In Part 1 of this multi-part series (that may really never end), I laid out some of what I felt is wrong with food safety issues in this country. In Part 2, I looked at a few of the differences between the U.S. and just a couple other countries with respect to food safety. In this part, we’ll look at some common myths that are still perpetrated by food safety “experts” in this country, along with some other serious annoyances in the arena of “political food correctness”.
I keep going back to this next part as it bears repeating. It’s from an earlier post of mine …
We go now to one of the masters of cooking, Chef Anthony Bourdain of Les Halles on Park Avenue in New York City, also A Cook’s Tour on Food Network and No Reservations on the Travel Channel. In his Les Halles cookbook he writes:
Most people think that if you just scatter some salt and pepper and, God forbid, paprika on a chicken, then throw him, legs askew, into an oven and cook every bit of blood and moisture out of him — that that’s roasting a chicken. Hell, most people figure that if the crispy skin tastes good, and there’s no yucky blood or pink stuff near the bone, that’s a fine roast chicken … Chicken should taste like chicken. Understand also that legs and breasts cook at different rates. In your zeal to make sure that there is no pink (eek!) or red (oooohh!) anywhere in the legs, you are often criminally overcooking your breasts. Find a happy medium. A little pink color by the thigh bone does not necessarily mean you are eating rare poultry.
Wait, what did he say?? Did this world-renowned Chef just say chicken can be … pink???
Well, yes, he did. Imagine that. I know, I know, your grandmother would simply keel over at the thought. Both of mine would, too.
What’s the key to safe chicken? Rinse it?? Umm, no, that’s not it. Bacteria like to swim. Rinsing only moves them around without getting rid of them. I’m not ServSafe certified (maybe at some point this year), but I have a copy of the coursebook right here. Let’s see, rinsing chicken, rinsing … chicken … poultry … nope, rinsing ain’t in there.
This here ServSafe book says to cook chicken to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds. For his roast chicken or “poulet roti”, Chef Tony simply gives oven temps and specific timings, and then says, “If you’re worried about undercooking, with the point of a small knife or with a skewer or cake tester, you can poke the fat part of the thigh. If the liquid that runs out is clear — not pink or red — your bird is cooked.”
Let’s look at pork now. From About.com:
In the mid 20th century, most pork had to be cooked well done because of the fear of trichinosis. But today pork is fed and raised differently and the meat is safe to heat when cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. If the juices run very light pink, the pork is done.
This also echos what the USDA says about cooking pork. The National Pork Board also writes, “Because of modern feeding practices, trichinosis is a no longer a concern. Although trichina is virtually nonexistent in pork, if it were present, it would be killed at 137 degrees F. That’s well below the recommended end cooking temperature for pork, which is 160 degrees F.”
Wait … what? 137 degrees F is really all you need?? Actually, that’s true. Look at this chart from Tyson foods. 145 degrees F is high enough, which makes it possible for Chef Tad of the Frog Leg Inn to offer his beautiful Pork Tenderloin as “medium rare”. I had this dish a couple weeks ago, and it’s truly delicious.
No, my mom wouldn’t like pork that was pink whatsoever. But looking at the time period she grew up in, I understand. Talking to her on the phone just now, she tells me she still refuses to eat beef, pork or chicken that is any pink whatsover. I mentioned recalling how she used to brown pork chops and chicken sections prior to baking them in the oven or letting dad grill them on his Hibachi. She said, “Oh, I don’t do that anymore”. While she will never have food that’s medium or medium-rare, it’s more the result of the time period she grew up in than anything else.
You may not like this next part. Consider yourself fore-warned …
The three men slurp their stew
I do miss her cookin’ though.
This stew’s awful good.
He sniffs dubiously at his spoon.
I slaughtered this horse last Tuesday; ‘m afraid she’s startin to turn.
This little scene from “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” generally turns people’s stomachs. But in fact, it was only a few months ago that courts blocked the inspection of horse meat for human consumption, effectively closing the last horse farm of its kind in the U.S. And actually, horse is consumed by humans around the world.
(M)any other countries, especially those recently hard hit by mad cow and other disease, consider horse meat to be a nutritious staple and will pay big bucks for it … The protein-rich, lean meat is sent to the butchers and restaurateurs of Asia, mainly Japan, and Europe, mainly France. Here in the United States, zoos buy the meat for their big cats and other carnivores.
Some of it used to be bred here, as that article from 2002 states, but not anymore. To be honest, I’m not even sure how I, myself, feel about the human consumption of horse meat. I just don’t know … haven’t figured that one out.
But here’s the thing: I do know that “political correctness” has no place whatsoever in the legislation of food issues. This is quite simple.
Chew on this for a moment:
My kids, ages 17, 14, 12 (the only girl) and 10, all assist in raising rabbits, and know how to process them for food.
Ok, so “process” is a “politically-correct” word here …
My kids kill, drain, skin and gut the rabbits before cutting them into sections and soaking the pieces in brine. That’s what “process” means.
The rabbit is then either frozen, or cooked and eaten at that evening’s meal. (No, when it’s cooked right, it does not taste like chicken!)
I can hear it now; “THEY KILLED THUMPER!”
No they didn’t. Thumper’s one of the breeders. You never name your dinner. Sheesh …
“But how could they kill something so cute, so adorable, so … cuddly??”
Here’s a simple fact: Just about every previously-living creature you’ve ever eaten was cute at one point or another. Piglets are downright adorable and baby chicks are definitely cuddly. Why, then, is it alright to kill them and eat them just because they’re older and no longer cute?
The double-standard for this that applies to things like rabbit meat is patently absurd.
I’ve already discussed foie gras bans and trans fat bans in these pages. If you want to read or re-read those posts, there they are. While some cities such as NYC and Chicago are attempting to require food chains to list calorie counts on their menu boards, not only are some refusing to do so, even Mayor Daley thinks the idea is ridiculous.
Do you or anyone else have the right or authority to tell anyone but your own children what they can and cannot eat?
No. Plain and simple. No. Deal with that on your own while you get out from between me and what I want to consume.
Now, pardon me while I go chew on a stick of butter. Why? Because I can.
Part 4 later …