Food Snob Chronicles – Want to stay well? Avoid green leafy vegetables … and stupid human behavior
If you contracted a food-borne illness between 1998 and 2008, odds are you got it from eating spinach or kale. If that illness sent you to the hospital, it’s most likely that a dairy product was the culprit. And if it killed you? Well, you’d be pulling off quite a feat right now reading this and all, but you probably croaked after eating poultry.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week released the report linking certain foods to food borne illnesses.
The agency claims the report is not intended to calculate the risk of illness of certain foods, but produce gets much of the blame (46 percent) for food poison cases during the period. Meat (mostly poultry) didn’t fare much better, being blamed for 43 percent of food illness-related deaths.
Though mentioned in the study, neither the CDC nor the mainstream press place the blame where it truly belongs — with human behavior.
Sure, there are certain things that we cannot control. But, I doubt the researchers considered any of the following factors:
- How many people with supposed kale-induced food poisoning didn’t wash their kale? Better yet, how many of them didn’t adequately wash their hands (or their own utensils) before slicing, dicing and eating?
- Of the people who were admitted to the hospital for a food-borne illness, how many of them allowed the tuna salad to sit on the counter overnight before making a sandwich for lunch? What caused the illness? Was it the tuna? Or the mayo?
- So, your uncle died of food poisoning. I’m sorry for your loss. I knew a man who died as a result of food poisoning. He became very sick and refused to go to the doctor. (He thought he had a passing virus.) His family called 9-1-1 when he went into shock with a 107ºF fever. Needless to say, he met up with Marley’s ghost fairly quickly after that.
- While there are exceptions to every rule (I’m reminded of the children who died after eating tainted hamburgers at Jack in the Box back in the 1990s), we generally have the control. For goodness’ sakes, if the mayo at the burger bar is warm — don’t eat it! And, we know that beef is ground on dirty blades. Want your burger rare? Grind the meat at home on your own (clean) meat grinding blades.
Just don’t go blaming the spinach and the chicken for human stupidity.
Foods that really don’t make you sick (or cause lifelong defects)
I was 30 before I realized that my eyes wouldn’t get stuck by crossing them. Honestly, that ticked me off. So many lost opportunities…
So that my eight loyal readers don’t miss similar opportunities, I’ve researched a few food-related lies for your edification. Drink. Eat. And get tummy aches. Life will go on.
Coffee – No, it doesn’t make your knees brown. And if your knees are already brown … well, they’ll remain the same color, no matter how much java you consume.
Carrots – I just recently learned that everyone who ate carrots in 1841 is dead. But don’t let that scare you. Carrots improve vision (at least that’s what it says on the Internet) and Bugs Bunny eats them. One thing, though. We had a neighbor who fed her kid carrot baby food like it was going out of style … the kid turned orange. No kidding.
Cake batter – I’m not one to doubt the CDC. After all, they did such a great job during the AIDS scare of the mid-1980s (not), but I grew up licking the beaters. Eggs and all. Other than a few emotional issues, I’m fine. Come to think of it, raw eggs were also the steroids of the 1970s. Just ask Lou Ferrigno or Rocky Balboa.
Cold hot dogs – I was shocked to see the warning label claiming that the internal temperature must reach blah blah… I’ve eaten no fewer than 8,000 cold hot dogs in my life. I should have died years ago, I suppose.
Lots of candy – A stomach ache? Maybe. But it won’t exactly cause you to contract polio.
Rotten peanuts – I’m not so sure about this one, although I’ve accidentally downed a few. But, remember the song ‘Found a Peanut?’ If you believe the lyrics, you should be worried. Very worried.
I discovered Thai food in Dallas some years ago. I’ve since eaten it in several major US cities but — believe it, or not — the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten has come from a tiny hole-in-the-wall in my rural east Texas town. Yep. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes, and I’m addicted to Drunken Noodles.
Now, before you start thinking that I’m drinking with my eating these days, just know that this dish is named for the amount of booze, beer or any variety of unusual cocktails and drinks that must be consumed to ease the sting. If you order this at any Thai joint, make sure you keep the rounds coming. Made at home, you can adjust the heat to match tea-totalers or 9 a.m. drunkards. It’s your call. Either way, this dish is quick, easy and addictive (in a non-alcohol sort of way).
1/2 lb – boneless pork, cut into thin strips and velveted* or pre-stir fried
3/4 cup – White mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3/4 cup – Fresh broccoli florets
1/3 cup – Snow peas, sliced in half
1 medium – Carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 cup – Red Bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 can (cup) – Baby corn, sliced in half
1 small – Shallot, diced
3 – Garlic cloves, minced
5-6 Leaves – Fresh Basil
Sambal Oelek (Chile Garlic Paste)**
2 TB – Vegetable oil
1/3 cup – Dark soy sauce
1/4 cup – Oyster sauce
2 TB – Brown sugar
12 oz – Noodles
Chopped peanuts (optional)
Velvet the meat. Set aside.
- If using flat rice noodles, soak 10 oz. of the noodles in warm water for about 15 minutes. Boil for about 30 seconds. Strain. Rinse in cold water. Set aside.
- If using traditional pasta (such as lasagna, pappardelle or tagliatelle), follow instructions for cooking until al dente. Rinse in cold water. Set aside.
- If using eggroll wrappers, slice squares into threes. Boil for about 15 seconds. Rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Make the sauce
Combine soy and oyster sauces, and brown sugar.
Cook the vegetables
In a large skillet or wok, heat the vegetable oil over the medium-high setting. Add the broccoli, snow peas, carrots and corn. Stir fry until crisp tender, about 2 minutes.
Add shallots, garlic, mushrooms and Sambal Oelek**. Continue to stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add velveted meat, sauce, Basil and noodles. Stir and cover. Heat for another 2-3 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking.
Top with chopped peanuts, if desired.
* Velveting is a technique commonly used in Chinese restaurants. It works well in this Thai dish too. Whisk 1 TB soy sauce, 4 TB cornstarch and 1 egg white in a medium bowl. Add sliced pork and toss to coat well. Set aside for about 10 minutes (or in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes). Deep fry for about 30 seconds.
**You might prefer buzzed or stone drunk noodles. Adjust Sambal Oelek accordingly.