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Shalmanese

Horrific habits from excellent cooks

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It's not so common now but smoking while cooking is one of the worst offenses. I used to work with a chef who always had a cigarette stuck in the corner of his mouth. Loved him but hated his habit.

I worked with that guy, too! :laugh: My pet peeve is women (and men) who wear their hair long and do not tie it back. There is nothing like enjoying your meal until you gag on a hair.

Elizabeth, your dad must be related to my mother. She can dust the entire kitchen with flour just making a batch of biscuits.

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which sends little droplets of food flying for rather astonishing distances to goonk themselves onto my cupboards and countertops

Is goonk a technical term? :)

My MIL isn't messy like that, but she does manage to get every dish and implement in the kitchen dirty, fill up the sink, and cover all the counters and the stove top with mess. After having worked with her in her kitchen for a number of years, I am a fanatical clean-as-you-goer and can put dinner on the table now, in many cases, with no dishes or pots and pans to be washed after dinner at all.

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2 things come to mind.

I'm incredibly bad about cleaning the stove surface beneath the grates. It's not so much about being unsanitary because if anything comes out of a pan I consider it lost immediately. It's just gross to look at.

The second thing has to do with tasting. My wife and I are in complete agreement on this, In our own home when cooking for ourselves and our daughters we will re-use the same tasting spoon since we all have been in the habit of sharing soda pop when we are out and about. However, when we are cooking for our renaissance guild we NEVER use the stirring spoon to taste and only use the plastic spoons we do use for tasting once and then they are thrown away.

I just realized my biggest shame in this area. Not cleaning the refrigerator nearly often enough. I usually find science experiments shoved out of sight in the back of the fridge.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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How about dipping your finger in food to taste it? I know a lot of professionals that do it all the time. Marco Pierre-White said that washing your hands gives you ten fingers to taste with.

I know it's somewhat unhygienic but don't really see a problem here. For me the worst habit is not cleaning after yourself.

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I see chefs on TV dripping copious amount of sweat into their food (in the pot and on the plate). Creeps me out.

Ah yeah. I see a lot of that too. It is really creepy and gross in my point of view. :(

It would be unsanitary habits. Tasting spoons...dirty cutting boards...keeping food at room temp for too long.

Agree on this one as well. A bad habit that each cook should be aware of.

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Dirty cutting boards and lack of refrigeration, OK. But at least at home, I wouldn't consider re-using a tasting spoon a "horrific habit" (unless someone is immune-compromised or you know that you yourself are sick). Chances are, you have previously exchanged bodily fluids of one kind or another with at least half of the people you're cooking for.

It seems to me that part of good cooking habits is to make the procedures into 'habits'. Never, ever taste from the spoon you are cooking with. Then you don't have to keep track of who is going to eat your food.

An easy answer to the problem is a container full of teaspoons designated for tasting only sitting near where the cook is working. One taste and into the sink they go. And make sure the spoon bowl is down and the handle up. I took some cooking classes recently and was stunned to see the spoon container with the bowl pointed up.

I think this is particularly important for folks who work with chocolate. It's so tempting to lick the spoon, lick your fingers, etc. You must be ruthless about NEVER doing this. (Well, IMH (or not so H)O.)

I absolutely agree with this. It's stunning to me how many people think it's just fine to taste repeatedly with the same spoon from the dish they're cooking and then planning to serve others. I live in a big family with several toddlers. The kids go to preschool and bring home stuff. The mom (my daughter) is a school teacher and she brings home stuff. The son (her husband) works in a large office downtown and brings home stuff. You are contagious long before you are aware of any symptoms. Having some sort of cold or flu go through this family is a nightmare. You might be right that at any given time several of the members are exchanging bodily fluids, but that's no excuse for lazy hygiene at the cook stove.

And you don't have to go through a couple dozen spoons, either. I get a small coffee mug or cup and one spoon and have it sitting at the ready beside the cooking pot. It's a simple matter to take the large cooking spoon and drop a small amount of whatever I'm preparing into that mug and taste it with my one soup or teaspoon. I can also try out various herbs and spices in my tasting cup, without ruining the whole pot.

I cannot tell you how many times through the years I've been a guest in someone's home and gone through some sort of subterfuge to avoid eating a dish that I saw the host eat out of while he/she cooked it.

For various reasons, I am extremely susceptible to infections and I just can't take the chance.

That sort of arrogance ("I don't think I'm getting sick and even if I am it's no big deal so why should I bother keeping my bodily fluids to myself.") really pisses me off.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Amen, Jaymes. It's the same attitude as "eh, a little food poisoning never hurt anybody."

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Is goonk a technical term? :)

Yup. It belongs to the same group of technical terms as "dollop", "smidgen", and "just flap it together." I have actual recipes from my great gran that call for things like "butter the size of a walnut" and "just toss some raisins in, as many as will fit in the ladel" so I'm quite accustomed to the archaic technical lingo. Some of her recipes also refer to a "flumping" sound when puddings are turned out of their bags as a sign that they're done. :D She was the most brilliant baker I ever had the pleasure to meet.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Maybe we shouldn't get started on TV chefs' bad habits, but one I hate is when they bang a knife blade, sharp side down, onto their cutting board before they start to slice/chop. Why? Don't they LIKE knives??


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

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Dirty cutting boards and lack of refrigeration, OK. But at least at home, I wouldn't consider re-using a tasting spoon a "horrific habit" (unless someone is immune-compromised or you know that you yourself are sick). Chances are, you have previously exchanged bodily fluids of one kind or another with at least half of the people you're cooking for.

It seems to me that part of good cooking habits is to make the procedures into 'habits'. Never, ever taste from the spoon you are cooking with. Then you don't have to keep track of who is going to eat your food.

An easy answer to the problem is a container full of teaspoons designated for tasting only sitting near where the cook is working. One taste and into the sink they go. And make sure the spoon bowl is down and the handle up. I took some cooking classes recently and was stunned to see the spoon container with the bowl pointed up.

I think this is particularly important for folks who work with chocolate. It's so tempting to lick the spoon, lick your fingers, etc. You must be ruthless about NEVER doing this. (Well, IMH (or not so H)O.)

I absolutely agree with this. It's stunning to me how many people think it's just fine to taste repeatedly with the same spoon from the dish they're cooking and then planning to serve others. I live in a big family with several toddlers. The kids go to preschool and bring home stuff. The mom (my daughter) is a school teacher and she brings home stuff. The son (her husband) works in a large office downtown and brings home stuff. You are contagious long before you are aware of any symptoms. Having some sort of cold or flu go through this family is a nightmare. You might be right that at any given time several of the members are exchanging bodily fluids, but that's no excuse for lazy hygiene at the cook stove.

And you don't have to go through a couple dozen spoons, either. I get a small coffee mug or cup and one spoon and have it sitting at the ready beside the cooking pot. It's a simple matter to take the large cooking spoon and drop a small amount of whatever I'm preparing into that mug and taste it with my one soup or teaspoon. I can also try out various herbs and spices in my tasting cup, without ruining the whole pot.

I cannot tell you how many times through the years I've been a guest in someone's home and gone through some sort of subterfuge to avoid eating a dish that I saw the host eat out of while he/she cooked it.

For various reasons, I am extremely susceptible to infections and I just can't take the chance.

That sort of arrogance ("I don't think I'm getting sick and even if I am it's no big deal so why should I bother keeping my bodily fluids to myself.") really pisses me off.

Amen. The arrogance of ignorance can be appalling.

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

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Amen. The arrogance of ignorance can be appalling.

Well, we are still talking about home cooking. The solution is simple: Don't eat at someone's place if they do something you find "appalling".

Personally, I think that some people (prevalently in the US, but that may simply be internet access bias) have a deep-seated fear of infections that verges on the irrational. This also manifests in things like always using antibacterial soap, which generally do more harm than good (resistant strains of bacteria etc.), If the food is being heated to 80°C and above, re-using a tasting spoon will not result in any appreciable transfer of live microbes. You can still find it disgusting (like I find worms in cherries to be disgusting), but that's more a psychological reaction than one based on actual risks.

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Amen. The arrogance of ignorance can be appalling.

Well, we are still talking about home cooking. The solution is simple: Don't eat at someone's place if they do something you find "appalling".

Personally, I think that some people (prevalently in the US, but that may simply be internet access bias) have a deep-seated fear of infections that verges on the irrational. This also manifests in things like always using antibacterial soap, which generally do more harm than good (resistant strains of bacteria etc.), If the food is being heated to 80°C and above, re-using a tasting spoon will not result in any appreciable transfer of live microbes. You can still find it disgusting (like I find worms in cherries to be disgusting), but that's more a psychological reaction than one based on actual risks.

Not all things that are served are cooked, and tasting and handling food with dirty hands can happen right before serving.

Refusing to eat at someone's home is often not an option, unless you're willing to hurt the feelings of someone who is, in all respects but those that regard your physical well-being, a great friend.

I actually have friend whose habits in the kitchen make me go pale, and I catch something that requires antibiotics about half the time I dine there (yes, really). The food is great, but the hygiene suggests a complete indifference to modern germ theory. I deal with it, because this is an otherwise truly great friend, who also happens to have an impressive immune system (there's also a tendency for larval life-forms to make an appearance in things that have just been picked from the garden, but that doesn't really bother me, since these tend to not be disease bearers; I just pick them out and discreetly wrap them in a napkin).


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Not all things that are served are cooked, and tasting and handling food with dirty hands can happen right before serving.

Well yes, but that's a completely different can of worms (if that expression is appropriate here). I can agree that I wouldn't want to eat steak tartare made by someone who doesn't take a lot of care in the preparation. But if someone is tasting the soup or some other food prepared by heating using the cooking spoon, I wouldn't consider that a hanging offense by itself.

Refusing to eat at someone's home is often not an option, unless you're willing to hurt the feelings of someone who is, in all respects but those that regard your physical well-being, a great friend.

I actually have friend whose habits in the kitchen make me go pale, and I catch something that requires antibiotics about half the time I dine there (yes, really). The food is great, but the hygiene suggests a complete indifference to modern germ theory. I deal with it, because this is an otherwise truly great friend, who also happens to have an impressive immune system (there's also a tendency for larval life-forms to make an appearance in things that have just been picked from the garden, but that doesn't really bother me, since these tend to not be disease bearers; I just pick them out and discreetly wrap them in a napkin).

Mhm... Seems to be a difficult situation. I guess I wouldn't be as discreet in that case, I fear. I have a nasty tendency to either comment or take over the kitchen completely if I see things done The Wrong Way . Not one of my nicest traits, I know.

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^^

Then there's the classic Indian grandmother's instruction: "Cook for some time".

:D

I'm partial to: "Cook until done."

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I think the most horrific habit of great (and other) chefs is when they don a pious attitude with their chef whites (so to speak). Some certainly have the right to, it's true. But not nearly as many who do.

Otherwise, if the food that reaches my plate is sublime (or even just plain tasty), I'm fine with the means by which it got there! (barring egregious behaviors, of course...)


Edited by melissafitz (log)

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Anyone who wears rings and bracelets while cooking, sooooo skeevy. I saw a video of someone making hamburger with a ring on his thumb and I wanted to vomit.



I have simple tastes. I am always satisfied with the best - Oscar Wilde

The Easy Bohemian

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At the risk of taking a lot of arrows from pet lovers: People who let their cats walk on their countertops and dining tables. I have dogs and a cat and I washwashwash my hands anytime I touch the big and little darlings when I am cooking. I have had pets all of my life and love them dearly. I do not love the pests and parasites that they carry and I don't want them in or near the food. I shudder when I see people feed their animals from their eating utensils or kiss their pets on the muzzle, give them a scratch behind the ears and then turn back to the stove. Yuck.

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No arrows from me, annabelle. I have 3 dogs and a cat, I love them dearly, but I know where they have been, the things I have seen them eat (and roll in), and what they lick. No licking me, no wandering on the counters or table, and get the heck out from under my feet while I am cooking.

I have friends whose little Malti-poo walks on the dining room table--no way.

I do always wash down the counters and table before prep, because you know how cats are. :laugh:


Edited by sparrowgrass (log)

sparrowgrass

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Yup, always we always clean the counters because there's no guarantee the cat didnt journey thru when no one was looking. Blech.

Cant always keep the beasts off, but can do a lot to discourage it or mitigate it.

Still, tho I had to toss the butter & reset the table, it was hilariously funny to see the cat stretched to her limit, front paws on the table, lick, lick, licking it, as we got ready for dinner.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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That is funny! I once went out to get the mail and left a freshly baked lemon meringue pie cooling on the countertop. I came back in the house with the mail and caught my big white angora cat with a faceful of meringue and the closest thing to an "oh, sh*t!" look on his face that a cat can have. I'm glad someone in the house got to enjoy the pie, since the rest of the family didn't get any.

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If he manages to make the ashes fall where they do not alter the taste of the food, I fail to see the problem.


Charles Milton Ling

Vienna, Austria

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Then there are the cat people who are totally indifferent to cat hair in the kitchen.

For example, I used to work (as a professional housecleaner) for a couple who liked to entertain a lot. They had dinner parties all the time. Also, there were two long-haired cats in the household who had free rein everywhere, including in the kitchen. On top of that, the couple cooked with a lot of grease -- deep-frying a lot, lots of butter.

This was a small kitchen. Every single time I was there, I was wiping off cat hair from the stove top, the walls, the cupboard doors, the counters, in the burners, off the greasy hood, etc. etc. -- before I could even start to clean! God I'm so glad I don't have to do that anymore. I never understood how their dinner guests couldn't see the cat hair. I mean, it was stuck on everything!

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:unsure:

Amen, Jaymes. It's the same attitude as "eh, a little food poisoning never hurt anybody."

To be honest though, I think the whole 'ew, germs' thing has made a lot of people more susceptible to viruses that ordinarily would not have made them sick if they'd been exposed to them a little before. Immuno compromised, already sick, yeah sure, be wary, but paranoia about tasting from the same spoon just makes me mourn for humanity.

I have eaten an inordinate amount of things in my life that could have possibly made me sick, but I can count on two fingers the times I have been actually genuinely sick from food (I'm not counting those times I've just gotten greedy, eaten way too much and have a tummyache afterwards). Both those times it had nothing whatsoever to do with someone's mis-handling of tasting spoons.


James.

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I wasn't talking about viruses. I was talking about the casual attitude that it's okay to use sloppy hygiene. Cross contamination anyone? How's about a little salmonella?

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