Posting will be light the rest of the week, as we prepare for the annual 4th of July do. Look for reports on whole hogs and local brisket next week. In the meantime, the folks at Epicurious offer a puzzling tidbit on summer food safety myths. This is all good advice, but I have a hard time thinking of anyone who actually believes the following myths:
Myth: You can nuke meat and poultry early in the day and then just put it on the barbie for long enough to get those great grill marks.
Myth: You can tell a burger's done by its color, and brown means it's safe to eat.
Myth: You don't need a cooler if you've got an air-conditioned car, and those sandwiches will be fine in the backseat till you get to the beach.
Myth: Foods packed in a chilled cooler are safe to eat for hours.
I really want to party with the people who believe this: "That chicken salad was in the back of my Fiero-- it will be fine." I had hoped for actual myths, like the world began when Gaia formed the first man and woman out of some egg salad She had lying around and was afraid had gone off, but evidently Epicurious has a different understanding of mythology than the Cod. In an effort to clear up this discrepancy, I did some research, and discovered that the Wikipedia entry on Roland Barthes also touches on food safety:
Barthes' many monthly contributions that made up Mythologies (1957) would often interrogate pieces of cultural material to expose how bourgeois society used them to assert its values upon others. For instance, portrayal of wine in French society as a robust and healthy habit would be a bourgeois ideal perception contradicted by certain realities (i.e. that wine can be unhealthy and inebriating). He found semiology, the study of signs, useful in these interrogations. Barthes explained that these bourgeois cultural myths were second-order signs, or significations. A picture of a full, dark bottle is a signifier relating to a signified: a fermented, alcoholic beverage - wine. However, the bourgeois take this signified and apply their own emphasis to it, making ‘wine’ a new signifier, this time relating to a new signified: the idea of healthy, robust, relaxing wine. Motivations for such manipulations vary from a desire to sell products to a simple desire to maintain the status quo. These insights brought Barthes very much in line with similar Marxist theory.
Thus Epicurious opines:
Myth: Mayonnaise is a major culprit in food-poisoning outbreaks.
Truth: Store-bought mayo can actually retard the growth of food-borne bacteria thanks to some of its ingredients, including salt and lemon juice. But many dishes that contain mayonnaise tend to be handled a lot — you add celery or parsley to egg salad and then spread it on bread, for instance — so there are more opportunities for the food to be contaminated.
Mystery solved. Remember, be safe this holiday, and cover your children with at least a quarter-inch layer of Hellman's before you send them out to play.