Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Say It Ain't So, Jose!


This just breaks my heart... maybe some other parts, too, but certainly my heart:

Salsa, guacamole -- and a side order of food-borne illness
July 12, 2010|By Tami Dennis, Los Angeles Times
No one is suggesting, even remotely, that Americans give up salsa and guacamole. But it's worth noting the risks that they pose. New research from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does just that.
In analyzing outbreaks of food-borne illness, researchers found that almost 1 in 25 restaurant outbreaks between 1998 and 2008 could be blamed on these two offerings. Improper storage times or temperatures were likely a contributing factor, the report found; food workers themselves were sometimes a source of the contamination.

But the report also noted that many of the common ingredients -- peppers, tomatoes, cilantro – in these uncooked foodstuffs have been implicated in individual outbreaks. Put those ingredients together and you've got more than a zesty condiment; you've got a statistical target.


If guacamole is off-limits, I might as well lay me doon and dee.

I understand and even sympathize with the restaurants. Guacamole is best made (yes, as you may recall, I've done it many times myself) in a quantity suitable for eating on the spot, immediately after preparation, no leftovers, not much chance for contamination. Restaurants have generally clean food prep areas (yes, admit it; most of them are cleaner than your own refrigerator) but they don't have circumstances that allow for that sort of just-in-time preparation, delivery and eating. So sometimes we get sick from the guac. It hardly seems fair!

NOTE: Google appears to have turned its greenest programmer loose on the Blogger post editor. Several times an hour, something different breaks, and this has happened for a couple of days now. The breaks and the necessary manual fixes in the post's HTML are so egregious that I might as well write the post directly in HTML... just like old times at the Yellow Doggerel Democrat! Why do we put up with this kind of crap? Don't say it's because it's free; the whole fuckin' Open Source world is free, and the quality is rarely this despicably bad. Goddammit, Google, get your act together, or at least assign a better coder to the job... I'm tired of covering for your errors!


  1. One in Twenty Five. So I wonder what the other twenty four problems were?
    Doesn't seem like to big a risk there if you frequent places that do a good business and have decent turnover on such things.
    The reality is that bacteria are everywhere, even on the freshest organic veges. It's life. You make an honest effort to reduce the risks by proper sanitation and kitchen practices and then take your chances. The other option is eating nothing but overcooked food and never enjoying the garden's bounty in its most natural and healthful state. I'll take my chances on the quac and salsa thank you very much.

  2. Agreed on all points, fallenmonk. I generally go to a reputable grocer the day before I want guac... you'd be amazed how different the quality of avocados can be from one store to the next on a single day in a single city. Then I ripen for one day or less... two days is pushing it; three guarantees rotten avocados. I prepare other ingredients (tomatoes, cilantro, onions, lemons, etc.) immediately beforehand, then scoop, mix (by hand... I don't like the result of using a blender) and serve right away. Some people chill the mixture for a while; that's OK if it doesn't pass the color-turning point. Lemon helps extend the lifetime a little bit, but don't bet your guac on it; make it fresh and eat it fresh. Use tortilla chips that are NOT STALE. Do use them, though; guac doesn't taste right without them. And that's about all I know about guac.

    A couple of restaurants in Houston offer good guac just about anytime. Others vary, and still others are to be avoided. There's nothing quite like making your own, where you can assure the age and freshness of all ingredients.

    Stella, poor soul, can't eat onions. Guac is a private pleasure in our household. But of course in restaurants, I get to eat mine AND hers... :-)



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