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I'm neurotic about ... (true confessions)

Last night while I was prepping our salad greens for the week, I had to shake my head at how difficult I make things. I had one of those pre-packages of spinach where the contents are supposed to be already washed and sorted. On TV, I see people just grab handfuls of that kind of product and put it on the plate.

HORRORS. Me, I have to go through the package, tear off stems, toss aged or wilty pieces that don't meet my standards, etc. This particular package of spinach was pretty good, but I've had 'salad packs' in which a large percentage of the goods didn't meet my maniacally high standards.

(because of this, I usually buy non-packaged lettuce; if I have to pick over the whole thing anyway, it's really MORE work to sort through the packaged stuff. My store happens to have worse non-packaged spinach and fairly high quality packaged stuff, so there's less of a differential on the spinach.)

Because I'm weird, at least I guarantee that if you have a salad at my house, you won't be getting any rotten or discolored pieces!! Or any pieces not touched by me. :)

And yes, at restaurants I often have a lot of rejects left on my plate after eating a salad. I'm not a jerk about it, I know it's my own problem ... but I'm just darned picky with salads.

What are y'all weird about?

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  1. I'm the same way. I try to order romaine based salads at restaurants rather than mesculun beacuse I find there's always too many wilty or brown pieces. At home, I buy 3-packs of romaine hearts and loose baby spinach and arugula.

    1. I'm with you on the salad thing. Similar issue with trimming chicken and removing silver skin.

      But I have too many other cooking related neurosis to mention. Don't get me started on my hand washing!

      1. I'm neurotic when it comes to how my sandwich is put together. Sometimes I direct people when I get a sandwich. I need the fixings to be in a certain order. It's very rude of me. I should stick to making sandwiches myself.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Eat.Choui

          from Roaseanne season 3, Dan's dream lover orders a BLT sandwich from Roseanne at 7:20
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O40ps9...

          "Wait, put the mayo on the side. In fact, put everything on the side. I'll put it together myself because you won't get it right."

        2. I have found my people.

          I completely understand. Salad and undesirable wilt-y and/or brown pieces became such an issue for me, I rarely touch a restaurant salad.

          (one particularly ugly salad caused me to pile all the offending greens on another plate and ask the manager if he woud willingly eat that pile? Answer? No. I can't ever go to that restaurant again, I embarassed myself too much.)

          My home salads are beautiful :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: cleobeach

            Y'know, what IS it with restaurant salads? They wouldn't serve moldy bread or stale carbonated drinks, but they'll put discolored, pathetic salads in front of you with impunity!!

            Welcome home. :D

          2. Hi all,

            Not neurotic at all. Nothing wrong with wanting nice food.

            I'm with you, especially with the salad.

            Hate it when the stem end of the tomato hasn't been removed. Seems to me most all of the TV chefs do that. Especially Rachael Ray...

            Lucy

            1. I can't stand anything hot out of the oven that is related to bread (pizza crust, toast, loafs, etc) being put on a cold plate. It's steams, and makes it soggy on the bottom. I've got to have a toast rack, and my local pizza place gave me a cool pan that has little bumps on it that hold the crust up off the surface so it doesn't steam. Love that pan! If I'm served warm bread, I'll lay it on the bread plate, but move it around several times when it starts to get moist underneath. That's the true confession of my weird issue :-)

              1 Reply
              1. re: arashall

                >>>>I can't stand anything hot out of the oven that is related to bread (pizza crust, toast, loafs, etc) being put on a cold plate. It's steams, and makes it soggy on the bottom. <<<<

                Toast sweat = what it leaves on the plate.

              2. No matter how many times our daughter insists that we don't need to.......... my wife and I insist on rinsing off everything that goes into our dishwasher. It's a good quality, not-too-old GE Monogram and I've been in discussions here about this before, but we just don't think the few seconds rinsing takes is a sacrifice especially with food residue that will dry and get crusty on things.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Midlife

                  I do this too, but my rinsing things has to be very, very hot tap water. I nearly burn my fingers getting the dishes and silverware rinsed. I guess I am neurotic and didn't realize this. :)

                2. My gf does exactly the same thing with spinach and lettuce!! Drives me nuts! It'll take her 15 min. to put together a salad that I'd throw together in 3.

                  1. I'm neurotic about smokers preparing my food, especially uncooked foods.

                    I can think of two reasons.
                    I've never really given it that much thought until I was married.
                    My in-laws and my wife's siblings are heavy smokers.
                    During the holidays, we'd go to their house and I enjoy helping out in the kitchen. They'd all take smoke breaks and come back smelling like an ash tray which grossed me out.

                    Another time was at a diner when smoking was very common. I ordered a piece of pie to go. The pie tasted like cigarette smoke.

                    Now, when I go to restaurants and I see the staff smoking in the alley, I avoid salads, breads and other unheated foods that are touched by their hands.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dave_c

                      Really, wow. I am a something of a smoker still, but I have been won over into the "it's a nasty disgusting habit and I should quit" camp. But it's very, very hard. And there any many times in the kitchen when you just need to stop fussing with things and let them sit for 3-5 minutes, and so a smoke on the balcony seems natural. Now, people have told me that because of my light habit that I don't smell like smoke, and my house - which has never been smoked in - does not smell like smoke and because I worked in food service for awhile I am compulsive and thorough hand-washer, but since you say "come back smelling like an ash tray" and such, I imagine that this was the case with all the people that grossed you out also?

                      So is this going on with my dinner guests? Are they also grossed out to eat food that I've made? And what can I do to minimize the gross factor for people like you, besides, you know, NOT smoke?

                      1. re: Raids

                        There a lot more back story to my example...
                        In-laws smoked in the house. Fabreeze helps knock down that lingering aroma, but their clothes always had that smell in their clothes, which refreshed every time they went out for a smoke (they smoked outside when their grandchildren were over.)

                        Also, I helped them paint a room. Washing down the walls, the bucket of bleach water turned brown from the stuff I washed off the wall. I couldn't believe how bright the room became after I washed the wall.

                        For hand washing, they didn't have the mindset of someone who works in the industry. For them, a quick rinse was normal.

                        I doubt your dinner guests are going to react like I did. You don't smoke inside so you don't have the stale aroma lingering in your house and you wash your hands thoroughly.

                        1. re: dave_c

                          Oooh, many a smoker has been convinced to quit by repainting. It's just *disgusting*

                          And thanks for your thoughts. If you think of anything else that would help mitigate the ew factor for my guests, definitely let me know. :-)

                          Also, just a story - at my old apartment I would regular see the sushi chef's from the swanky sushi restaurant down the street in the alley smoking and that kind of grossed *me* out, I have to be honest.

                          1. re: Raids

                            as a smoker (and a former heavy one) I've noticed even I can smell me if I don't take a few very deep breaths when done, as smoke particles are still being exhaled for a few lung-buckets full afterwards.

                    2. I don't re-wash the clamshells of spinach, but I do pick through the entire thing. With loose greens, I'm really picky when choosing at the store, then carefully sort again at home before washing and storing.

                      I normally pile anything questionable on the side of the plate when eating out. If it's anything significant (not just me being picky) I bring it to someone's attention.

                      Salads and PB&J are favorite lunches, but I can't completely assemble either before work. Instead I bring little containers with the ingredients all separated ...

                      1. I do that too and don't think it is neurotic in the least. Who wants to eat spoilt salad? But more important, I don't trust "pre-washed" salad at all - I always rinse it at home and dry it in the salad spinner.

                        I don't really eat anywhere the salads are less than fresh - have not had that disagreeable experience.

                        1. I'm coming to realize (ahem; thanks to my family for, ahem, pointing this out repeatedly) that I'm a little neurotic about picking over dried legumes. It's a regular sight here to have me balancing a half-sheet pan full of some-bean-or-another on my lap while I'm supposed to be watching a movie. (But those beans are clean!)

                          I'm pretty comfortable with that particular behavior, despite the good-natured ribbing; one unfortunately missed pebble can ruin things in a spectacular fashion, dentristry costs being what they are...

                          1. I'm neurotic about pulling things out of the garbage disposal. My spouse feels the disposal can handle anything, despite continual "reeducation campaigns" by me. Now I just follow along behind and pull the onion chunks, eggshells, and whatnot out by hand.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: tcamp

                              I hear you. Husband #1 grew up in a household that regularly shoved chicken carcasses down the disposal and his carrying on of that tradition led to more than a few very nasty, very messy plumbing issues. Husband #2 has been on the receiving end of "reeducation campaigns" and is doing quite well, thank you. After, that is, he realized that the compost pile is the place to put the peelings from 10 lbs. of potatoes on Thanksgiving in order to avoid said nastiness/messiness. A little neurotic behavior with the garbage disposal is a plus in my ledger!

                              (BTW, love your cavy avatar!)

                              1. re: cayjohan

                                tcamp and cayjohan - you made my day! I laughed out loud at your "reeducation campaigns"

                                I am married to a chicken shover and no amount of reeducation will change his ways. I have fished bottle caps, corks, bamboo skewers, etc. out of the disposal and his reaction is 1.) how did that get in there? or 2.) I can't believe it didn't go down.

                                Potatoe peelings are the only thing he won't put in because one New Years day, he spent the better part of the day in the basement taking apart the drain lines.

                                I am seriously considering not get another disposal when the current one dies, which will happen soon rather than later.

                                1. re: cleobeach

                                  cleobeach, our much-abused disposal did finally die recently (it'd been installed in the mid 1970s) and I too resisted putting in another. But the Rube Goldberg Machine-type plumbing situation under the kitchen sink (what they were thinking, I'll never know - but it's pretty much unfixable without very extensive re-plumbing) meant even the little bits of dishwater gunk became a drain problem. A couple of weeks of that and I caved and acquiesced to a new disposal. It's hard to go back. Let a new chapter of disposal neurosis begin! (I feel safe on the potato peeling front, however, because my hub's experience was exactly the same as yours. Ack.)

                                  Now if I can just cure my daughter of her slightly neurotic behavior of only eating ice cream with demitasse spoons (fewer calories that way?!!? really?!?). I'm quite tired of fishing tiny mangled sink-gunk-covered spoons out of the disposal!

                                  1. re: cayjohan

                                    >>>>Now if I can just cure my daughter of her slightly neurotic behavior of only eating ice cream with demitasse spoons (fewer calories that way?!!? really?!?).<<<<

                                    Actually, there's truth to what your daughter says, at least in theory. If she eats tiny little spoonfuls of ice cream, she's less likely to go back for another bowl. Since it takes her longer -- again, theoretically -- to finish, she's more likely to fill up before she finishes the bowl.

                                    1. re: Jay F

                                      Actually that is true, and it is better to eat most things slowly. Just so the ice cream doesn't melt. She should take better care of the little spoons though.

                                      1. re: lagatta

                                        Lol - I do admire my daughter's small bite methodology, if not her utensil v. plumbing follow-through! The Cuteness Factor here involves her wanting to take the set of battle-scarred demitasse spoons with her to college for ice-cream eating, because they'll remind her of home. New demitasse spoons on the horizon for me! I might have to run one through the disposal at some point, just for the memories. Or maybe not... <grin>

                            2. I started the following post a while back. I think it says it all.

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/707462

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                But you'll eat raw sausage in Italy - what kind of a kitchen did that come from ;-)

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Have you ever been in a kitchen in Italy? We mostly eat at trattorias in Italy and these kitchens are usually family run and probably cleaner than my kitchen at home. You know buttertart, I never said I was sane. :)

                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                    I was just pulling your leg - we all have our foibles.

                              2. I never buy packaged salad or greens for this reason. I buy a head of red leaf lettuce, that has been carefully inspected by me. If the bottom stem has the least bit of rust look to it, I don't purchase it.
                                And I don't order a salad in a restaurant either.

                                My biggest neurosis is "Salad Bars", won't go near them.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mcel215

                                  I heartily agree on the salad bar issue; it's a difficult sell for me. Along with most buffets, honestly. It's not an absolute deal-breaker, but the little neurotic in my head lets me know I'd really *rather not.*

                                  Hnnh...this thread is really making me examine some food/cooking tics I have...

                                2. I get really wound up over the design of cutlery and flatware. mostly the size and balance, but often goes deeper than that. if I know there's a style I'd prefer over what's been set (in a house with an eclectic collection) I've been known to get up and re-set my place. I'm ok using the offending pieces in the act of cooking, just not at the table.

                                  1. I'm nuts about plating and presentation in my own home. Even if I've only cooked for myself. I often eat in front of the tv on the coffee table, but I will set it properly, plate and garnish my food nicely and in the winter I often light a candle and put it near me. I'm sure there is a medication out there for me....

                                    1. Pulling the crusts off of almost all store bought bread. Homemade bread crusts I can deal with, for whatever reason, but store bread almost never. Kind of sad, cuz' a lot of times, I end up w/ a weird, misshapen sandwich.

                                      1. What are y'all weird about?
                                        ~~~~~~~~~
                                        i've been a neurotic freak since before i could walk...if i listed even half of it here you all would send the men with straitjackets after me.

                                        the bonus is that i have one of the cleanest, most organized kitchens you've ever seen, and when you eat at my table there's no chance you'll find something in your food that shouldn't be there :)

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          so GHG, does the TV show "Monk" entertain or annoy you? or Phil Hartman as the 'Anal-Retentive Chef' on the old SNL.

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            never seen Monk....probably out of subconscious fear that it would hit too close to home ;)

                                            i did like the Anal-Retentive chef, but i was always a Phil Hartman fan.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              yeah we lost Hartman too soon.

                                              saw an ad for Monk - he was doing undercover in a grocery store as the guy who has to clean the spillage, being praised by his boss for being "the best employee we've ever had"

                                              1. re: hill food

                                                Cool topic.

                                                I will not eat anything that has been doused in ketchup. I like the stuff, but it must be on the side. No matter what it is. fries, onion rings, eggs... I am a dipper.

                                                  1. re: Miri1

                                                    Same here, and I only eat ketchup on two things: eggs and grilled cheese.

                                          2. Right there with you on the salad thing. Here in Massachusetts, wilty, anemic, brown and generally crappy salads are the norm unless you're at a high end restaurant. But most places graciously dump a stinky load of raw onions on top to disguise the anemia. Yeah, that helps.

                                            At home I always wash my greens, even if they come pre-bagged and washed. Sometimes buying bagged greens is the only way you're going to get the organic stuff.

                                            And yes, I have a lot of other hygiene-related neuroses, but I'd rather not think about them too much or I would never eat out.

                                            1. Deveining raw shrimps. Gotta do it.

                                              1. Free food samples freak me out. I absolutely hate being offered a food sample.

                                                The idea of eating them makes my skin crawl.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: redfish62

                                                  I wouldn't say they freak me out, but I don't eat them, partly because they're cut up and doled out by people wearing those nasty plastic gloves. I can't stand it when people wear those things to cook (or assemble).

                                                2. Peas and Cheese.

                                                  I would never eat peas. My mother would freak after serving vegetable soup and find a complete layer of peas left over at the bottom. Yet I adore pea soup. Go figure....

                                                  Cheese. Revolting stuff. Spoiled milk gone worse. Not on pizza, not on a sandwich. Not in Italian food. Not sprinkled on top. NONE, NADA. Zero..... Try ordering out with this one....