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Jan 5, 2009 09:26 PM

Trying to avoid food poisoning

A couple of my parents' close friends have extended me a dinner invitation to their house. Now my mother tells me that the hostess makes no secret of the fact that she cooks everything the day before and leaves the dishes out, unrefrigerated, so that she doesn't have to heat things up again before dinner. Ick. Double ick.There is seriously no way I'm eating that. I know that if I eat beforehand and/or eat only uncooked foods that she will be highly offended. I can hopefully plead illness to get out of this dinner but what happens if she extends another, and another, and another invitation? My mother refuses to say a word to her friend and won't hear of me telling her a watered-down version of the truth. She says to just go and eat normally because no one has gotten sick yet, but really...

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  1. I'd have other plans that night. And the next. And the next.


    But I'd invite these friends of my parents over to my house, when I could make sure the health benefits of Twenty-First Century appliances were taken advantage of.

    1. ok, Im going to be pragmatic here.......its one day. its safe as long as it was safe when it was prepared and she doesnt live in a giant bacteria incubator. Havent you ever eaten pizza that got left out over night(that pretty much sums up my college breakfast/lunch's). Honest to god, you stand a magnitudes higher chance of getting sick at McD's.

      Now, if the food is left out AND bad, well im with you on going AWOL!

      6 Replies
      1. re: nkeane

        I was under the impression that food that wasn't refrigerated soon after cooking was a bacterial breeding ground. Or is that not the case? Btw, no, haven't eaten anything left out overnight that shouldn't have been and also don't eat at McD's or equivalent (have enough digestive problems on my own without them, thanks). But, seriously, isn't unrefrigerated food unsafe to eat or am I really overreacting?

        1. re: Jasz

          Yes. but you need to have a starting source of bacteria. You need to introduce the bacteria by touching the food with fecal contaminated hands (from an infected person), mixing in some rotting food, sprinkling some juices from a raw contaminated chicken on the cooled food, or sprinkling on disease spores from the CDC, that sort of thing.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I hadn't thought of that. I was always under the impression (from my mother ironically enough) that just having the food standing out without refrigeration was enough to make it go bad.

            1. re: Jasz

              Jasz, that is simply not true and I'm now really worried about you. You need to have a talk with your mom. Why would she misinform you, then - knowing what she had told you - tell you that her friends leave their food out, and then have you go with them to eat just such food?

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I'm sure she truly believes that to be the case. She refrigerates pretty much *everything* and throws tons of perfectly good food away "just in case." I don't know, maybe it's cultural, maybe generational.

                As to telling me about her friend, it just came up as we were talking about food prep for parties and I mentioned how difficult it was to time everything just so. And as to her not worrying about eating there, I guess other people's houses are just magically safe. Yeah, I don't get it either but she's 76 so I'm not about to be changing her opinion on much at this point and have learned not to even try with many things.

                So could you educate *me* further on food safety, etc. A website to look at would be really helpful.

      2. Nope, jfood is not eating it. I would go and enjoy the company and leave the food o the plate. And feedback will die down in a couple of days and a new invite will not be in the mail.

        6 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          Everyone knows what I might say, but I'm going to slightly surprise you. I wouldn't want to eat there either. I've had enough room temperature food (rtf) in parts of SE Asia. I've never gotten sick from rtf, but it just doesn't taste as good as foods cooked timed to serving, with hot foods hot and cold foods cold. As with most all of the hounds, my cultural orientation is to put a lot of effort into coordinating the cooking of dishes to coincide exactly with serving.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Oh great, now jfood has to find another person for the dumpster. Sometimes the world just gets out of sync. :-))

            1. re: jfood

              You've never seen my little stove hidden behind the dumpster?

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                good news sammy. both propane tanks filled on saturday so there is plenty of fuel for you.

                Happy new year

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Yes! That would be my objection. It actually surprises me that someone who thinks about food preparation as such a burden would even bother to hold a dinner party.

              My husband and I disagree on this - he can eat pretty much anything at room temperature, while I think hot and cold foods at room temperature taste pretty mediocre. He did grow up in Mexico, and his mother still leaves food out for days (no way she could ever fit her huge pozole pot into the refrigerator!), so perhaps he is just accustomed to it. Thankfully, they now have a microwave, so they reheat for the gringa!

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Oh but Sam! Hot foods hot, cold foods cold, and for the room temp ones? Room temp!!! Salad, fried chicken (yes, I like it better RT, so sue me :), cheese, pâté, beans in oil ...

                Feigned horror aside, I'd avoid that place, too. I firmly believe in balancing risk vs reward in eating ... and I think the slight risk (not fresh from the autoclave?) would overwhelm the "reward" here, much in the same way as oysters shucked yesterday served RT in day-old mayo-sauce would, even if served by a VERY good friend.

            3. You are in the fortunate position that these are your parents' friends, not yours. I say, beg off with some excuse, and hope the invitation isn't reissued. If you think it might come, have a handbag full of ready excuses (and don't fall for the "what are you doing Saturday night?" ruse until you know why they are asking!).

              1. Food is for enjoyment (and sustenance), and if neither will happen (ie the porcelain god will instead be sustained), don't bother.

                You're an adult--you don't have to attend the dinner with your parents. If you must go, stay for cocktails and then have other plans. If the invitation reappears, kindly decline.

                There are countless of reasons someone would not want to be dining with their parents at their parents friend's house for dinner with them, and unless you're cynical and getting something from the host in a selfish way--a better job, a place in the will, the perfect partner, invitation to a club...well, then the food doesn't really matter, does it?

                (I love having dinner with my family, but parents+their friends? Generally awkward and uncomfortable, particularly before I was married)

                3 Replies
                1. re: Caralien

                  Guess I should have said "friends of the family" rather than parents' friends although I think of them like that because of their ages and since they have daughters my age. It's also a special occasion, equivalent to a birthday in Greek culture, rather than "just a dinner."

                  It just seems like it would mean a lot to my parents if I went and they don't seem to understand my revolution at the way the food is served (It also doesn't taste very good room temp but that's rather beside the point).

                  1. re: Jasz

                    since it's a family event I would go and not eat the questionable stuff. I agree with most here, it would turn my stomach just thinking about eating stuff that had sat out overnight. I'd eat some bread, some green salad-- hey cheese is ok right? Just say you must be "coming down with something and don't have much of an appetite"

                    1. re: Jasz

                      It seems like you must go, so make the most of it. Have some ginger prior to going as it will settle your stomach.

                      Eat what you can, keep an ample supply of napkins, play with the food on your plate, enjoy the wine, olives, and company.