So a discussion began last night, on a forum of which I am a member, about the rinsing of raw meats before cooking, specifically poultry. Some rinse, some don’t. Another member commented that apparently the FDA recommends against rinsing. You know why?
Because the water can splash and land on other things, thus spreading bacteria.
I had to laugh. I love the idea, first of all, that the FDA is recommending against a basic sanitary routine because the people doing it are apparently not capable of cleaning up after themselves. Seriously.
But it got me thinking about one of my biggest, hugest pet peeves ever, which I’m going to share with you.
See, I am anal about raw poultry and/or pork. Seriously. I treat that shit like it’s nitroglycerine. Nitroglycerine which also carries the Ebola virus. And is armed with razor blades.
Here’s what I do:
I open the chicken or pork “package,” (you know, they usually come wrapped in plastic or paper) in the sink, with the water already running. I not only rinse–and I have been known on occasion to mix a capful of bleach with a gallon of water and use that for the first rinse, followed by quite a few thorough inside-and-out rinses–but I leave the water running while I remove the chicken to a plate. Then I wash my hands, wrap the original package in paper towels and throw it away (I always have a foot-pedal trash can). Then–water still running–I wash whatever I used to open the package, my sink, and the surrounding countertops. Then I wash my hands again and then turn the faucet off. Then I dry the sink & counters, then dry the chicken. Then throw away those paper towels. Then I wash my hands again, and while my hands are soapy I wash the faucets and spigot.
I touch the raw chicken only with my left hand, if at all possible, so I can use my right to get things from the fridge, cabinets, open spice jars, whatever (I usually don’t have to, since I gather those things in advance, but sometimes it happens). If I have to use my right on the raw meat, I then use a double thickness of paper towels if I have to touch anything before washing my hands (and faucets) again. If I splash, I wash it immediately. If I accidentally touch something else, I wash it immediately.
Once the chicken is cooking I wash everything again, including my hands, the plate the raw meat sat on, and whatever utensils I may have used on the chicken, or touched after touching the chicken, even if I know I did not in fact touch it, and the spigots. Then I spray an anti-bacterial countertop spray on everything, including the floor, in case there were any drips.
Yes, I am anal. I’m not like this with all foods, and I’m not freakish about kitchen cleanliness in general, but after seeing an HBO documentary a long time ago about how salmonella can spread and kill people, and about trichinosis (found in raw pork)…yeah. (It may also come from being a nurse’s child and one-time candystriper, where we were taught the proper bathroom procedure: flush, wash hands, leave water running while you dry hands and use paper towels to turn the water back off and open the bathroom door, tossing the towels as you exit. Really. You will never carelessly use a tap again, after having all of that drilled into you.) Sure, the odds are slim. But that’s no reason not to be careful. And honestly, though it sounds like I go through a lot of steps, it’s really not that difficult or complicated when you’re actually doing it. It’s really just about minding what you touch.
So here’s what pisses me off. Cooking shows.
I cannot remember the last time I saw a cooking-show chef observe any kind of proper cleanliness standards when it comes to handling raw pork/poultry. Ina Garton’s roast chicken looks delicious, right? But Ina Garton does not wash her hands properly. None of them do. It drives me crazy. My eyes literally track everything they touch after touching that raw chicken, and I picture bright pink gobs of oozy, breeding germs all over their kitchens. The other day I watched Ina do her roast chicken. She touched the raw chicken with her hands and put it in the pan. Then she picked up her knife and chopped some vegetables. Then she used her salt and pepper shakers and handled some fresh-growing herbs–tearing the leaves off the potted plant on the counter. Then she got something out of her fridge, I think.
THEN–this is the best part–she says, “Oh, and it’s important to wash your hands when handling raw chicken.” She turned on the taps, rubbed her hands together for a second or two under the water–no soap–and turned the taps back off. So even if she HAD washed her hands properly, she’s just picked the bacteria back up from the tap, and then of course she chops something else with the knife whose handle she touched immediately after the chicken, and uses her spices some more, and all of that.
And it’s not just Ina. They ALL seem to do it. Guys, a casual rinse is not washing your hands. And you should be doing it immediately, not five minutes later after you’ve left a seething trail of illness and death all over your kitchen, where any unsuspecting person could set down their cookie or whatever. Don’t touch raw poultry and then rub your hands on your fucking dishtowel! What the hell is the matter with you? If a health inspector saw that you’d be in huge trouble. I understand you have a time constraint, but is it that hard to at least do your useless “wash” immediately after touching the meat, rather than after you’ve contaminated everything?
See, here’s the thing. People watch these shows to learn how to cook. They watch these chefs–experts–to pick up techniques and learn how to handle food. The impression they give that it’s fine to just slop a little water on your hands is not okay. Imagine doing that, then handing a cracker to a child. *shudder* I watched something (again, on British TV) a while ago where, after watching a woman prepare a chicken for roasting, they ran one of those black lights over her kitchen to show her all the things she’d touched without even thinking. It was fucking disgusting.
The woman was horrified (and rightly so) because she had, in fact, gotten her daughter a drink while she still had germy hands. But why on earth hadn’t she just washed them? Because she never thought about it. Because none of the cooking shows she watched emphasized how important it was, how even the slightest little drip of bacteria-laden liquid or the slightest touch of bacteria-laden hands can spread serious illnesses.
Seriously, I know I’m a bit freakish but it just bugs the fuck out of me.
So I had to rant about it here, because if you can’t share your weirdo obsessions on your blog, where can you share them, right?
What are your food weirdnesses? Ever watch cooking shows?
Tomorrow I’m going to blog about castles and do some links and updates and stuff. At least that is the plan.