My son, away from his parents’ eyes, decided to fry an egg.
He has a broken left arm, the result of a fall from a mango tree. He’s an 11-year-old boy, with 11-year-old judgment, next to zero experience in the kitchen, and only one functional arm. He went to fry an egg.
An accident happened. The one who got hurt was the dog, always hanging around whoever had food. The dog had a small oil burn, nothing serious. The boy was unharmed.
I hope what happened made the puppy learn that playing in the kitchen involves real risks.
You work with hot water, with boiling oil, with red-hot metals, with fire. Handles serrated and bladed knives, cleavers, sharp and pointed objects.
There is no cook, professional or domestic, who has never been injured while preparing food. Ultimately, cooking can deform, disfigure or mutilate.
What to do about this? Instruct people to stay away from knives and pans? It does not give. People need to eat, and to eat, they need to make food.
It’s best to teach them to keep their fingers out of the way of the knife, not to pour water into the hot oil and to take good care of the pressure cooker.
If cooking is dangerous, eating can be fatal.
In this indecent heat – it’s 5pm on Friday (17th) and it’s 35 ºC in São Paulo –, rot and contamination work fast and furious.
It’s when so-and-so has a piriri or vomits his guts because he ate a forgotten kibbeh in the greenhouse of the most suspicious bar in the city.
I thought about this strongly when writing my other column, Marcão’s Recipes, which appears on Mondays digitally and on Tuesdays in print.
With my brain melting, I just wanted some refreshment. Something cold. Then I remembered yukhoe – a Korean dish of raw, chilled meat, with an equally raw, chilled egg yolk.
It was the refreshment I was looking for, but there was one issue: raw meat, raw eggs, extreme heat, all of this together can cause serious intoxication if the person is sloppy.
As I was writing, I realized the need to include a warning in the text. Neither too discreet nor scandalous to the point of discouraging the reader from preparing the recipe.
It ended up coming out like this:
“Yukhoe is made from raw meat and eggs, foods that always pose some health risk. Take care of these three precautions: impeccable hygiene, fresh ingredients and speed in preparation and service.”
The risk will always be there, but it’s less if you don’t feed the little monsters that live in the dirt. I can say, without hesitation, that food like this is safer at home than in a restaurant.
At home, you know what you’re doing. There are squeaky clean restaurants and filthy restaurants: in both, the customer has no idea what happened to the food between purchasing the ingredient and assembling the dish.
Still, there is no point in wanting to ban the sale of steak tartare, carpaccio, sushi, sashimi, poke, ceviche or live oysters.
We are not 11 year olds. Being an adult, among other things, means choosing the risks we are willing to take.
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