It was an Ex Fabula matinee ­–  an all-ages, family friendly story slam on the subject of food! Yup, food. Kind of a common denominator…a subject of endless interest. We had a mother and son duo tale. We had songs; and revelations about shared foods that, unbeknownst to guests, may have been a just a teensy bit contaminated.

Cameron Smith began the telling with an account of the Buffalo Wild Wings Challenge. Cameron had been doing fine, downing wings coated with fiery sauce, till he got to the second to the last one. At that point, he said: the sauce slapped back at me. By the rules, you can’t drink anything till you’ve eaten all the wings, so Cameron had to tap out. After cooling his mouth with ice cream, he could be philosophical. He had tried, and felt good about that.

Sharmia Evans and her friend attempted the Hot Fries, Flamin’ Cheetos challenge. Halfway through, Sharmia felt the need for a rinse but the rules say no! Her friend was in about the same condition. In their moment of distress, friendship triumphed over competition. Together, they counted to thirty, then grabbed for juice at the same time.

Making and sharing food with others is a fundamental of social life. Jada Mallett got listeners salivating when she described the southern style macaroni, yams and sweet tea she plans to enjoy at Thanksgiving.

 Michelle Battles’ husband’s motto is Keep it Simple, but Michelle just can’t when planning themed parties. She loves reading menus and recipes and planning pairings and decorations. When she hatched the idea of a Shake off the winter blues party the fact that there aren’t that many blue foods didn’t stop her. Undaunted, she dyed hummus blue and worked the theme for a successful gathering.

Stacie Rosenzweig loves pie. Every year, on the eve of 3/14 ­– Pi  Day – she and son Ellison Haas bake 24 pies in 48 hours. Her kitchen is tiny, old and poorly designed and Stacie admitted she’s klutzy. So working in close quarters around knives and hot surfaces leads to a lot of peril and swearing. As Stacie gave an hour by hour account of all the mishaps that made her swear, Ellison supplied imaginative, sanitized interjections, like Baby Wipes!

Both Danny Walrath and son Jake had tales about improper storage. When Danny was growing up in Sherman Park, he and his crowd used to hang out on each other’s porches. One of his crowd got stuck eating dinner at the home of the worst cook in the neighborhood. He managed to sneak inedible pork chops off his plate, into his clothes, then under the cushions of the couch on the porch.

The carefree crew rediscovered the chops, and insects feeding on them two weeks later. Jake had a classmate who hoarded the hard-to-get treat Strawberry Milk in his locker. With predictable results…since lockers aren’t refrigerated. Good thing Ex Fabula doesn’t have Scratch ‘N Sniff cards…

Indigestion intruded on Eliza McGuiness’s 9th birthday. She started to feel ill just as her guests were arriving, got worse during a movie, then threw up at Kopps Custard, right in front of the window and spectators. Sleepover phase cancelled. Deb’s downfall was kidney beans in chili she didn’t chew quite enough. She shared some holiday food memories and sang two songs about Thanksgiving from a turkey’s (human-imagined) point of view.

Father Cory Weber had worked in restaurant and fast food kitchens, but he wasn’t much of a home cook. He wanted to make soup when someone special in his life was sick. He described his attempt to make medicinal chicken soup from microwaveable patties, water and a jar of pepper with a poorly secured lid. She was sick, but not too sick to go out for dinner after tasting it.

Cory’s son Devon Weber came up with a feature called Gross Movie Friday for his YouTube channel. He put mayo, lemonade and cheese from the family fridge into a blender, then issued a challenge to his sister. Who could drink more? When he took a gulp, he had to stop the camera from rolling and do an emergency cleanse of his palate.

Peter May and Bobbie Zerfas  have done some travelling. Peter told tales of dining in Australia, Bali and Lapland as his career shooting travel videos took him far and wide. Bobbie had been in food heaven during her Peace Corps stint in Jordan. The woman she lived above was an incredible cook and fresh food was abundant. Bobbie tried hard to observe the traditional fasts during Ramadan.

On a day when she hadn’t cheated at all, she was seriously hungry and excited to see what would be on the table at sundown. That was the day that the rice came in sheep’s stomach, which didn’t sit with Bobbie. She retreated to her room and got into a care package her sister had sent her.

And now two more tales – just as the season of home, family and office food sharing kicks into high gear! When Kimberley Weddell and her husband were newlyweds, they lived in cramped quarters. A small utility room served as storage space for extra utensils, the cat box, etc. etc. The young couple had won a new BBQ grill and invited friends over for burgers.

When it was time to flip them, she realized she’d left the spatula in the house. Her guest offered to retrieve it, and came back pretty quickly. Kimberley realized a little late that the spatula was the one they used to remove “solids” from the litter box….

This fall, Lily Rogers was in the class play, and has enjoyed the family’s new kittens. She made chocolate dipped pretzel rods for the cast party. She went to do something else, but her highly intuitive mother called from upstairs check the pretzels. The kittens were licking the sprinkles. The pretzels went to the cast party anyhow.

Sometimes what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Sometimes it can! Here’s a link from my old employer, Milwaukee Health Department’s food safety section, with tips on everyday and holiday food safety: