Let me state for the record that I am firmly against food poisoning. I am definitely not a fan. Having had it once, I can assure you that anyone who says they “think” they had food poisoning hasn’t. If you have it, you’ll know.
I can still recall feeling like I wanted to die on that bathroom floor. I was stricken by some picnic potato salad — a food I had up to that point loved and which, from that point on, became my sworn enemy. Once a food turns on you, that food never fully regains your trust. I haven’t eaten potato salad at a picnic in a good 20 years.
My mother is still holding a similar grudge against lemon Jell-O. Trust me when I tell you that I am not the one taking a bite of the “iffy” lunch meat “just to check” (that would be Mr. Wonderful).
I am generally so careful about food safety that Mr. Wonderful would be appalled at the sheer amount of it I throw away (just kidding dear). If I even suspect a roast has been left thawed too long it is dead to me. Into the trash it goes. I even have a special pan I use just to set fresh meat in the refrigerator prior to cooking. This is because getting all those meat juices in my freshly sanitized refrigerator makes me want to toss out the entire appliance and buy a new one.
In truth, if not for my deep and abiding love of meat I would consider becoming a vegetarian. Not because of the cute animals, I’m just easily grossed out. While I imagine a potato could probably come up with a way to kill me, it seems less invested in doing so. Of course onions were deadly a few years ago so what vegetable can we really trust?
Suffice to say that I am a person who you would expect to be much impressed with the annual holiday flurries of “how not to kill yourself while cooking” advice. Alongside the endless coverage of holiday sales and how many shopping days there are until Christmas, we will find food safety experts who spend the entire holiday season being complete buzz-kills and warning us that if we so much as thaw a turkey wrong we are going to kill all our loved ones.
A prime example is today’s method of turkey handling 101. The way they carry on over the idea that anyone would thaw a turkey in the sink, I’m fairly certain that if you do so, an unicorn dies.
Thus, I dutifully took my rock-solid frozen turkey out of the freezer three days prior to the holiday and set it in the refrigerator to thaw per the morning television program’s food expert’s sage advice. There it sat, frozen solid, until Wednesday evening when I called my grandmother in a panic. She, bless her heart, walked me through the process of thawing the turkey in the sink. Nobody died.
I think it pays to be careful. To wash your hands, clean your surfaces, and keep food properly refrigerated and cooked to the appropriate internal temperature. Still, I wonder if my grandmother knew she was flirting with disaster all those years?
Today I thaw and marinate my grandmother’s way. I also mix meatloaf with my bare hands because I am a barbarian with a death wish. I keep a sanitary kitchen and clean hands and can only hope that doing it the way generations past did is good enough these days too. I think it pays to keep up on new ways but for sometimes in life — and thawing turkeys — the old ways work just fine. I think we can trust our nation’s grandmother’s don’t you?
Although, come to think of it, they’ve been pushing all that raw egg in the cookie dough and licking of the batter bowls for years. Perhaps they are actually agents of the enemy potato salad?