu (there are other options).

So, we went for the meal yesterday and I fancied having the fish dish myself (it was very naice) and notably said in the description that it was cooked in gin. I have this morning realised that my colleague has been eating a dish cooked in alcohol that's against her religion confused surely she has noticed in the 5+ times she's eaten it as it's clearly stated on the menu?

I should tell her, I know I should, but I don't want to really upset her or make her feel like she's done wrong in her religion and given it's just me and her and a four hour train ride this afternoon I don't know if I can face it. AIBU?

Why would you tell her? I think it's best not to

I wouldn’t. But next time might point at the menu and say something like "oh no! They’ve started cooking the fish in gin"

PlumpPartridge Wed 23-Apr-14 11:09:26

I think I'd probably mention it and then soothe her upset by talking it over. She ate the dish in good faith, she didn't realise, God forgives such things. She doesn't need to worry but she probably won't want to eat it again.

I grew up in a Muslim country and have dealt with similar situations before - those are my qualifications grin

Youdontneedacriminallawyer Wed 23-Apr-14 11:09:56

What Emmanuel said. What would you achieve by telling her now? Just bring the "change in menu" to her attention next time.

daphnehoneybutt Wed 23-Apr-14 11:15:36

I mentioned to my colleagues who don't eat beef that there was beef products in Haribo.

This was in no way connected to me wanting more Haribo for myself...

I wouldn't tell her - where will you eat then? I reckon she is turning a blind eye...

CrystalBeth Wed 23-Apr-14 11:15:39

Well I thought I should tell her to avoid the mistake happening again, but good idea about the change in menu, I will definitely mention it next time we go.

sashh Wed 23-Apr-14 11:21:57

Tell her, she might never have heard of Gin.

One of my colleagues brought Shandy in, thinking that because it is sold next to coca-cola it would be OK.

I would also tell her that most of the alcohol will have been cooked out so what's left is probably about the same as a piece of ripe fruit.

ClearlyMoo Wed 23-Apr-14 11:23:07

I once told a muslim colleague that Sherry trifle contained alcohol after he'd eaten it (and enjoyed it). He was SO ANGRY and upset. I wish I'd never told him!

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 23-Apr-14 11:23:40

I'd tell her.

TheAwfulDaughter Wed 23-Apr-14 11:27:40

The alcohol would have been cooked out wouldn't it? confused

MysweetAudrina Wed 23-Apr-14 11:32:03

Surely when you cook something in alcohol the alcohol cooks off and therefore it is no longer alcoholic. I stopped drinking alcohol for religious reasons but would still use it in cooking where a recipe called for it.

Nocomet Wed 23-Apr-14 11:32:49

Assuming your colleague has read the menu, I'd say absolutely nothing.

My DF is Jewish, she likes to keep Kosher, but she doesn't live in an area with a large Jewish population, so no kosher restaurants or butchers.

She knows when she eats out that she cannot guarantee the veg will be checked for insects or the pans used cleaned to orthodox standards. She doesn't worry too much about non veggie cheese. She goes to a progressive synagogue and says exact interpretation of the food laws is not something you ask people about.

Eating out in a country where yours is not the majority faith, requires a bit of pragmatism. Your colleague may decide the alcohol has boiled away, may not care (and may even drink in private occasionally). It's non of your business.

GotMyGoat Wed 23-Apr-14 11:33:47

Stephen Fry told me it was a bit of a myth that all the alcohol gets cooked off...

CrystalBeth Wed 23-Apr-14 11:41:12

I did once mention that the alcohol is cooked off during cooking but she was absolutely adamant that she couldn't eat anything cooked in alcohol.

Maybe she actually has noticed and has decided to eat it anyway? Then if I told her I'd make her feel guilty and forced to stop eating it!

oscarwilde Wed 23-Apr-14 11:44:41

If you are all regularly attending, I would ask her if there is somewhere else she would like to try this time and don't be selfish just because there is a majority.

Alcohol does cook out, but there is residual alcohol depending on the length of time it has been cooked for. I forget the exact times but something along the lines of 45 mins for a glass of wine. It's unlikely therefore, it will have been cooked out in a fish dish unless it was a dash in the sauce. Any decent chef will be able to leave out the alcohol in any case unless it is something like beef bourgignon smile

Point out the change in the menu if you feel that she might have never heard of Gin, otherwise I would assume that she has decided its the least of the evils present on the menu and is being pragmatic.

oscarwilde Wed 23-Apr-14 11:45:40

Maybe she actually has noticed and has decided to eat it anyway? Then if I told her I'd make her feel guilty and forced to stop eating it!
Exactly. You can always tell her that you never drink Gin & Tonics and see if she asks what Gin is.

Yambabe Wed 23-Apr-14 11:46:25

Fish cooked in gin? hmm Really?

I love to cook and I love to eat out but I've never encountered anything cooked in gin before! How did it taste?

lurkerspeaks Wed 23-Apr-14 11:56:12

I wouldn't tell her but would highlight it if you go back.

Out of interest why do you always go somewhere that is difficult for her? I have several muslim friends of varying degrees of observancy - finding interesting food they can eat isn't difficult.

One my the above friends is a bit of a foodie and prone to ordering things she wants to try even if she suspects she isn't meant to eat them eg. me pointing out lardons were bacon was deemed unhelpful as that meant she couldn't now have it whereas if she hadn't known it would have been ok!

The food stuff that I confess to keeping quiet about containing alcohol is posh vanilla extract - makes cakes taste so much better… neither of them have ever asked if I use it and I don't volunteer the info.

Alcohol isn't burned off. It certainly won't be in a dish with fish in.

I'm Vegan and have had Muslim/Indian friends, they (and I) have found out later that something has contained Bovine Gelatine etc.

Most people in this situation process this as it not counting as it was not a conscious act.

I would do as suggested, being up that they are now cooking the fish in alcohol.

It is then an informed choice, she may have to take the lesser of evils, I have had to, on occassion when dropping to Vegetarian.

Andrewofgg Wed 23-Apr-14 12:02:43

if you might go again, tell her. If not, not.

TillyTellTale Wed 23-Apr-14 12:43:26

If she's previously said she's strict about alcohol in cooking, I think it's quite likely she just doesn't know what gin is. A Muslim from a Muslim family could easily be unfamilar with the less common kinds of spirit.

If you go again, go with the "they've changed the menu!" suggestion. Or, go somewhere else with good vegetarian/pescetarian options.

bigdog888 Wed 23-Apr-14 12:45:55

She can eat anything she wants on the menu - she chooses not to. That's a big difference in my opinion. I wouldn't say anything and just let her get on with it as I would anyone who chooses to restrict their diet.

TheScience Wed 23-Apr-14 12:47:06

Most (not all) alcohol is cooked off in slow cooked things - a casserole or bolognese that is cooked for an hour or more.

Most alcohol will remain in something like a fish dish that is cooked quite briefly.

eightandthreequarters Wed 23-Apr-14 12:51:17

Said colleague often moans (don't blame her) that there is limited things she can eat on the menu

Choose a different restaurant?

But I wouldn't say anything about the gin. I think she knows what it is. If I see an ingredient I'm not familiar with, I ask what it is. This option must have occurred to her!

maras2 Wed 23-Apr-14 12:54:21

WTF. Who cooks fish in gin ? Where on earth do you eat ? < bleurgh >

peggyundercrackers Wed 23-Apr-14 12:56:42

she has read the menu and ordered what she wanted - i dont see what it has to do with you.

londonrach Wed 23-Apr-14 13:00:55

Don't tell her. Next time you at the restaurant point out a change of menu carefully. My dad ummed and erred about raking an old veggie couple (be friends with my gran since the 1930sso known then all my life)in their 90s that their marg continued animal fat. He decided to leave it in the end as why upset them. They now passed but for all their life (94 and 98 years old) this amazing couple were veggie with most grown in their own garden. Still miss their amazing meals....

rinabean Wed 23-Apr-14 13:01:53

Tell her subtly like Emmanuel said.

5Foot5 Wed 23-Apr-14 13:03:53

I agree with eightandthreequarters, can you not find a different restaurant? Presumably if she has this dish every time it is because it is the only thing she thinks she can eat. So if you keep going there you can't suggest an alternative for her and if she does find out then what is she going to do?

nicename Wed 23-Apr-14 13:06:02

Fish in gin! Well I never!

I would mention it to her. She may be cross that you haven't mentioned it before though. Its not technically a 'sin' if you genuinely didn't know and/or it wasn't avoidable (god doesn't condem a starving person from eating non halal if it meant life or death).

As a veggie, I can only assume that I have eaten/drunk things with dead animals in it over the years without my knowledge.

Gruntfuttock Wed 23-Apr-14 13:31:15

It's all very well, but telling her that there's been a change in the menu and the fish dish now contains gin, probably won't work, because she must've seen the word 'gin' in the description and not known that it was alcohol and she'll surely remember that it always said that, just that no one told her what it was before.

WooWooOwl Wed 23-Apr-14 13:41:43

I wouldn't say anything. Her food choices are up to her to eraser he and abide by. I think it's actually quite rude of her to moan about the menu at the groups chosen restaurant. Presumably she isn't forced to go, and it's not as if this choice is a medical requirement.

It is incredibly difficult to give everyone exactly what they want when eating out as a group, and if you change plans for one person then you have to do it for everyone, which gets complicated, especially if you're in an area with limited choice of restaurants.

nicename Wed 23-Apr-14 13:54:55

I never moan about choice of restaurants (might do if its a steak house) and manage fine. I certainly wouldn't 'shoot the messanger' if I found out there was a meat product in a meal. I may be a bit miffed if someone watched me eat it a few times before telling me!

To be honest, if she lives in the country and presmably eats out,then her choice of dietary restrictions should mean that she does her homework. If she was that worried, she would stick to veggie food. How could she not have heard of gin, they advertise it all over and its not exactly an obscure drink?

From my years in corporate entertaining, there aren't all that many who dobt 'bend' dietary requirements when eating at a function!

You wouldn't believe the fuss some people make before an event, then you see them face down in the prawn vol a vonts (and they know exactly what it is). I am thinking in particular about one client who insisted on a kosher meal/wine being provided at a dinner, then went on to eat/drink everythig else too.

TheRealAmandaClarke Wed 23-Apr-14 14:17:47

One of the most fabulous meals I ate was monkfish cooked in gin and lime.
Oh glory be. It was a thing of wonder.

And it's true that much of the alcohol remains after cooking. The amount "burned off" varies depending on the cooking method/ time. But there'll still be some present in most dishes.

NoodleOodle Wed 23-Apr-14 14:21:36

I would let her know if she goes to order it again.

AndIdratherplayhereWithalltheM Wed 23-Apr-14 14:39:44

Just leave her!

Maybe she has ignored it and just wants to eat it, you bringing it up will make her feel awkward and stop her from eating it!

I had similar at a wedding, I was quite prepared at 5 months pregs to eat the shell fish, I trusted the establishment, top notch wedding, and as I made a reach for the shared shell fish starter....two other guests turned into their business to tell me I should not be eating shell fish, I said i was very happy too, and they went on and on and on.

In the end I was embarrased out of eating it and just sat there with diddly squat.

keep your nose out.

AndIdratherplayhereWithalltheM Wed 23-Apr-14 14:45:43

she can read, leave her be!

Falconi Wed 23-Apr-14 14:53:13

Up to her to find out what gin is, specially if she needs to be careful about what she eats.

AdoraBell Wed 23-Apr-14 15:08:55

She can read the menu, either she has read it and chooses to order the fish or she hasn't bothered to read it as closely as some might think she should.

Either way I wouldn't tell her, you haven't forced her to eat that dish and her diet isn't your responsibility. If it were an allergy obviously you should tell her.

Some people do eat things that go against their religion when they can get away with it. I remember a rellie's GF stopping the bacon sarnies she gave her DCs while the divorce went through because her ex took their Jewish heratige much more seriously than she did. Once everything was settled bacon was back on the menu.

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 23-Apr-14 15:11:18

If she is going to revisit the restaurant, I would tell her.

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 23-Apr-14 15:12:38

Is English her first language?

EhricLovesTheBhrothers Wed 23-Apr-14 15:17:40

Yes! tell her. She may be upset about having eaten it before but it's her own fault. Why wouldn't you want to bring it to her attention now? Just to spare upset? But she may realise anyway and still be upset. This way you have saved her even more eating of something she doesn't want to eat.
I'm veggie and if I had been eating something that wasn't veggie without realising, but someone I knew had realised, I'd be most upset by them not telling me tbh.
My XH is Muslim and ate pork once by accident. He got over it because he didn't do it intentionally.

TheScience Wed 23-Apr-14 15:19:46

Next time she orders it I think I would have to say "gin is alcohol, isn't it?" or something similar.

Quinteszilla Wed 23-Apr-14 15:25:49

You sure it was gin, and not gin^ger^?

peggyundercrackers Wed 23-Apr-14 15:37:10

i cant believe the amount of people who think its their business to point something obvious out to someone else when its absolutely nothing to do with them. and some people wonder why they get the rude answers from people. MYOB!

I wouldn't say anything. Her diet is her choice, it's due to belief not allergy or intolerance (it's a choice to be religious after all), and if she's going to be upset at mistakes she needs to do a bit more research doesn't she. Gin is a common alcoholic drink, available at all supermarkets, advertised on TV, so there's no excuse not to have heard of it.

CrystalBeth Wed 23-Apr-14 15:46:52

This particular restaurant is the only one that's actually at the conference venue, if we were to go to an alternative we'd all have to drive somewhere else and this is by far the most convenient as it's in the same hotel.

There are lots of other veggie options on the menu but I think she's quite a fussy eater. The fish (in gin) is very nice.

CrystalBeth Wed 23-Apr-14 15:49:24

I would be incredibly surprised if she doesn't know what gin is, given that last time we went out about half the table ordered gin and tonics.

Brittapieandchips Wed 23-Apr-14 15:50:38

I've found people with dietary requirements to be more knowledgable than the general population, iyswim. My vegan friend often has to explain to me why she can't have x or y.

TheRealAmandaClarke Wed 23-Apr-14 15:58:44

Where is the restaurant?
I feel a need to eat this dish.

Hissy Wed 23-Apr-14 17:20:27

Leave her to make her own food choices, she's perfectly capable of making her own choices.

sashh Thu 24-Apr-14 14:54:54

I don't know about gin, but salmon in vermouth with grapes is awesome.

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