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I might have given my roommate food poisoning. Please advise.

Probably a coincidence. It may not even have been food poisoning; if it was, it almost definitely wasn't from your chicken. A simmering liquid is, at bare minimum, 180 degrees Fahrenheit and probably higher. If the chicken was in the stew, and it reached a simmer for a few minutes, it would have reached temperature equilibrium with the liquid it was simmering in, meaning it would have hit that temperature throughout. That's much hotter than necessary to kill off any common food pathogens.

You have nothing to worry about. Tossing totally raw chicken chunks into a soup or stew, as long as it's brought to a simmer and stays there for a few minutes, is fine. (Browning them first like you did obviously makes it taste better, though.)

ETA: That said, I'm assuming you followed regular food safety practices -- washing your hands after handling raw chicken so you don't inadvertently contaminate utensils, and all that sort of thing. If you served your roommate food off the plate where you reserved the browned but not cooked through chicken, all bets are off.

Jan 30, 2013
Exy00 in General Topics

Servers Holding My Glass By the Rim: Yuck!

What do you do with your fingers that you are so worried about that?

Jan 29, 2013
Exy00 in Not About Food

Servers Holding My Glass By the Rim: Yuck!

Putting a baby's behind on the drinking glasses? Now you've gone too far!

Jan 27, 2013
Exy00 in Not About Food

Does Anyone Else Wish for a Puupuu Platter (updated, of course)?

That is not a pu pu platter.

Jan 27, 2013
Exy00 in General Topics

Servers Holding My Glass By the Rim: Yuck!

Haha, I was going to point that out.

The mechanism by which norovirus spreads is such that the most careful possible conveyance of glassware is not going to make any difference (it is highly, highly contagious via the production of huge quantities of aerosolized virus in the air).

Giving a customer a wineglass by the rim is poor service, to be sure, but it's not necessary to invent imaginary health risks.

Jan 27, 2013
Exy00 in Not About Food

Does anyone eat tartar sauce with anything other than fish?

That sounds . . . amazing. I think I got fatter just reading it.

Jan 27, 2013
Exy00 in General Topics

Why do Americans like everything Chunky?

Right? Don't we stereotypically characterize about half the world's cultures as "cheap"? Whether or not it's true, I certainly have a picture in my head of, for example, little old Chinese women haggling in order to get everything at the cheapest possible price.

Jan 27, 2013
Exy00 in General Topics

Why do people like box cake better than homemade?

They kept glatt kosher but they were willing to eat a cake that come out of a non-kosher kitchen?

Jan 27, 2013
Exy00 in General Topics

Servers Holding My Glass By the Rim: Yuck!

It's certainly not "dangerous to your health". And I'm guessing the likely response to such a note would be the server rolling their eyes, deciding you're a nutcase, and celebrating your promise not to return.

Jan 27, 2013
Exy00 in Not About Food

Field-Testing Team Realtree Energy Drink

He's just adorable when he tastes something horribly disgusting.

Oct 31, 2012
Exy00 in Features

Why the overtly salted sweets?

I don't know that it's restaurant chefs that are the real bad guys in regard to sodium, though. (Though, as I've mentioned, I'm somewhat skeptical that sodium is all that dangerous anyway.) I think that probably prepared convenience foods are just as big a problem, the sorts of things a lot of people eat daily or nearly so at home.

People's perceptions of saltiness don't necessarily match reality; a soup that doesn't seem particularly salty sometimes has way more salt than a bowl of popcorn or potato chips that taste salty. Bits of salt on the surface of a food have a strong taste but they aren't where most of the salt in our diet comes from.

Aug 20, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

How much fat in your favorite hummus?

Oh, sorry, I don't want to hijack.

Aug 20, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Why the overtly salted sweets?

My impression is that it's very traditional to make caramel with salted butter in France. I don't know about cookies and macarons, though. But I'm sure salty sweets have been known before the last decade.

Aug 20, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Why the overtly salted sweets?

I made Jacques Torres's famous chocolate chip cookies a bit back, and they called for a sprinkle of coarse salt on top. It was delicious, it would probably make any chocolate chip cookie recipe tastier. And in the whole (large) batch, I doubt I used more than a quarter teaspoon, which means that any reasonable serving of cookies would only have a few extra milligrams of sodium. It was only a tiny smidge extra, but because the crystals were big ones right there on the surface, rather than dispersed through, they were still able to add a certain something that made them much better than they would have been otherwise.

Aug 20, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Why the overtly salted sweets?

I don't know how to explain it. It cuts through it by being a counterpoint, which makes it easier to enjoy the sweetness because it's not the only thing there. It makes it more intensely enjoyable by providing a contrast.

As for labelling, food manufacturers are always going to cling to whatever chicanery they can legally get away with in regard to silly health claims on packages. Sort of like when jelly beans advertise that they're cholesterol-free, when no jelly bean has cholesterol in it. But the people making salted caramels aren't the ones advertising baloney fiber claims on granola bars, so I don't see why they're hypocrites.

But either way, the actual sodium content in a salted chocolate or a salted caramel is a drop in the bucket; it only seems like a large amount because it's big crystals right there. Since that little bit of salt can make a candy that much tastier, I don't see the problem.

Aug 20, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Why the overtly salted sweets?

I haven't kept up with the research, but I did actually read the original studies -- the full ones, not just summaries in the popular media -- back when that whole hype for chocolate first broke. (That was when I had access to the medical journals through being a university student.)

The evidence of chocolate being healthy was always really sketchy, frankly. It was in small, quite short studies funded by chocolate manufacturers and I think all of the studies in that first flurry at least involved ensuring that people cut calories to match the amounts of chocolate they were consuming (whereas for probably a lot of us in real life, consuming chocolate is likely to increase calorie consumption.) And what they demonstrated were small changes in what are called surrogate endpoints -- medical tests that are thought to correlate with disease and risk of morbidity, but that aren't themselves actual positive health outcomes. In other words, they didn't involve any evidence that chocolate made heart attacks less likely, or instances of sudden cardiovascular death, or anything like that, just that it improved some measure of arterial bloodflow, at least at the conclusion of the two-week long study. (Leaving open what the results would have been if they had continued for months or years.)

But regardless of how weak the evidence may be for chocolate being a health food (it was very, very week four or five years ago when they started pushing it, and a lot of the hype was paid for by the manufacturers, but that might be less true now) -- regardless of all that, whether chocolate is healthy or harmful, a few crystals of sea salt on top are not going to make a huge difference. They're not even going to make a significant difference in the eater's sodium consumption that day, so it's silly to worry much about it.

Aug 20, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Why the overtly salted sweets?

Of course too much salt is hazardous to people with kidney disease; the kidneys are responsible for maintaining the right levels of electrolytes in the blood and obviously if they're not working right then being very careful to consume salt (and other minerals) in the right quantities is key.

That doesn't change the fact that in healthy people who aren't on the sort of dietary restrictions that kidney dialysis patients have to follow need to worry much about salt intake, and the problem with people making these claims about how we need to reduce our salt intake is that there is literally no real data on the effects of reducing salt intake in the general population. No one's ever done a randomized, controlled, double-blinded trial on healthy people. And, in fact, the one study that exists, one done on patients with congestive heart failure, showed a HIGHER mortality rate on patients on sodium-restricted diets.

Everyone can eat how they choose but it's dangerous for the government to go pushing particular diet plans when there is not yet sufficient evidence to know what the effects will be. The government's short-sighted promotion of low-fat diets, while understandable and well-intended, may well be one of the reasons why the obesity epidemic took off the way it did. Bad advice, even if well-intended, is dangerous.

And all that aside, focusing on the salt content of a piece of chocolate with salt crystals or a salted caramel is just nuts. The fifty milligrams or whatever of sodium in that small sprinkle of salt is not what makes the thing unhealthy. And if, for whatever misguided reason, you really do wish to reduce your sodium intake, salted desserts are the last place to focus on, because the amount is minuscule compared to your entire sodium intake.

Aug 19, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Why the overtly salted sweets?

That's a good point, that chocolate may be tasty but it's doing your arteries no favors in the long run. Worrying about the sprinkle of salt on top is like not eating the parsley on the side of your plate in order to slim down.

Aug 19, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

How much fat in your favorite hummus?

I'm with you. Hummus is nutritious, satisfying, and delicious, and fat in the form of olive oil and tahini is healthy as far as fats go. It also contributes to making you less hungry later. Worrying about the fat content of hummus seems absurd to me; if anything, almost everyone should be eating more hummus, not less.

Aug 19, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Why the overtly salted sweets?

Salty sweets just taste good. For instance, caramel on its own can be cloying, due to the sweetness and the rich butterfat, but salt cuts through that, and helps bring out the savory element of the butter and cream, making it more complex. Salted caramel is not a new thing, although it's probably newly trendy in the US (although even in the old days your regular Smuckers brand caramel sauce and things like that generally had a decent pinch of salt in them.)

As for most people consuming too much salt, well, the science behind the push to reduce salt in our diets is really, really vague and there are plenty of reasons to suspect that a government push to reduce salt in our diets is likely to be just as harmful as the push to get people to eat low fat diets was. Regardless, the little sprinkle of salt on top of a chocolate or a caramel is a minuscule amount compared to what's found in the typical diet (or even an ideal diet, for that matter). The few crystals on a candy to bring out its flavor are far far less than, say, the salt in a bowl of soup or a salad dressing or most entrees. Even if you choose to buy into the trendy anti-salt hysteria, cutting out salted desserts is not the place to start.

Aug 19, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

chex mix - hot and spicy

I only use the corn and rice because I don't particularly like the Wheat Chex. I just use 4.5 cups of each as the cereal component. I don't think there's any reason not to do just one, if that's what you want (the corn and rice are pretty similar anyway!)

And I'm pretty sure one box contains more than the 9 cups you need for one batch, since I've made two batches and my two boxes of Chex still have at least some cereal in them.

It's your Chex mix, after all. Use what you like. You just need twelve cups of stuff, and the liquid seasoning mix to pour over it.

Aug 19, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Your favorite unusual ice cream flavors in stores

It's quite tasty, tart and pretty intensely lemony which really cuts through the richness of the ice cream nicely.

Aug 19, 2012
Exy00 in General Topics

Gnocchi al Amore Mio

Not going to try until I learn about il tuo amore.

Aug 18, 2012
Exy00 in Recipes

Who Cares Vegan Mac and Cheese

Lord preserve us.

Aug 18, 2012
Exy00 in Recipes

Egg Yolk Ravioli (Uova da Raviolo) with Bacon-Sage Sauce

Who the hell are you inviting to your dinner parties? Who needs to be impressed this hard? Are you inviting Queen Elizabeth and Neil Armstrong on a weekly basis? Because what the hell else could lead you to think you needed to do this?

Aug 18, 2012
Exy00 in Recipes

Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Vodka Sauce

It's basically a myth that alcohol cooks off quickly. This is a large amount of vodka -- almost 7 shots -- and while some of the alcohol will cook off, a lot of it won't. It takes a lot of cooking to lose most of the alcohol, and 40 minutes won't cut it.

Aug 17, 2012
Exy00 in Recipes

Why is the Olive Garden so reviled?

Well, my experience suggests that, for a fair number of people, "inauthentic" doesn't enter into the calculus.

May 15, 2012
Exy00 in Chains

Why is the Olive Garden so reviled?

I don't refuse to eat American Chinese food because it's "inauthentic", though. And all of these chains are producing dumb, mass-produced food for Middle America. But people don't hate on TGI Friday's the same way.

May 15, 2012
Exy00 in Chains

Why is the Olive Garden so reviled?

The idea of food people being dogmatic about Italian food does make sense. There aren't too many major chains that claim to serve a particular cuisine.

May 15, 2012
Exy00 in Chains

Why is the Olive Garden so reviled?

Hahaha!

May 13, 2012
Exy00 in Chains