Friday, July 25, 2008

Is a little alcohol ok?

Hello! I was wondering about the use of alcohol in cooking. Some recipes that I'd like to try have wine or other alcohol as one of the ingredients. For example, the recipe for a mushroom sauce lists sherry as an ingredient. A recipe for a dessert has raspberry liqueur as an ingredient. And I was looking at the ingredients on a bottle of balsamic vinegar, and wine was listed. Someone told me that in the case of the mushroom sauce, the alcohol will be "burned off" during the cooking process. Is alcohol acceptable then in any of those examples? Or is it to be totally avoided? Thank you very much for your response.

My comment:
The fifth precept states that we are to refrain from taking intoxicating substances. We must first analyze the rationale behind this precept. The beauty of Buddhism is that we are given the freedom to use our intelligence and common sense to think and analyze the Buddha's teachings. Of course, the minus side is that freedom of analyses may result in freedom of expressing differing interpretations. In the final analysis, it is up to the individual to make the choice.

The rationale of the fifth precept is that we must guard our mind and be alert. If we are intoxicated, our mind will be intoxicated too, and we will not be able to lead a wholesome live. Exposing ourselves to intoxicants may pose a danger to our mind being intoxicated. To an alcoholic, he is a victim of this intoxicant. Under normal circumstances, if we are not alcoholics, or habitual drinkers; we do not really expose ourselves to this danger of intoxication, even if we "indulge" in a few drops of "flavouring" alcohol "essence" just to enhance the taste of our food.

It is difficult to draw a line as to what constitutes a few drops. It is up to us. If we feel very strongly that we should not even touch a drop, then the choice is ours. On the other hand, if we want to be more pragmatic and know that a few drops cause no harm, then we are free to indulge our senses just that little bit. I have also been told that alcohol vapourizes once heated, but I don't bother to find any scientific proof for this. Hope I have answered your question. Please call again if you have further clarification.

1 comment:

A true Malaysian said...


This post is way back in July 2008. This Hassan of PAS Selangor should read this post before suggesting for the ban of alcoholic drinks in Selangor.

"The beauty of Buddhism is that we are given the freedom to use our intelligence and common sense to think and analyze the Buddha's teachings."

This is the part I like best about Buddhism.

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