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I learned that Salmonella could also infect fishes, that we all have residient and transient microorganisms in our hands, no matter how many times we wash them. I learned that if the meat remains pink all through cooking, despite being heated at high temperatures, it has been exposed to nitrites. I learned that the sarcinae sickness is a type of beer spoilage, meaning that the beer has a honey like odor. I leaned that friends sometimes lie, occasionally of course. I learned that soy sauce has a two stages fermentation process and it ages at least one year.

I learned that sous-vide is a preservation method, which consists in vacuum, mild heat treatment and cold storage. I learned that ground meat needs to be cooked well done, always no matter what, because “the surface contaminants” that are on the product (and believe me there are!), will be mixed into the middle of it. Conversely, bloody steak lovers, you can eat your piece of meat safely even if the interior is undercooked because the contamination is only on the surface. I learned that sometimes people prefer to postpone the inevitable because they do not feel ready, but they are.

I learned that Listeria can be found in deli meats, soft cheeses, pate’ and smoked fish. I learned that, in an airplane, crew members and  passengers eat different meals in order to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses and the diffusion among the whole plane. I learned that spores are ubiquitous (love this word!). I learned that even the strongest friends, the ones with a constant smile on their lips, have bad days.

I learned that Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Norovirus are the most diffuse food-borne infections. I learned to make “educated guess”. I learned that the large round “eyes” (holes) in the semi-hard cheeses of the Maasdam type (Emmental) derive from the amount of CO2 formed during the propionic fermentation. I learned that autumn’s foliage here is really beautiful. I learned that food-freezing processes are designed not to maximize microbial lethality, but to minimize loss of product quality.

I learned that they  do not sell round trip train tickets here and that you only need to buy numerous single ways. I learned that Bacillus cereus is responsible for the Chinese restaurant syndrome. I learned that “success” in Dutch means luck. I learned that the wetness and the presence of food debris on the kitchen table could cause transmission of pathogens because microorganisms use food residues and water as nutrients. I learned how to detect Salmonella and Listeria. I learned that my lab coat needs to be ironed very very well after being washed. I learned how to count the D, F and z values of microorganisms. Finally, and most importantly, I learned that no matter how well you prepare or train yourself, life always manages to surprise you in weird and wonderful ways.

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