Seafood- A Few Things to Keep in Mind and Avoid

Care for your tummy

You know, there’s just something about eating food out of a can (well, not directly out of the can, silly) that says, ‘Safety’. Now, if the can is curiously the shape of a softball, perhaps it would be best to avoid it, but for the most part, canned foods are considered among the safest foods out there. Then, of course there are the foods that come in plastic wrappers, like Little Debbie snack cakes or the myriad of chips available to the nutritionally frivolous. Yeah, and I especially love those ultra-brittle bags that, when touched by the slightest degree, create a crinkling sound equaling the decibels of a chainsaw and bring everyone wondering, ‘What you got there?’. One wonders if they do that intentionally to alert the world that the midnight snacker is at it again.

“You know, if you eat that, you’re going to end up on a season of ‘The Biggest Loser.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I can hear that bag of Cheese Puffs you’re digging into.”

“How? You live across the street?”

“Well, duh. Why do you think they make those bags so noisy? So people like me can hear people like you stuffing your face long after Letterman is over.”

You hang up the phone feeling naked and exposed. That’s especially heinous when you’ve eaten your one millionth bag of Cheese Puffs in your life. Eww.

The thing is, in our world where everything is disposable, like wrappers, cameras, and in Nebraska, children, we tend to lose focus on the fact that foods that not having artificial preservatives as the main ingredient tend to be perishable. Yes, perishable. They can rot, spoil, and develop a rich coating of trichinosis, salmonella, and bunches of other nasty things that leave you in the bathroom. And when I say left in the bathroom, after just a few minutes of you being in there after exposed to these tricky bugs, people are bricking up the bathroom door.

But the thing to keep in mind (write this on a rock- you can have more than a bad tummy. You can be bricked up in the can, dead) is that certain foods are particularly foul when allowed to go bad. Meats are an obvious example, which is why your mother always got on you when you hid that bucket of chicken under your bed for more than a week. Pizza is another example, when left under your bed for more than a week. Sure, you might be able to leave it under there for a couple days, but when that mysterious fur starts, you know, the fur that looks like fresh-spun cotton candy from The Twilight Zone, then it is time to throw it out.

Milk is another example. Please, allow me to tell you a tale of something I did when I was basically a kid (oh, okay, so I was in my late twenties) that cost me several days of work and what sick-pay I had left (the majority of it paid for my days at the beach). One morning I woke up, which somehow sounds redundant, and I decided I would have what was left in the Wheaties box. I sat down with the cereal and milk nearby, placed down my bowl, poured the cereal, and then noticed a certain odor when I popped the cap off the milk jug.

“Whew, but that smells rather sour,” I said after fighting my gag reflex. “Well now this sucks. I wanted a bowl of cereal, the cereal is in the bowl, and the milk is right here, but all sour. And even a little chunky. What do I do now?”

There are reasons, good reasons, why many people refer to me as among the smartest people they have ever met. But they would have reconsidered that particular morning. So there I was, with cereal and bad milk, the Family Feud on the tube, and I quite hungry. I was thinking it sucks to have sour milk and wondering what to do about it. And that’s when genius struck!

“I know! I got it! Eureka! The milk is sour, but my handy-dandy little sugar bowl is almost full! Now, everybody knows the opposite to sour is sweet, right? Of course they do. So, what I’ll do is add a considerable dose of sugar to my breakfast, and that should cancel out the sourness in the milk! Screw the Family Feud. I should be on Jeopardy.”

Oh yeah, jeopardy is the key word here. Within an hour of completing my brilliant maneuver, I should’ve been bricked up into the bathroom, and I would’ve been if not recently divorced. I was sick as a dog (whatever that means) for two days. Okay class, let’s review- Sugar does not cancel out sour milk.

Author’s Note- This is supposed to be a humorous article, and I might enjoy the humor of it even more if the milk story wasn’t the absolute truth. Beyond that, I pulled the same stunt a few months later, thinking the last time I didn’t add enough sugar. Gospel truth, kids. Sure, I am a bright, conscientious, and incredibly sexy guy with a head full of ideas, but sometimes logic arrives in doses. Okay, back to our story…

Meanwhile, back in Gotham City, there was a particular sort of food I wanted to give notable attention to, and believe me, you’ll want to pay close attention. If there is one sort of food you do NOT want to allow to go bad, it is seafood.

My friends, seafood is among the most dangerous foods of all when it comes to the risk to your health, and even your life, if not consumed when fresh and/or not prepared properly. No kidding, people have been known to become a statistic when eating bad tuna or meat from giant water bugs like shrimp or lobster. Therefore, in order to look out for your health and safety, and to be a good friend, I would like to provide a list of seven things you should avoid when eating seafood. Does everyone have a pen? Okay, here we go…

Never attempt to sun-bake or sun-dry on the dashboard, and then eat your seafood

Please note that there are certain foods that can be left on the dash, but seafood is not on that list. The various bacteria and other creepy-crawlies that infect seafood and turn it quickly from something scrumptious to something lethal grow so rapidly that leaving seafood on the dash to cook or cure renders it noxious well within an hour.

Further, seeping sea foods tend to stain many finishes on most modern dashboards, particularly those treated with Armor All or something similar. Then, there is the smell. Sure, the crawfish might turn a delectably ruddy color when exposed to the summer sun while corralled onto the dash with the plastic fencing from your electric train set, but by the time you’re done with theater-hopping and avoiding the theater management, and then get back to the car, those little buggers are all on their back and reeking to there and back. Uh, no, that does not mean they’re done. There is a reason the tint on your windows is peeling away; this environment is extremely dangerous and to be avoided. So don’t think eating those things while holding your nose is going to keep you from reaching your insurance deductable.

Do not save back that Shrimp Platter that never got eaten on New Year’s Eve until the Superbowl

The old saying goes, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.”

While that actually has little to do with this avoidance lesson, it does mention something pertaining to seafood, so there you go. Anyway, those chips you opened just before singing ‘Auld Lange Sine’ might be okay if you brush away any dip that got on them, but that shrimp platter is just plain old going down fast long before the big game. So, not only do you want to avoid this platter of poison being eaten by you or your loved ones, but you want to avoid allowing any of your friends over to eat from it. Because, and this is important, because if they eat it and survive, the old saying, “Litigation is America’s favorite pastime,” will be more than familiar to you.

At your favorite seafood restaurant, avoid the ‘Manager’s Special’.

Business is business, so that old saying goes. That includes businesses such as seafood restaurants, which are run by nice folks who are out to make a buck just like everyone else. It isn’t difficult to imagine how irritating it must be for those in this restaurant variety to look at a row of slabs of ultra-quality salmon and mahi-mahi that are quickly reaching their expiration date and therefore must go. So, the managers are left in a quandary. Do they wish upon a star and hope some good folks will order several slabs of on-the-edge fish and seafood because they have a busload of acrobats just back from regional competition and they know they have to feed this bunch on a budget? This scenario, as you can imagine, is quite unlikely. The next great option is akin to the business strategy known throughout commerce, and that is the sale.

Your local auto dealerships (if there are any left in your local area) will surely have sales of last year’s models during the turn of the year sale events, demonstrating how anyone who bought a car from them any time before that sale was a complete and total dumbass. If you get out to an electronics retailer and see any of the older model televisions (you know, the ones that are not these paper thin flat screen LCD or Plasma models), you’ll see them being sold for a scant song-and-dance merely because they need to go. Honestly, there isn’t anything wrong with these TV’s that is until one must move, when the issue of weight and size comes into play. We could come up with the same example with your department stores marking down rhinestone-studded bellbottoms for half price.

This is what’s going down when you see ‘Manager’s Special’ at a seafood restaurant. The fact is that these choices of seafood are on the cusp of becoming Death from the Sea, so unless you’re experiencing a nasty divorce or you’re forced to choose from eating this deal or faking your own death for personal and economic reasons, perhaps you should avoid any seafood that isn’t the freshest of fresh.

Do not attempt to microwave a live lobster

Just so you know, this list of 7 items isn’t just limited to safety concerns or the realm of food poisoning. Sure, food poisoning, particularly problems associated with seafood, should be a concern in the mind of anyone sitting down before a plate of oceanic goodness, but we should also consider protocol as a matter of civilized behavior.

There are many who see dropping an unsuspecting water bug such as a lobster into a pot of boiling water as cruel, but those who know that these tasty bugs are best when they’re that fresh. Oh, as an aside, anyone who argues that shrimp or lobsters are not bugs is in a sad state of denial. They have many, many legs, an exoskeleton, eyes on antennas, and mouth parts that creep out the most jaded biologist, so all that adds up to bug. Deal with it. Water bugs are good and tasty.

But just because they’re bugs, it doesn’t mean their suffering isn’t a point of concern. We are supposed to be civilized, so even the predatory carnivores among us should consider humane and ethical ways of dispatching the quarry we’re about to feed on as a matter of decency. Therefore, if you’re going to have lobster for a meal, it is best to know the proper way of preparing this dish rather than trying to take the easy way out, like we tend to do with popcorn. Hey, just because there is such a thing as popcorn shrimp doesn’t mean it is made like popcorn.

Besides, the quality of the prepared meal may not be up to the standard expected from lobster or shrimp when nuked. The cooking process is just different, so the chance that you’re meal is going to be just like what’s placed before you at your favorite restaurant is low. Another thing to consider is the issue of your appetite, and if you stand there to watch your meal nuked to completion, chances are the images and sounds you’ll experience just might leave you with far less of an appetite than you had when you started. So, avoid this manner of cooking anything alive, if you would, please.

The Doggie Bag

Not only is the label of ‘doggie bag’ less than appealing, the notion that anything in that bag is going to keep until you get home to put it in the fridge is less than appealing, too. The fact is that it is rare that anyone goes to a movie and then dinner, but just the other way around. So unless the car is quite cool because of the weather, any doggie bag collected is a risk right from the start when you consider what’s in it may not be placed in refrigeration for hours and then not consumed until the next day. That isn’t how you want to keep seafood, even if it was properly cooked.

After all, you don’t want to be at work the next day telling friends and coworkers over lunch how well the date went just to conclude the conversation with heavily soiled clothes and a call to 911. So avoid the seafood doggie bag, or accept the risk as well as the minimized opportunity for a second date.

Unconventional combinations

While this point on our list of things to avoid isn’t a major deal, it is something to keep in mind when preparing canapés, petit fours, or other various finger foods for picnics and parties.

Making little peanut butter and shrimp casserole sandwiches may not get a big turnout, so don’t make too many, and don’t leave them on the picnic table under the bright sun on a summer day for people to graze through at their leisure. This is particularly wise to consider at a pool party, since it only takes one victim of seafood poisoning to spoil the pool for everyone else. We could go on and on about this subject, but it is safe to say most would get the point.

The pathetic cliché of raw oysters

This is just one of those things that somehow came to be so popular among people, and to be honest, it’s difficult to see how it makes any real sense. Statistics show that eating raw oysters is a risk since many people have been known to get violently sick after eating these. Further, the notion that eating raw oysters is somehow a turn-on or some secret aphrodisiac is a mere rumor. Green M&M’s comes to mind.

By the way, anyone wearing a T-shirt reading, ‘There is only one other thing that tastes better than an oyster, but you don’t eat it on a cracker’ should be slapped. Actually, they should be tarred and feathered.

Quick steaming of the oyster firms the flesh and brings out a very pleasant flavor, as well as minimizing the risk of illness. Give up the fanfare and give this moderate choice a try. However, if you’re one of those who have to try everything at least once, then by all means have some raw oysters. Just don’t be an ass and pretend it’s the most amazing thing, like those highfalutin fools who pretend caviar is worth the money, or the waste of a cracker. Just admit the stuff is slimy, too salty and nasty, simply because it is.

So, there you have it! 7 things to avoid when eating seafood. I’m glad I was here to help. Okay, we’re off for some sushi!

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