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Chicken Stock "Etiquette" Question

Hello Hounds --

I have a question that I couldn't answer by searching this board. I don't know that it will yield a right or wrong answer. I'm just curious what you all think of this.

If I have some people over, and serve them each a roasted half chicken, is it "okay" to make a stock from the bones after the chicken has been on someone's plate? What if I plan to use that stock in a meal for other guests in the future? What if everyone acted like they were raised by wolves, and ate with their hands? :-)

My personal feelings are that it's okay because the water -> stock will be plenty hot. But it will probably never reach a full boil... gentle simmer at the most. How would you feel if you knew a stock had been made with "used" bones in this way?

Secondary question, just out of curiosity: Can restaurants do this?

Apologies if this has been discussed before. I couldn't find this kind of discussion by searching.

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  1. I'll bite........No and No

    1. I don't see any reason why not. I assume that the process of making the stock would kill any germs etc. Although I would not want a restaurant doing it.

      I think you should carve the breast and serve it removed from the bird to each guest along with their thigh/leg/wing. That should leave you with enough to make stock.

      4 Replies
      1. re: MRich

        RSVP......Thank you for thinking of me, but I am sorry I will not be able to attend.....Regrets.


        1. re: fourunder

          No problem. I was only inviting you to be polite anyway. ;)

          BTW, can you specify your objections or is it just icky to you?

          1. re: MRich


            It's nice to see some still have a sense of humor here....

            Actually, I really do not have any real objections, other than whether it is ethical or not. My attitude is * what I do not know cannot hurt me * , so in that sense......I'm protected. My response has to do with the fact the query was posed with the bones coming off the *guests plates*.....did they simply debone with their utensils, or did the bones meet their mouths first , and or, did they use their hands? To solve this problem if it were mine, I would simply remove the bones in the kitchen before plating. Very simple and easier for the guests. If it were merely a family dinner and not an event, I see no reasons why you couldn't have a bowl on the table and request everyone pull the bones from the half chicken and toss them in.

            In reality, I'm really in the same camp with your positions. I see no consequences from a health standpoint.....just the person's reputation.

            1. re: fourunder

              BTW I don't think I do this myself, at least that I can recall. So we'll still hold a place for you at the table.

              You might want to note that I wash my wine stems by hand and don't use soap on them in case that weirds you out too.

      2. I did this at a family dinner 1x. Ill advised. I think I was drunk. Just say uh-uh.

        1. Since I always want the bones for stock making, I always carve the bird and serve- Keep the "unshared" parts for stock.

          Restaurants should never, ever re-use any food that's gone out to a table for any reason.

          5 Replies
          1. re: cheesemonger

            <<<Since I always want the bones for stock making, I always carve the bird and serve- Keep the "unshared" parts for stock.

            Restaurants should never, ever re-use any food that's gone out to a table for any reason.>>>


            1. re: cheesemonger

              That's what I do and end up with what I call the "carcass", which is basically the body after the legs and wings have been pulled off and the body carved.
              I wouldn't reuse any bones that have been gnawed on ;-)

              1. re: cheesemonger

                I do this, but should add that in addition to the boned carcass, I use raw chicken as well, to make the stock. I like the combo of roasted and raw--it works for me, flavor wise. It doesn't make as pretty a color stock as all raw, though.

                1. re: cheesemonger

                  Same here. If there's a teething kid around I'll give up one of the drumstick bones (for gnawing), but otherwise the carcass and bones stay in the kitchen.

                  And I'm with you 100% on restaurants. The very thought gives me shivers.

                  1. re: cheesemonger

                    Heard a story from a waitress about one of our local mom-and-pop Mexican restaurants that used to pour the leftover salsa from guests tables back into the pot used to fill new orders. I think of that everytime I order at other Mexican restaurants. Although I never returned to mom and pop's.

                  2. I don't think the stock is going to be strong enough to kill e-coli, unless you're putting chlorine bleach in the stock.

                    Save up some money, buy a couple of chickens and make the stock separately.

                    15 Replies
                      1. re: CookieLee

                        This makes no sense. The chicken has already been cooked. If there was Ecoli it would be gone.

                        The only way the leftover chicken bones can get ecoli again is if the diner was carrying some with him. But guess what - it's going right back into boiling water.

                        I totally get why a lot of people would not want to be served "leftover bone stock"...but I've done it before and the stock comes out just fine.

                        1. re: CookieLee

                          E Coli is killed at 165 degrees. Water boils at 212.

                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            Staph toxin is unaffected at 212. Just sayin.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              But the chicken has been eaten and, presumedly the people are fine so there is no e. Coli. IF the people had gotten food poisoning, possibly from the chicken, then it would be irresponsible to use the carcass to make stock. But, there's no difference in the level of e. Coli if I used the carcass from a chicken where I carved the meat first and one where people had their pieces and then I used those bones. I save all my leftover bones to make stock, IF I've carved the meat and no one ate off of the bones. But, that's a personal thing.

                              1. re: chowser

                                I have a general rule, not as yet codified, that once food has been in someone else's mouth, it doesn't later go into my mouth.

                              2. re: cowboyardee

                                Yes, I know. I appreciated your post below about heat-resistant toxins. You make a good point, especially if the chicken has been handled by people who might have staph bacteria on them.

                                I was only addressing the "strong enough" eColi comment.

                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  Fair enough.

                                  Yeah, e coli isn't a very common issue with chicken anyway (though its not unheard of) - you'll see a lot more campylobacter and salmonella.

                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    E. Coli is in all of our systems naturally. The issue isn't it coming from the cooked chicken but from a guest's dirty hands and/or mouths. Our own E. Coli typically won't make us sick, but it can make others sick. Just like how I could give someone a cold by coughing in their face even if I'm not sick. That's the nature of bacteria moving from person to person.

                                    Not that boiling it wouldn't kill that again, but just saying. It's possible for a dinner guest to give your used chicken bones E. Coli, amongst many other things...

                                    On a personal note--I would never eat such a thing if I was aware. Some people have different immune systems than others and I always take this into consideration when prepping food for others. Some people have no problem eating raw fish, eggs, or milk, while it's literally enough to kill others. Yes, boiling kills many things, but there are many others it doesn't. Particularly a slow simmer, as you've mentioned. I read some study years ago stating simmering doesn't kill as MUCH of the bacteria as boiling, so it may eliminate enough to be safe for some, but not others. And there are about 10-15 foodborne bacteria that are not killed at all in boiling water.

                                    Anyway, I'd just de-bone before dinner. Why not? Out of curiosity...

                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                      I'm all for safety and caution. But not for dis-information.

                                      Simmering, as for a stock, over a period of several hours will most definitely kill e coli bacteria as well as any other non-endospore-forming bacteria and leave you with a product that is as safe as almost any other foodstuff, as long as it is handled properly. You can't consider temperature only and ignore time with respect to reducing bacteria. And even then, 185 F is hot enough to effectively pasteurize a substance fully brought up to temperature very, very quickly - for most products, under 20 seconds.

                                      "Some people have different immune systems than others"
                                      This is true. But we're not talking about sashimi, or hollandaise sauce, or oysters, or beef tartare, or even medium rare grilled beef. We're talking about an end product that is absolutely as fully pasteurized as the overwhelming majority of cooked foods you can buy.
                                      The lone safety issue, as I stated above, would be staph toxin if you left the bones to sit out at room temp for a long period before making stock. Or of course any contamination or mishandling after cooking, but that applies to anything.

                                      E coli bacteria will not be in your guests mouths (unless they are fans of activities that probably should not be mentioned in these threads, and even then it is enormously unlikely to be the strain e coli 0157 that is associated with severe food poisoning/hemorrhagic colitis). E coli 0157 will not likely be on your guests hands either unless they have recently touched raw meat or (usually farm) animals. It's a moot point because none of the e coli strains or their toxins will survive stock making.

                                      1. re: nothingswrong

                                        nothingswrong & cowboyardee-

                                        You seem to have a good grasp of some of the science going on, so my question is: would this re-use be more "dangerous" then re-using the silverware and glassware that a guest uses? If these things are being hand washed (or even perhaps in a dishwasher) is that materially different then boiling the bones?

                                        1. re: MRich

                                          cowboyardee--I agree with most of your post. I wasn't clear apparently. I did say E.Coli would be killed by boiling, which has already been established in the thread. I was more responding to an above post which stated E.Coli has no reason for being on raw chicken to begin with, which is not true. Chicken poop and birthing canals are dirty and that's where most of these bacteria come from.
                                          Also, agreed that E.Coli bacteria should theoretically not be in anyone's mouth, unless, like you said, they are fans of certain activities. Aside from these activities though, there are confirmed outbreaks of E.Coli in consumers due to chefs or prep cooks not washing their hands properly after using the bathroom and transferring E.Coli to food. Infected hands going into a person's mouth will transfer bacteria through both channels. I know there are many strains of E.Coli but E.Coli coming from human feces can cause severe illness. I also know I'm being totally nitpicky here, but a family member of mine contracted both E.Coli and Hepatitis from a cook at a restaurant in West LA and she was quite literally on her deathbed for over 4 months. Ensuing elaborate lawsuit concluded with said cook admitting he regularly defecated at work without washing his hands. All food served was cooked (i.e. either boiled, sauteed, or roasted--nothing raw), and yet look what happened! Obviously most likely case is what you pointed out-- cross-contamination is usually the biggest culprit in the kitchen.

                                          I'm highly aware of the emphasis that should be placed on "nitpicky" :)

                                          As for the boiling, I agree that it would kill most things in a long-simmering stock, although not certain clostridium bacteria including botulism. Yes, they don't really have any reason for being on anyone's chicken, but they are heat resistant bacteria. I've spent many years taking care of people who are immuno-compromised and pay great attention these days to the food I serve others, even if they are in perfect health. Sure, it's over-the-top to wash fresh produce with dishwashing soap, but we did it for so many years in my house to literally prevent sick family from dying that it became the normal thing to do. Even though it's not "normal" or necessary for most, it can't hurt anyway what with all these ridiculous outbreaks of E.Coli and salmonella in our produce. And we've already discussed Staph's heat resistance at length so I will not comment further.

                                          MRich--I know people who insist on boiling or "baking" their pots and pans before use, even if they've been in the dishwasher. This seems insane to me, and I'm quite careful (neurotic apparently) in the kitchen. But that is overboard. Sure, you can probably contract things from reusing silverware/glassware like you've mentioned, and no--handwashing and/or dishwashing doesn't necessarily kill all bacteria. The CDC has always stated that many of the cases of "stomach flu" might not be rotavirus but instead foodborne illness. Even others will contract things like salmonella, E.Coli, or listeria and not feel more than a little indigestion or cramping. This goes back to the "we all have different immune systems" bit. What is okay for your family might not be for another and vice versa. But, what are you gonna do? Germs are necessary in developing our immune systems as babies and keeping them revved up as adults. I have known two people who have died from catching a seasonal flu--one was 4 years old, the other in her late 30s. No other health conditions. The rest of their families had the same flu and recovered unscathed within a week or so. These types of things are tragic but unfortunately not avoidable. This is why parents are encouraged to expose their children, within reason, to certain germs (i.e. not be trigger-happy with the Purel all the time). And the same goes for us adults (even the crazy--I mean "careful"--ones like me).

                                          CHOW is going to kick me off of this thread here in a minute, as I always seem to be delving into "unrelated issues." Hopefully they will spare me this time, as the OP was asking about the safety of the freaking chicken.

                                          Thanks for your input cowboyardee--I was up late and being argumentative. I highly doubt anything would really go wrong in reusing the bones. I am more grossed out by the "ick" factor of recycling food that someone may have been sucking on. Don't care who the guest is, it just seems gross to me. And it doesn't seem all too hard to just carve the chicken beforehand. Like they say, "when in doubt, toss it out." If I even doubt my food prep "ethics" in the kitchen, I don't take a chance when serving others.

                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                            Not to worry - I sometimes get argumentative myself. And food safety is a topic I find interesting.

                                            I'm sorry to read about your family member.

                                            To clarify, you're right that other strains of e coli can make you sick. Just not typically the severe or fatal hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic-uremic syndrome from e coli 0157 you hear about on the news.

                                            C. botulinum, or the bacteria responsible for botulism, is one of those endospore formers that I mentioned briefly in my above post. Botulism is not caused directly by the bacteria, but by its toxin, which is also destroyed by heat. Though the bacteria itself may survive the stock making process if it were introduced (maybe you added some garlic), it won't cause any illness unless it is allowed to germinate via poor handling once the stock is cooled. With respect to c. botulinum, stock made from a cooked and eaten carcass is no different than other homemade stock.

                                  2. re: C. Hamster

                                    Am I the only one who reduces my stock before freezing? It is so, so dead.

                                2. You will not be contaminating the stock. However, cooked bones don't contribute much flavor to stock, and it can be grayish in color. They'll boost the gelatin more than the taste. You need to add some raw parts. I would bring the used bones to a rolling boil first, then lower the heat before adding the raw chicken and aromatics. Although I do not think there's anything dangerous in using your leftover cooked bones for stock, I wouldn't use it for other than family consumption, nor would I want to know, when eating out, the origin of that stock. Hypocritical, I know, but that's my reaction.

                                  It is my understanding that it is a violation of food safety regs for restaurants to use any food left on a customer's plate. In some instances that's prudent, in others it's unnecessarily cautious.

                                  1. As someone who's only *meh* about chicken, but loves the stock potential of the carcass, I'll confess to having thought this more than once when dumping a pile of bones into the trash! So I get where you're coming from! But I'd never, ever do it. Too much of an *ick* factor for me.

                                    Carve the bird and save what carcass you can, or get yourself some chicken backs for stock making - cheap and good flavor.

                                    1. Restaurant regulations not withstanding, there are absolutley no health concerns with what you would be doing, the bacteria are destroyed within a few minutes of simmering. Only the aesthetic concerns remain, you may wish to be discreet and not impose on anyones squeamishness. And I disagree about the bones not contributing any flavor, in fac,t the bone marrow is vital to a decent stock.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: dijon

                                        If you leave the bones sitting around room temperature long enough before making stock, you could theoretically allow the build up of enough staphylococcus bacteria (a common bacteria in people's mouths and noses) to create staph toxin, which is heat-stable- not cooked out by the stock making process. This would be my only safety concern.

                                        As far as etiquette goes, I have nothing to add.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          Yeah, my leftover bones immediately go into my freezer for this reason.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            The staph, coli, salmonella from the fecal soup the chickens go through in most commercial butchering operations is by far more concerning, hence the need to thouroughly cook raw chicken, but you are correct, you cant allow the cooked chicken to culture bacteria exotoxins either.

                                        2. I would never make a stock using bones gnawed on by anyone. I think the germs would be killed after starting with a rolling boil and simmering for a long time, but I would ditch those bones and start with new ones. Not worth saving as far as I'm concerned. How thrifty does one have to be?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. Yes, it is okay. I wouldn't do it if the bones were gnawed at though. I only really ever cook for family though, so it doesn't bother me.
                                            The issue is saving the bones without bringing attention to yourself.

                                            I'd be disconcerted if I knew I was eating something made from stock of used bones. I understand that that's hypocritical, but I assume I've eaten plenty of things that would gross me out if I knew how they were made.

                                            1. My ick factor tolerance is sky high, meaning, very little grosses me out. That then leaves the decision to fact-based merit. Seeing as how: 1) The chickens are cooked before giving them to you guests; and 2) the bones are going to be cooked at somewhere between 195 and 210 degrees F for a couple of hours, I see no logical, fact based reason for not doing this.

                                              Let's look at this from a slightly different angle - if we were talking about a family of 4, each given a chicken half at dinner, would people seriously say that you then wouldn't use the carcasses for making stock?

                                              If it's NOT OK to use carcasses from a family dinner, why not? Don't your own fingers touch the carcass as you're carving it?

                                              If it IS OK to use carcasses from your family dinner, but NOT from guests, then maybe it's time for some folks to reevaluate their guest list.

                                              16 Replies
                                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                                A carcass generally gets carved, and yes, of course touched. But we're talking about eating off the bone with your mouth. Different germ/disease potential.

                                                1. re: monavano

                                                  Not really. Like foreverhungry said...it's going into a 200 degree soup stock, anything in there that can get you sick will be long dead.

                                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                                    I don't believe anyone would get ill, but I'm just not that frugal and would not reuse bones that were in someone's mouth.
                                                    Beef stock is another story!

                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                      Speaking of beef stock, I always bring back leftover T-bones from steakhouses and use them for stock. For me it's not so much about being frugal but making the best use of the animal.

                                                      1. re: joonjoon

                                                        I do this too, under the guise of "giving it to the dog", but I don't pick up the bone and gnaw on it, either. And I don't make stock I'm going to "keep" this way—meaning that when I make a small stock from a couple of steak bones, it's going into something like soup that I'm going to be the only one eating. I wouldn't inflict it on other people.

                                                        To me it's not a question of health—I'm not at all germ-phobic—but of politeness. You don't serve guests leftovers.

                                                  2. re: monavano

                                                    A) I'm not sure we're talking about people gnawing bones like they're dogs.

                                                    B) Even if we were, hand contact is actually potentially a bigger deal than someone eating some meat off a bone. Unless we're talking about open sores, disease potential is exceedingly low. As low as a guest touching a few things in your house and spreading disease that way.

                                                    C) Even if A and B occur - gnawing on bones and someone having an illness - you're cooking them at 195 to 210 for several hours.

                                                    Given that, disease potential is the same as when eating at a restaurant, or prepping you're own meal, or going out in public.

                                                    1. re: foreverhungry

                                                      It might be safe to spit in the pot, but that doesn't mean I want to eat soup with spit in it.

                                                      1. re: sarahcooks

                                                        I'd rather take a bite from a chicken leg that a dinner guest took a bite from, or lick an ice cream scoop that a dinner guest licked, than eat a burger made from Costco beef. If spit added some flavor, I'd take it without a blink. Because spit from my girlfriend's mouth will likely be safer than eating something that a line cook with the cold is touching.

                                                        There's a big difference between perception and reality. Spit in soup (if it's close to a boil) is meaningless. There's more out there we should be concerned about.

                                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                                          Indeed. Even though I don't think it'll have much of an impact on the taste/poison-level of the food, I'd feel way awkward if I'm in the middle of a bite and my host says, "Oh thanks you're too kind. Don't feel like you owe me anything. Jambalaya's _so_ cheap. Did I mention that I _even_ let someone eat the chicken before I made stock, and just scraped their leftovers into my stockpot? No? Yeah, Jenny had this cherry lip gloss. It comes through faintly. Now she's the one you should really be thanking. Am I right? Wait, what's wrong?"

                                                          It's like if you bought a brand new trash can to store your potatoes in. Yeah, that's completely okay on a cellular level. It's not any different from keeping them in a bowl, and the lid will prolly keep out light quite effectively. It would still be strange though, to see a cook take potatoes out of the trash and start making hash browns.

                                                          1. re: Altarbo

                                                            This actually sounds like a really good way of storing potatoes and onions...i think i'll try it! lol

                                                            1. re: joonjoon

                                                              Actually, they would stack up too much and cause rot. And we all know what a lovely aroma a rotten potato emits.

                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                Have to disagree that the potatoes will rot. My dad has been storing potatoes in metal garbage cans for 40 years and never had them rot. Even with the lid, by the end of spring the sprouted roots are reaching desparately for the opening, but never rotting.

                                                                One key step is to lay the pototoes out after digging to make sure they are dry before storing. Except for that year he forgot to close the shed door and the ponies got into the drying potatoes and ate a lot of them. The ponies got farty and my dad still gets teased about it.

                                                          1. re: foreverhungry

                                                            FTR-I understand (being in healthcare for 20+ years) that no one will get sick if you heat to a certain degree. I would not squirrel the bones away after a company dinner. No way. Chicken parts are too cheap.

                                                            1. re: foreverhungry

                                                              Yeah unless the sucked on bones are left out for an extremely long time this is not an issue. Especially considering how regularly we swap spit with others...

                                                        2. There is hardly a sanitation / health hazard issue. It's really just a matter of perception. I perceive it to be gross to slide a slippery chicken carcass from a soiled plate into a stock pot.
                                                          If serving half-chickens, cook em whole, carve them off the rib cage, serve the half with thigh, leg and wing intact. The ribcage with the cavity herbs / citrus will flavor the stock a-plenty.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: sagerussell

                                                            You do have a point—theoretically the chicken was sauced and shared space on the plate with some side dishes (Cartman moment: "Am I to understand there will be no side dishes tonight?"). You could rinse them off, but then you'd be rinsing off the chicken flavour as well as the assorted goop.

                                                            No, just not worth it to me. Carve the chicken in the kitchen and serve it all fancy and fanned-out on the plate. Has two benefits: you get to keep the carcass, and you get to learn how to carve a bird properly. :)

                                                          2. I absolutley do put "used" chicken bones in the stock pot. They're boiled for long enough to kill the germs. Anyone who is grossed out doesn't have to eat soup at my house.

                                                            1. Thanks to all for your replies. I don't think it's really about a health or food safety issue either. I guess I was worried about the "skeeve" factor.

                                                              I use roasted chicken or turkey carcasses for stock all the time. For me it's not so much a question of being frugal or cheap, but I hate to be wasteful of things that can/should be turned into something useful or edible. Two day old baguettes? Croutons! Three day old rice? Fried Rice!

                                                              My argument against the skeeve factor is this: Which would you sooner put in your mouth, a drumstick that your friend's wife took a bite out of, or a raw chicken neck? Why should it be any different when considering what to put in the stock pot?

                                                              Anyway, I do appreciate your thoughts. It looks like my opinion is in the minority. :-)

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: egit

                                                                I used to do this too asking friends and family to save bones using those and roast chicken carcasses to make chicken stock. But I ended up always needing more stock and feeling my hands tied from only using roast chicken carcasses! What I do now instead is one day every week (usually the day I go to the farmers market) I make stock using carcasses from my butcher who sells locally raised organic chickens. I often have extra that I freeze. Buying the carcasses alone costs next to nothing and always having a supply of fresh stock on hand is a godsend. I also cannot recommend enough using a pressure cooker for stock making which reduces the cooking time to 1 hour.

                                                                1. re: egit

                                                                  Dear Egit,

                                                                  I would do this for myself (if I made chicken stock--these days that gives me the skeeve factor, actually), but I would not serve it to others. I would not want to offer something people might be grossed out by if they knew where it had come from.

                                                                  I would consider re-roasting the bones, though. I think it would give a nice color to the finished stock, a nice taste, and might have a sterilizing effect. A nice roasted onion in there, some carrots, garlic cloves, parsley, a little soy sauce or miso and hey---but I know we're in the minority here!

                                                                2. Will you be adding the uneaten veggies left on the plate to the stock as well? Use the half eaten rolls for breadcrumbs? Reform the butterpats to use next time? Definitely don't let those half filled (or half empty) water and wine glasses go to waste, great additions to the stock.
                                                                  Grossed out yet?

                                                                  Personally I never make stock from cooked bone, I use fresh chicken. And I would never remove something from a person's plate to serve again to another in any form. I do not have children and also do not believe in the 3 second rule.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Quine

                                                                    I'm with you Quine, I think I only used a poultry carcass once--a turkey--as the basis for a soup. I really found the flavor to be flat and very dishwatery. I buy whole chickens or breast and cut off the part/s I'm going to use and save the rest in the freezer for stock. Now that gets cooked with ends of raw carrots, celery and onions that I've also stashed in the freezer when trimming them for other purposes.

                                                                    1. re: escondido123

                                                                      I cook "from scratch" alot, so I have a good supply of fresh previously unused tidbits that make a great stock.
                                                                      Now I do use a good smoked ham bone for things like bean/pea soup. While I do roast my beef bones before making stock, other than that they are also previously unused.

                                                                    2. re: Quine

                                                                      Definitely the half eaten rolls for breadcrumbs! Or bread soup, bread pudding, or a free form sandwich...:)

                                                                    3. Actually this is something I would do, except I would probably serve the soup to my family. I pressure cook my stock. If there is bacteria to begin with, I guarantee there won't be at the end, even though I do use low pressure. I wouldn't worry about this. You are being thrifty!

                                                                      1. Roast the half chicken but remove the backbone and ribs first and make your stock on that. Once a piece of poultry is on someone's plate the bones go in the trash, not the stockpot. Think Thanksgiving, there's no way the drumstick (legbone) is going in the stockpot once someone has been gnawing on it.

                                                                        1. As safety goes, your only real potential issue is staph toxin. Staph bacteria would be easy to transmit from your guests mouths to the bones in question. Staph bacteria can create a toxin that is heat-stable. Other bacteria and toxins would be effectively killed or denatured by the prolonged heat of the stock making process. However, your bones would need to sit out for a while before staph could build up enough to secrete their toxin. Even though it's unlikely to cause you problems, for safety sake don't leave the bones sitting out overnight before collecting them and making stock. In a way, this necessitates the socially awkward practice of collecting bones for stock soon after your guests are done gnawing on them.

                                                                          As for etiquette and 'ick' factor... you're on your own. I will say that although there are ways to do this safely, I still probably wouldn't personally. I regularly break down a chicken once I get it - remove the breasts, thighs and legs (sometimes I bone out these); cook these however; and use the carcass (minus extra fat and skin) and wings to make a pressure cooker stock while I attend to the rest of the dinner. You'll get a better stock, often in time to make a sauce for dinner, without terrifying your guests.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                            While I agree that staph toxin is an issue, staph normally grow on skin and not in peoples mouths, that's strep, they have toxins too but not heat stable. So since you find it on human skin, you'd get just as much contamination by pulling the meat off the chicken with your hands so having someone eat the meat is not really an issue unless it extends the amount of time that the chicken is at room temperature---you probably don't want anything to sit out for more than about 2 hours. Etiquette-wise, I would think it odd if I found you ziplocking the bones from me meal and might reconsider future events, it's not like I want to kiss everyone who's been at your house.

                                                                            1. re: Sally599

                                                                              Good point about it often being on people's hands. Many people often swab positive for staph aureus in a nasal culture as well. The take home point was that the staph would most likely come from you or your guests (so it doesn't matter how well done you cook your chicken), and if you wanted to avoid a dangerous situation, you wouldn't let the bones sit around at room temperature for hours after being handled (or gnawed or whatever).

                                                                          2. I don't think I would advertise it but using the meat and bones are fine. All life pretty much stops at 170 degrees F. Your stock is certainly going to be at or above 180 degrees for quite a while.

                                                                            After reading the responses... it is definitely not a good idea to advertise that you used those gnawed on bones.

                                                                            Regarding whether restaurants do it.. I would say not because you couldn't keep that a secret and you can already see the responses to the idea. Nobody would ever go to that restaurant.

                                                                            1. And by gnaw, I never meant that people would be chewing the bones like a dog! I say +1 on the skeeve factor.
                                                                              If you do serve it to me, I'm sure I wont get sick and I'm sure it would be delicious; just don't tell me how it was made ;-)

                                                                              1. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY (strongly stated on purpose) that anything that is served to guests is used in a dish for future guests, me included.

                                                                                If I knew that the dish sitting in front of me was served to someone else, plates cleared and then the leftovers were re-cycled, I would all of a sudden get very unhungry.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                  +10. I also tk that in general, cooking for guests included, if we're concerned about admitting something to others then we probably shouldn't do it. And certainly if we're going to do it we should be ready to admit it (especially if it would impact the person were they to know).

                                                                                2. Truth be told, I don't know if I've ever done this or not. I'm going to say *probably* not. Meaning, I probably have not served a dish made with home-made chicken stock to guests made from bones that were gnawed upon by me or others. But the thought crossed my mind a few days ago, and was wondering what a group of self-identified home cooks do. If I ever have, it would have been the kind of thing where the stock would have been used in a sauce, gravy, or pilaf of some sort.

                                                                                  I don't think I've *ever* taken something that has been on my plate or a guests plate and recycled it into something else. Home-use leftovers... maybe. If I've over-served myself of a particular thing and I can't finish it, I have no qualms about saving/reheating it for myself another time.

                                                                                  If the bread hasn't left the basket, I see nothing wrong with making croutons or bread crumbs out of it. Same thing with sauces, rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.

                                                                                  I've met a few leftover-phobes in my day who are grossed out by the mere thought of reusing something from one meal into another-- yes, even when the item in question never left the pot, let alone went anywhere near someone's plate.

                                                                                  As far as the staph toxins... all I can say is we live in a dangerous world. Sometimes we're brave enough to cross the street. ;-)

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: egit

                                                                                    Glad to know your OP was rhetorical only. Your dinner invites will no longer be marked "Return to sender". It is true that the more your know, the better detailed your nightmares can become. ;)

                                                                                    1. re: egit

                                                                                      If I make a meal of spaghetti and meatballs, and my girlfriend has a meatball left over on her plate, I'm most certainly putting that ball back in the fridge. That is something that has been on someone else's plate, but is "recycled" into another meal. No qualms.

                                                                                      Other than the staff issue, which, as one poster mentioned, is primarily found on skin, and so is more likely to spread by a guest with staph touching the doorknob than eating chicken, there is not one legitimate fact based reason why chicken stock made from leftover chicken bones, is a bad idea.

                                                                                      It's completely based on the "skeeve" (sp?) factor. Which is the exact same perception issue when a someone says they would never even try rabbit or pheasant, but happily eat chicken or beef. It's the same when someone makes a face at eating a quail egg, when they have an omelet on their plate in front of them.

                                                                                    2. So I guess you guys don't have a butter dish at your house. One that sits on the table that people use their knives in. For that matter you probably have a bread basket with tongs that everyone uses to select their individually sliced bread or rolls. And if somebody accidentally serves themselves seconds with their own cutlery instead of the serving cutlery you throw that entire dish away. And of course fondue is out of the question.

                                                                                      Ever been to a birthday party? The guest of honor literally spits all over the cake just prior to slicing and serving.

                                                                                      I have no problem if the concept of re-using some bones makes people feel icky. But let's not pretend we live in a sterile world in which the idea of taking something, heating it near boiling for hours, then probably freezing it, and most likely boiling it again to reduce it is the grossest thing we do.

                                                                                      19 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: MRich

                                                                                        If someone licked the butter knife and repeatedly cut himself more, that butter would go in the trash. I hate double dipping so don't serve fondue unless it's bite sized. I also don't lick my guests food before serving it and if I taste the food, I don't reuse the spoon. I don't use my hosts' toothbrushes, though I've heard that's more common than you'd think.

                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                          I don't believe I have ever been to a meal at a restaurant at which I haven't traded bites with my dining mates.

                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                            "I hate double dipping so don't serve fondue unless it's bite sized." Check out the Mythbusters piece on double dipping. They found tons more bacteria from the environment on the untouched sample of dip than they found after double dipping. Meaning, there's tons more bacteria out there, on your food, cutlery, and hands, than can be transmitted by double dipping. Again, it's all perception based.

                                                                                            1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                              Sure it's all perception based. I don't want the waiter to lick my food but I probably wouldn't get sick from it.

                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                We're talking about eating the flesh of an animal. And then boiling its bones and cartilage to extract flavor and gelatin. And you're skeeved out that your friend, who you probably kissed on their way into your home, may have touched it, perhaps even with their lip before it gets sterilized?

                                                                                                Yes, there are perceptions going on.

                                                                                          2. re: MRich

                                                                                            There are some of us in the world who would answer these questions:

                                                                                            -So I guess you guys don't have a butter dish at your house. One that sits on the table that people use their knives in...Nope
                                                                                            - For that matter you probably have a bread basket with tongs that everyone uses to select their individually sliced bread or rolls...We serve rolls, not pass
                                                                                            - And if somebody accidentally serves themselves seconds with their own cutlery instead of the serving cutlery you throw that entire dish away...people ask for seconds and there are separate utensils at the main distributionpoint
                                                                                            - And of course fondue is out of the question...Totally
                                                                                            - Ever been to a birthday party? The guest of honor literally spits all over the cake just prior to slicing and serving...I do not eat the exterior frosting

                                                                                            Yes...there are people who are at the ends of the bell curve. :-))

                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                              I respect (but somewhat pity) that.

                                                                                              If we meet I look forward to a hearty head nod in lieu of a handshake.

                                                                                              1. re: MRich

                                                                                                No pity requested not desired, but appreciate it.

                                                                                                And the Japanese do have something on us with the nod versus the handshake, all for that one.

                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                  I got a chuckle from that exchange. Ends of the bell curve, indeed! I think that's more than a few deviations out!

                                                                                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                    Please add "standard" before deviations. It is a special place that does require some standards. :-))

                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                      The highest of standards. It's at the edges of the bell shaped curve that the interesting stories lie....

                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                        "It's at the edges of the bell shaped curve that the interesting stories lie...."

                                                                                                        I love that.

                                                                                                        I am definitely going to use that in meetings. Much better than the one i used this week..."if you overconstrain a linear program, noone wins."


                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                          overconstrain a linear program...I like that.

                                                                                              2. re: jfood

                                                                                                None of these apply for us either, because we plate up our food, we don't serve out of communal dishes. We don't pass anything and larger dishes of items have a serving spoon left in them that you'd have to move to use your own utensil from your plate to get more instead.

                                                                                                I don't think I've eaten a piece of birthday cake at a party since I was a kid. They're all disgusting, cheap, grocery store cakes and not worth bothering putting in my mouth, they're awful.

                                                                                                I haven't had anything fondue since I was a child in the 70s. Not appealing.

                                                                                              3. re: MRich

                                                                                                To the birthday cake comment...I am always waaaaaay to full to have cake (that someone has expired forcefully on (especially a spitting child)).
                                                                                                Funny how it always happens that way!

                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                  If you live out the week after eating kidspit, you're sure to have five extra years at the end of your life. May I have another piece please?

                                                                                                  1. re: Greenbud

                                                                                                    Ha! I think it's other folks' kids. When they're yours, germs for everyone. Then again, I let my dogs lick plates (which always get cleaned in the dishwasher vs. hand cleaning, but still, it grosses some out).

                                                                                                2. re: MRich

                                                                                                  RE: " So I guess you guys don't have a butter dish at your house. One that sits on the table that people use their knives in. For that matter you probably have a bread basket with tongs that everyone uses to select their individually sliced bread or rolls. And if somebody accidentally serves themselves seconds with their own cutlery instead of the serving cutlery you throw that entire dish away. And of course fondue is out of the question."

                                                                                                  Don't tk it's all or nothing. There's often a 'reasonable' range w/i a continuum and it's unfair to present the other person's perspective as one extreme and to shoot it down as such. Taken to the extreme, any 'reasonable' perspective can appear unreasonable.

                                                                                                  1. re: MRich

                                                                                                    I serve butter with its own butter knife to avoid such behavior. If I had a guest who put a knife from mouth to butter, it would be for the last time at my table.

                                                                                                  2. Oooh! Those bones have touched the insides of a chicken.

                                                                                                    You can let yourself get grossed out by anything if you think about it long enough which is one of the reasons my mother seldom ate out or even ate another persons cooking... because you never know what they did.

                                                                                                    I think the O.P was rhetorical and most of us answered in that vain.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                      Good point...i'd rather have bones that touched the inside of someone's mouth rather than the insides of a chicken! Haha

                                                                                                    2. Life is too short.

                                                                                                      Contagious diseases are the leading cause of death in low-income countries where they do things like this. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsh... Moreover, bacteria have been known to live in sulfur geysers with temperatures up to 750 Farenheit and 400 times atmospheric pressure. http://www.livescience.com/133-wild-e... Compare that to your pressure cooker at 250 Farenheit and 15 PSI. No contest: the germs win.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: sushigirlie

                                                                                                        Oh well, better throw out the silverware too then.

                                                                                                        1. re: sushigirlie

                                                                                                          And chicken is too cheap to use bones from people's plates and mouths.

                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                            That is a great point and I think the main argument against.

                                                                                                            However, as cheap as the chicken is to us, it's not so cheap to the chicken.

                                                                                                            Water is cheap too, but I insist that we don't let it run around my household.

                                                                                                            1. re: MRich

                                                                                                              Have you ever been around chickens? I grew up around them. If you saw how ill mannered they are you'd probably want to kill more of them.

                                                                                                          2. re: sushigirlie

                                                                                                            "Moreover, bacteria have been known to live in sulfur geysers with temperatures up to 750 Farenheit and 400 times atmospheric pressure."
                                                                                                            Those bacteria are very different from food pathogens.

                                                                                                          3. Nigella Lawson encourages people to scavenge bones to make stock, which is good enough for me. I personally wouldn't care if I ate stock made this way, a gentle simmer is enough to kill anything harmful that may be on the bones. I wouldn't imagine restaurants being able to do this - but what I don't know can't hurt me, right?

                                                                                                            1. Ahhh nooooes. I use the gnawed-on bones when the two of us have take-out wings (which I guess could add another layer of skeeve), toss them into the crockpot after a rinse under hot water, and make (tasty, seasoned) stock. But I only use that in dishes for my husband and myself (stock is distinguished by being frozen with label "Chix Wing Broth/date"), not for guesties.

                                                                                                              Then I let my five cats lick the crockpot clean before putting away.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                That was a great "...wait for it..."

                                                                                                              2. I do this at home, if all the leftovers are from family members and close friends. (Over the past two decades, I figure we've shared so many cooties it can't possibly matter any more.) I also add in the extra step of oven "toasting" the bones and gristly bits before they go in the pot, so that could also add some extra sterilization. I'm more worried about how long the carcass remains on the plate/cutting board before it goes in the freezer or the oven--I fear there is greater chance for contamination if I linger over after-dinner drinks!

                                                                                                                31 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: POAndrea

                                                                                                                  But look at the Cost point! Cost it out...how much do those previously used bones, you cooked, cooked again (oven-toasted) and cooked again stock to be cooked again to a recipe?????

                                                                                                                  Time over dessert, after dinner drinks with friends, priceless. Cost of those bones in final recipe. two green stamps.

                                                                                                                  So many times I see "home cooks" spend $ to save less than a cent worth of food. Not to mention the wasted use of nonrenewable energy sources ( how many times times did you really cook those bones?), their time (un-costed, but if they factored in their salary per hour rate) as well as costing out time that making this "great use of an item" also factors.... takes away from their recreational and/or family time (priceless?) I am such a Duh? are you kidding me?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                    It really doesn't take a lot of work. I keep a bag in my freezer (which is right next to the garbage) for bones worth saving for random bone stock. It's easy because I throw the bones in as I'm cleaning the scraps off the plate. Beef, pork, chicken, whatever bone's worth saving goes into the bag. When it's full I make stock. I don't see how you can say I'm spending money to save money. I'm not spending any money other than the $ for gas - say 2 bucks. I would have spent that money anyway if I wanted to make stock. For me it's not a matter of savings, it's just that I love making stock, but I hate paying money to buy bones. When I have to pay for bones/meat for stock I am far less likely to do so (if I have chicken parts to boil, I'd much rather just eat it straight up), and I like keeping stock around.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                      But I don't do it to save money. I make stock because I prefer my recipe to College Inn's or Sweet Sue's.

                                                                                                                      1. re: POAndrea

                                                                                                                        Those are broths and not stock, I never use those either. But I have been known to go a Swansons a time or two,

                                                                                                                        I just get a bit miffed when some folks end up spending mega $ and energy amounts to use up a few pennies of a leftover.

                                                                                                                        I personally do not like the flavor or quality of stock made from cooked/leftover chicken bones. I make mine from scratch using fresh product and will freeze and use raw bones that I gather from chicken. As I almost never buy overly butchered chicken, i.e skinned boneless breasts or thighs, but do this at home, I often have plenty.

                                                                                                                        I once made stock from leftover turkey carcass from T-Day and thought dishwater was better.

                                                                                                                        It's a personal choice. I'd rather cook things once then cook them twice (or more). Since I know I am wanting to use the bones for stock, I remove them raw, cook and serve the chicken, and cook the stock. To me it's a why cook them in the chicken then cook them again in a stock?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                          Because they're not done cooking out. Using already cooked bones for stock is pretty similar to roasting them before making stock in terms of having "cooked bones." And obviously, some people prefer to roast before cooking so no, it's not like the bones will be spent because the chicken roasted for 45 minutes.

                                                                                                                          You mentioned wasting time and resources - In terms of time wasted it's far more wasteful to bone out a whole chicken just to save the bones when you can just eat the chicken and have the bones come naturally. Maybe my skills are lacking but IMO it's a royal pain in the ass trying to bone out thighs and drumsticks. Leave the bone in and you have a clean bone when you're done eating!

                                                                                                                          Here's another example. When I make beef stock I use the bones twice. I'm talking over 24 hours of simmering between the first and second boils. First I roast and make a slow simmered dark stock, then after that I boil the whole thing again for a creamy white stock. Both are great in their own way.

                                                                                                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                            It;'s really really easy for me to bone out a chicken that I don't even think about it. And I just made a really dense stock for feeding a ill pet and boned out a bunch of thighs, made the stock and froze the meat.
                                                                                                                            I roast beef bones only, but I seldom make beef stock. I like chicken and pork stocks.
                                                                                                                            The bestest stock I ever made was fresh ham hocks in a slow cooker for 12 hours untouched, so clear rich dense, gelled right up solid when chilled (the gelability and lip smack to me are signs of great stock)
                                                                                                                            I love your posts as , even when we disagree (like sorta a bit now) I learn so much from you and you do make me see things different. Since we both live in NJ I hope someday we can share a for real meal together.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                              Well said Quine, the feeling is mutual. :) And maybe you can show me how to bone out those damned thighs...if i could do it in a reasonable time, I would prefer to bone out the whole chicken and not sift through chewed through bones... despite the contention I think the different views here are what I love most about the CH community.

                                                                                                                              And Kudos to your grandfather. My mother always told me stories about how scarce protein was growing up in Korea in the 40s and 50s, and I guess she sort of passed on her respect for flesh to me. Some times even I'm appalled at how little she throws away...she doesn't even throw out inedible food, but leaves it outside so the animals can eat them. :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                Here is a Jacques Pepin video for you. He is boning out a whole chicken. I've done this to both chickens and small turkeys a few times and then stuffed them with bread dressing, rolled and tied with string. It's not as difficult as it may seem.


                                                                                                                            2. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                              Joonjoon, I'm not one who is appalled at the thought of making stock in this manner. But I still disagree with you on a few points.

                                                                                                                              'Using already cooked bones for stock is pretty similar to roasting them before making stock in terms of having "cooked bones."'
                                                                                                                              Not really. For one, you lose more gelatin to the meat and juices when you cook the bones in the chicken than when you roast them dry. For another, and more importantly, the payoff for roasting bones dry before stock making is the browning and deeper, more complex flavors introduced. There isn't much of that going on with bones from a whole cooked bird. You're just losing some of the flavor and gelatin from the bones with the cooking process (which, to be fair, does enhance the chicken in a small way).

                                                                                                                              "In terms of time wasted it's far more wasteful to bone out a whole chicken just to save the bones when you can just eat the chicken and have the bones come naturally."
                                                                                                                              That's not exactly what I'd consider wasteful. It takes me maybe 5 minutes to fully bone out a chicken. I doubt I'm special in this. No offense, but practice it - you'll get better.

                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                I will definitely give boning chicken some more practice. I guess I tried boning a thigh once and had such a hard time I decided it's not worth trying again.

                                                                                                                                As far as the roasted bone analogy, the point wasn't that it would be as good as/better than fresh roasted bone stock, but rather that cooking the chicken is unlikely to leech so much out of it that it makes for bad stock. I'm not a food scientist but if I had to put my money on it i would say an exposed, roasted bone is more likely to lose gelatin and flavor than one that is completely surrounded by chicken flesh. Either way, the "sucked-on chicken bone stock" I've made have come out pretty tasty. :)

                                                                                                                                1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                  "I'm not a food scientist but if I had to put my money on it i would say an exposed, roasted bone is more likely to lose gelatin and flavor than one that is completely surrounded by chicken flesh"
                                                                                                                                  I'm not a food scientist either, so I can't say for sure. But my hunch would be that gelatin needs a medium to dissipate into, and the adjacent meat and juice in a roasting chicken would make a far better medium than the air of an oven.

                                                                                                                                  Likewise, roasting dry actually creates flavor compounds via the maillard reaction.

                                                                                                                                  I'm not saying that stock from cooked-in-chicken bones will be useless. Just that I find stocks made from either raw bones or dry roasted bones preferable for what they are. I do respect you trying not to let animal products go to waste.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Quine

                                                                                                                          I agree with POAndrea. I don't necessarily make stock to save money. I do it because I both enjoy it and I like having some on hand in the freezer whenever I want or need it. I think the criticism of doing so based on "nonrenewable energy sources" is highly specious to say the least. Let's not even begin to compare the tiny amount of energy it costs to make stock from bones I already have to the cost of the factory making stock, packaging it, shipping it, etc, etc.

                                                                                                                          The way I see it, regarding the cross contamination discussion raging above... chicken is considered "cooked" at 165F. A simmer will be at ~200, for an hour or two at the very least. Typically whatever bones I'd use to make a stock will go from the carving board to the freezer fairly quickly. Botulism?! Seriously? I understand there are some cases where people have highly compromised immune systems, and need extra special care. But for most people standard precautions are perfectly adequate.

                                                                                                                          1. re: egit

                                                                                                                            Yeah, some of the haters are really grasping at straws here, with the mention of botulism and all that. People, from a germ standpoint is it really any different from reusing your guests silverware?

                                                                                                                              1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                So, you'd be fine eating at a restaurant where your dinner was made from leftover dinners from the night before, scraped off others' plates?

                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                  @wincountrygirl: Last I checked, boiling something is far more sanitary than washing.


                                                                                                                                  If the leftovers were rinsed, frozen immediately and then boiled for hours and somehow tasty stock came out of it, then sure.

                                                                                                                                  For example if a steakhouse took leftover steakbones and made a beef soup out of it, and it was delicious, I would have no problem ordering it.

                                                                                                                                  I actually in general don't have problems eating other people's leftovers. The way I see it, especially with meat products is that a living being died to give me its flesh and bones. I feel I have a responsibility not to let that go to waste. I find it appalling when people leave large chunks of delicious protein unconsumed, only to go into trash. I would much rather overuse than overwaste. Let me put it another way. I would rather eat other people's leftover chicken than have to kill another one when it doesn't need to die. Same reason I would rather reuse bones rather than kill another chicken just for making stock.

                                                                                                                                  For the same reason, when making beef stock I prefer to generally buy marrow bones and roast & eat the marrow first, and then use the bones for stock. Every time I make stock with the marrow intact and see the chunks of goodness that swim around in the stock that inevitably gets strained out, it makes me a little sad. When I make stock using bones with meat on them, I take the time to pick off the meat before it gets overboiled and save it for the final product, and then continue simmering the bones. I feel bad throwing the flesh of another animal in the trash. For the same reason I skim the fat off of every stock I make and save it in a jar for future use. I try not to waste any part of the animal I buy.

                                                                                                                                  (sorry for the long rant)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                    I so agree that if something is going to die, make the best most out of it. My grandfather taught me that. He hunt or fished each day of his life to his food, and If he didn't get anything, boiled potatoes and mushrooms for dinner. (He was Polish)
                                                                                                                                    And he never wasted anything.

                                                                                                                                    Definitely a +1 on this post, which I did not see as a rant but rather good solid personal commitment to food and life.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                      Thanks--nice response. I wasn't trying to be snarky with my question, btw, so apologize if it came off that way. I was wondering if you drew the line anywhere. You actually sound a lot like my mom, no waste, ever (she took out paper towels out of the trashcan I'd used to dry chicken and reused them).

                                                                                                                                      As I said above, I think it's perfectly safe to do so, and it's a personal squeamishness. Generally, if I want to roast chicken and use the carcass, I'll remove the meat first. It's far easier to have it in a big pile than to try to collect it off others' plates.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                        Chowser, my mom does stuff like that too and it drove me nuts! She's gotten a lot better but she used to dry and reuse her paper towels...sounds like our moms were cut from pretty similar cloth. :) Oh god now I'm afraid I'm going to turn into her! Hahah.

                                                                                                                                        For the record I end up consuming most of the stock I make, and would be very hesitant to serve "junk stock" to anyone but family and close friends who don't mind (and know of my silly kitchen antics). They know exactly what's up because when dinner's up I ask them not to chuck the bones.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                        "@wincountrygirl: Last I checked, boiling something is far more sanitary than washing."

                                                                                                                                        Not so; with washing, you literally move or scrub off bacteria, and soap/surfactant is merely used to help detach it.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                          Not so. In general, boiling is more sanitary. (and by sanitary, we mean killing bacteria and viruses). If we're talking about an item like a cutting board that has been scored by knives, you can hand wash it all you want with all the soap you want, but that will never be as effective as a good boil. Anything that has ridges, grooves, etc. can harbor those scary bacteria, and soap and sponge aren't as effective in removing them.

                                                                                                                                          That said, I don't live in a chicken coop where salmonella is all around me. Stuff in my house might go through the dish washer, or it might get hand washed. Thing is, it then sits on a shelf or in a drawer for a while, allowing those creepy scary bacteria everyone is paranoid of to land on them. Yikers!

                                                                                                                                          Mythbusters did an interesting piece a while back where they tested the myth of double-dipping. They found that the amount of bacteria already present in a dip far outweighed the amount of bacteria introduced to the dip by double-dipping. In other words, there are bacteria all around us, constantly landing on our food and utensils. While there is the obvious caveat that those airborne bacteria are likely different than the ones living in our mouths, our mouths aren't staph/botulinin/E. coli/salmonella factories.

                                                                                                                                          So what's the big deal?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                            It only takes one person's strep, mono, walking pneumonia, TB, or influenza germs to sicken a whole dinner party via double dipping or coughing/spitting/sneezing on your food! Mouths are dirty. That's a fact. Some of us have cleaner mouths than others, but there's no real way of knowing all your dinner guests have clean mouths. Oh, and herpes simplex can be transmitted in a multitude of ways aside from sexual contact. Of course, we run this same risk when eating out or letting someone make our latte at Starbucks. Just saying though.

                                                                                                                                            Anyway, agree with the boiling vs. washing. Boiling is always safer in terms of killing bacteria. Dishwashers aren't even considered all that effective in ridding dishes and silverware of bacteria. But like foreverhungry said, bacteria are everywhere just waiting to pounce on us. Oh my!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                              Yes, of course it takes only one person's disease to sicken an entire dinner party. And, of course, there are steps to take to lessen that from happening. But, as you say, it can happen anytime, anywhere. While we can take reasonable steps to minimize chances of us getting sick, or of infecting someone else, we also can't live in paralyzing fear of bacteria. Some folks, such as those with compromised immune systems, need to. And, of course, if I have a cold/flu/whatever, and I'm preparing food, I take extra precautions. Just like I expect dinner guests to take extra precautions if they are sick and come over to eat. It's just common sense - it doesn't need to be a level 4 biohazzard situation.

                                                                                                                                              In the immediate case of the chicken bones and stock, whatever might get transferred to the bones is going to be killed in the stock making process - so again, that's not an issue. To be honest, I would be much more concerned about a guest passing an illness when he/she touches the couch, doorknob, coffee table, or anything else that isn't getting a 212F treatment. Chicken bones, while some might be grossed out about it, are a complete non-issue here. Touching a contaminated surface is the real risk.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                              If you're dealing with heat resistant pathogens, mechanical cleansing might be an improvement.

                                                                                                                                              For me, the ICK factor is hyooge, frankly.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                Exactly--the ick factor. I saw a guy share his ice cream cone w/ his dog. It's probably pretty safe but ewww.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                  I think that's one of the really interesting things about this thread, is reading about the ick factor. Me, I have a really tolerance for the ick factor. Share ice cream with my dog? Yup, done it. Eat raw conch straight out of the shell? Yup. You name it, I've probably done it. But I can see that a lot of people have a really low tolerance for the ick factor, and that's how this thread is largely dividing. Very interesting stuff.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                    As I've said before, we all have an ick factor line. You share an ice cream w/ your dog. Would you eat him? I have no problems w/ raw conch. Other than ethical issues, I eat almost anything out of the ocean (no shark fin soup, abalone, chilean sea bass, etc.). I would probably not try seahorse, for no good reason, other than I like them. Land animals are a different matter. I have a friend who draws the line at animals she finds cute (don't ask, I haven't). But, sharing a dip w/ my BIL who I don't care for and who double dips bothers me. Sharing a dip w/ people I like, fine. I fully admit to there being no logic.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                      I totally get it. I'll eat anything from the ocean also - other than the ones you mentioned, and I'll add sea turtle eggs to that list (unless they are collected by permit). I have the same high tolerance for land animals - if it's not threatened or endangered, I'll eat it. I have one hard and fast exception to that rule: dogs. On double dipping - yeah, I can see that. If it's my girlfriend, her sister, or her sister's boyfriend that double dips, I don't care. A complete stranger? Yeah, I might care. Someone I don't like? Y, I might care.

                                                                                                                                                      But I think what's interesting is to ask, "why do I set these rules", think about them logically, and then see if you redefine things. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But at minimum, I think it's a useful exercise.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                        Speaking of dogs.....

                                                                                                                                                        While we're discussing ick factor, what would you say if you knew someone's Doberman licked any plates or roasting pans that had bits of deliciousness left on them as they hit the dishwasher? His talented nose means he has zero interest in the clean dishes as they are being unloaded. Just hypothetically you understand.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                          So if someone's dog licked plates before they hit the dishwasher? No problem.

                                                                                                                                                          Licked plates that still had food on them because the dishwasher didn't do a good job, but the dog left clean plates alone? Yeah, not a big deal, though I'd question how clean the clean plates are, not because of the dog, but because of the dishwasher.

                                                                                                                                                          I've let my dog lick my ice cream cone. Then again, it is my dog....

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                      I'd eat conch out of a shell, but not off of the plate of someone I don't already swap germs with. Some reactions are idiosyncratic and visceral.

                                                                                                                                2. I don't care what pathogens are killed in the stock making process. I don't wish to eat food that has been in someone else's mouth. Chicken bones are cheap. The home cook doesn't need to be cheap too.

                                                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: sparky403

                                                                                                                                    The backbone makes good stock - ever since I realized this I have not roasted a single chicken whole - it gets saved for the stock bag along with wing tips.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                      At most better restaurants, chefs regularly taste the food as it's being plated. Do you think they use a sterilized spoon every time? As you are tasting a pot of soup or sauce, do you use a cleaned spoon every time, out of the dishwasher?

                                                                                                                                      If you do, OK then. Most folks I know don't. I don't. My mom doesn't. A couple professional chefs I know don't.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                        Yes, I do. If. Chef uses a finger orcputs a spoon in their mouth and then back in the pot. should be booted just as Hubert Keller did in the first episode of Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                        I do use a clean spoon every time i taste. It is the only ethical, thoughtful, considerate and professional way to taste. I take the clean spoon out of the drawer. I'm not in the habit of leaving clean flatware in the dishwasher.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                          i've seen morimoto taste with a finger on iron chef...wouldn't bother me...but i know some sketchy line cooks with questionable hygiene...in whose case it might...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: princeofthieves

                                                                                                                                            I suppose Morimoto can do as he wishes in his own kitchen. I think it's a bad habit that should be broken. In the first episode of Top Chef, Hubert Keller removed one of the contestants from his kitchen for sticking his finger in a sauce. I don't k ow why anyone think it's ok to taste with a finger or a spoon that's been in someone's mouth.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                              Ask Mike Isabella; he does it repeatedly. I wish Keller would get his hands on him.
                                                                                                                                              Talk about questionable hygiene, that's probably Mike's booger flicking finger.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                I had not really noticed Isabella doing that. There are enough restaurants in D.C. so avoiding his won't be difficult.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                  He did it in the final. Finger to bowl, mouth, bowl, twice in succession. And in previous shows, too. Total grossout for moi.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                            I suspect there is a huge number of chefs and cooks that double dip with their spoons or their fingers. I'm sure they try not to do it when outsiders are watching or cameras are rolling.

                                                                                                                                            You see it just too often on these competitive shows where they forget due to the pressures of time and competition. Those same chefs are doing it routinely in their kitchens.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                              We watch Iron Chef (Japan) re-runs on Cooking Channel most evenings and they use the same spoon to taste their dishes and then keep mixing with it. Somehow I don't think that would fly over here.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: tracylee

                                                                                                                                                Because they know it doesn't matter. Meaning, unless someone is sick with a contagious illness, double dipping spoons doesn't matter. There's far more bacteria on a plate, on silverware, on a wine glass, on raw ingredients or ingredients that aren't cooked to high temperature, etc. than are transferred by double dipping spoons or fingers.

                                                                                                                                                There's the skeeve factor, then there's reality. Just like to some people, suchi is skeevy, which to others, there's no issue with raw fish. Under most circumstances, ditto the double dipped spoon. My girlfriend does it when cooking, and I don't mind. My mom does it while cooking, and I don't mind. If Morimoto did it while cooking, I certainly wouldn't mind. But as this thread has shown, different people have different skeeve points. That's all that this is about.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                  "unless someone is sick with a contagious illness, double dipping spoons doesn't matter. There's far more bacteria on a plate, on silverware, on a wine glass, on raw ingredients or ingredients that aren't cooked to high temperature, etc. than are transferred by double dipping spoons or fingers."

                                                                                                                                                  That's not accurate. Even a healthy person's mouth is a reservoir for millions of germs, some of which can most definitely cause food poisoning given the right conditions (again, staph aureus comes to mind).

                                                                                                                                                  If the spoon is being double dipped into a simmering sauce, most pathogens would be killed nearly instantly and the food would still be safe. And if the spoon is being double dipped into something, hot or cold, that is to be eaten immediately, there will not be enough time for bacteria to multiply or secrete toxins, though you could still get sick if the double dipper is sick (even if they have no symptoms).

                                                                                                                                                  If a person double dipped into a non-hot pan or plate and then let it sit for a while before someone consumes said food, double dipping most definitely does increase the chance of food poisoning.

                                                                                                                                                  It's not an enormously dangerous practice, but it's not completely inconsequential either.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                    Yes, you're correct. I was talking about the normal situations where one dips into something on heat, or into something that will soon be served. I agree that dipping into something that will sit for a long time can introduce pathogens. Then again, potential pathogens are all around us, and having something sitting around for a while can provide an ideal environment for bacterial growth, double dipping or not. Whether double dipped or not, I would consider a pot of stock sitting off the stove for several hours equally sketchy. I think we're saying the same thing - under some conditions, double dipping can be sketchy. Under most, it's no different than leaving a drinking glass of water in the open for a few hours and then taking a drink from it, or eating pizza off a paper plate that's been exposed to the environment. Leave an agar plate exposed for a few hours, a whole bunch of stuff sprouts. Leave a can of dip open at a party for a few hours, a whole bunch of stuff sprouts. Double dipping doesn't contribute much.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                      When I have said I don't think using chicken bones for stock after people have chewed and sucked on them is a good thing or that double dipping a spoon or using fingers to taste a sauce is wrong it has never been about a 'skeeve' factor or pathogens, it has been about simple respect for those that eat the food that I prepare.

                                                                                                                                          3. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                            I think there was a thread here once about that, or at least an off-shoot. I recall a comment about chefs who carry around a pocket full of plastic spoons for that purpose.

                                                                                                                                            I also do not reuse spoons at home, unless it is an individual serving in the microwave or something. Saliva is known to break down food, for starters.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                              Yes the chefs DO use a clean new spoon for each taste! The pass has a bunch of clean spoons for this and many chefs just use a disposable one toss and use another for the next taste.
                                                                                                                                              I live alone, so when I am cooking for myself, it's OK for me to reuse my tasting spoon. When I cook something that others will share, I ALWAYS use a clean different spoon for each taste. Never my finger either. I respect myself, my food and my guests.

                                                                                                                                            1. I've seen nothing here that convinces me that science says no to this question. Anyone who disputes that please tell my why. I'm very open to that argument if it rises above the level of risk that you would expose yourself to if you greeted your guests with a kiss on the cheek and hand washed their silverware and stemware.

                                                                                                                                              A lot of people feel the "ick" factor is an overwhelming decider. IMO that is a perfectly valid response based on personal preference but does not license the responder to express sarcasm or superiority to people who don't share this very personal feeling, especially since they seem to be on the right end of the facts.

                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: MRich

                                                                                                                                                Seems the person in the 'right' should be transparent then in their beliefs and actions, including when serving to a guest. At least that way the guest can make an informed decision as to whether or not to dine with that person when the guest is a captive audience for all practical purposes.

                                                                                                                                                I'm all for letting folks including hosts do what they want (even if I don't happen to agree) - but they should be transparent about it.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                                                                  An interesting question.

                                                                                                                                                  Of course a host has the obligation to keep their guests safe. But I don't think that's an issue here. I don't think a host is obliged to describe the ins and outs of every aspect of a meal. Some things go on under the surface.

                                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't expect a host to describe the method of slaughter of each animal they served, for example. But when confronted with that reality I'm sure many of us might decline to eat meat immediately afterwards, so maybe it's pertinent information. If a guest who was kosher were coming you would be obliged to comply with those rules or at least inform the guest of non-compliance. But if a friend only drank free-trade coffee in their own home I don't think I'm obliged to point out that the coffee I'm serving doesn't qualify.

                                                                                                                                                  I would never dream of knowingly serving something made with meat stock to a vegetarian, in fact I've been known to set up an entirely separate grill on which to make vegetarian food. But I have served non-organic food and non-cage-free eggs without cataloging each detail to my guests and not thought twice about it. And I hand wash my stemware and flatware but don't make a big deal about it to guests (unless they are helping with dishes).

                                                                                                                                                  I'm not sure the answer to this is clear, but it certainly is interesting to consider.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MRich

                                                                                                                                                    MRich, in response to your thoughtful post, I also think we need to consider the general expectations that people in that relevant category (in this case one's guests) can reasonably have. If the host plans to do something that their guest can reasonably expect NOT to happen, and that their guest would object to were they to know, then I tk the host has more of an obligation to disclose so the guest can make an informed choice. If they're not comfortable disclosing it, then they probably shouldn't do it.

                                                                                                                                                    And I think that proactively serving stock made from bones that other folks already chewed on is different from buying (and then serving to guests) standard meat that as a general practice (today, anyway) is slaughtered in the same (sub-optimal, some might say horrible) way.

                                                                                                                                                    I think most of us know that animals today are generally not slaughtered in the most humane or palatable way, and the meat resulting from that is the most commonly available. So I don't tk the host has an obligation to disclose UNLESS, for example, the guest is known to only consume meat that is slaughtered in a humane way (if that's even possible - this is a hypothetical), and the host him/herself generally only consumes and serves meat that way, so the guest can reasonably expect the host to once again follow that practice -- but the host decides in one special instance to depart from normal practice.

                                                                                                                                                    Alternatively, I agree that in your coffee hypo you aren't obliged to disclose to your 'trade-free' friend that the coffee you are serving doesn't qualify, although it might be nice to do so especially if it's super important or considered an ethical issue to your friend. Now if your friend explicitly mentioned to you how important it was to him/her not to consume non-trade-free coffee in any case for whatever reason, even were his/her reason to appear irrational, I think you might have a greater reason to disclose to the friend -- and I think that the friend has a more reasonable expectation to expect you (as a friend) to do so.

                                                                                                                                                    But this too could change over time. For example, we can imagine a time when our community/society has moved to the point where the commonly accepted practice were to serve only trade-free coffee and that became our societal norm where just about every person did it. In that case, particularly if you knew your friend felt particularly strongly about it, you might have a greater obligation to disclose since you're now going against commonly accepted and commonly expected practice.

                                                                                                                                                    Don't think it's actually so complicated in real life. If we think something we do will disturb one or more of our guests to the extent they wouldn't dine with us were they to know, and they are reasonable in expecting we won't do it, then I think we should in general disclose or simply not do it (my own preference would be for the latter). And I think from a pure hospitality perspective, we should try to create a great experience for our guests, including not knowingly doing things that we know would be disturbing to them.

                                                                                                                                                    Again, I know that 'reasonable' is a subjective term and this can open up a whole other debate but we have to make a judgment somewhere. Keep in mind that one key consideration in our legal system is the 'reasonable person' test and what a 'reasonable person' would expect. There's obviously not a clear and fast rule for this and our standard of what's reasonable to expect changes with the times, but if we're not willing to make a judgment on that then a lot of what keeps groups, families, and society going would fall apart.

                                                                                                                                                    If folks on this board felt that guests should reasonably expect to get served stock made from bones that had been eaten through or otherwise gnawed on by others, then I don't think they'd feel the need to proactively conceal that practice.

                                                                                                                                                    Okay, sorry it took so many posts to get my point across but I'm done on this topic for now!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                                                                      I like your points and writing, but your text speak (such as tk for think ) is driving me crazy!

                                                                                                                                                      Your post made me boil it all down to this: Do you lie about food? When do you and when do you think that lying is mortally and socially acceptable? What closeness to you , do you think lying about food is acceptable, would you lie to your spouse, your children, your family, friends social or business associates?
                                                                                                                                                      I think that is timeless.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                                                        lol, i thot i was done w this thrd but u r rt.

                                                                                                                                                        (point well taken - will try to avoid the text speak but will reserve the right to still use the happy faces. :-))

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                                                                          Moi aussi.

                                                                                                                                                          You are wonderfully articulate with great well expressed ideas, don'y lose sight of your value nor let others by losing a letter or two or three.
                                                                                                                                                          Emoticons are great! :-D

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                                                                    I don't think it's reasonable to go into every detail of how a dish was prepared. I'm not going to announce to guests as they are sitting down to eat that the sausage they are eating contains approximately 30% pork fat, and was produced from leftover bits of meat trimming. I'm not going to announce to guests that gravy contains pureed chicken livers and gizzards. And I'm also not going to announce that the chicken they were eating was living in cramped quarters, never moved, never saw sunlight, and lived in its own feces before being slaughtered. But hey, if someone asks, I'll tell them.

                                                                                                                                                    Is there really a need to announce every detail? If I'm eating at someone's house, I have some trust that they are making good decisions. If I accept an invitation, I'm assuming a responsibility.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                      Agree generally with you and MRich, but tk we're making different points. I was responding to the posters who thought it was okay to serve stock made from re-boiled already 'munched on' chicken bones but then appeared to want to deliberately hide it from guests (and in fact only felt comfortable doing it were they to be able to conceal it from guests). If they tk it'll bother guests (I'm excluding the extreme outlier guests who might be bothered by anything -- and yes, I know this point can be taken to an extreme too so please let's not go there) - as it clearly will to many on this board - I do tk they shldn't do it if they feel the need to hide it.

                                                                                                                                                      This is very different from saying hosts have an obligation to reveal every potentially relevant detail of everything they prepare. I wasn't suggesting anything like that and don't tk that is the logical extension of the point I was making.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                        BTW, from some comments on this board, where some posters suggest deliberately concealing the practice from guests, I'm not sure you should 'trust they are making good decisions'. Truly don't mean to be preachy here, and I know I'm probably coming off that way -- but I do admit this is a trigger point for me. I just tk people need to be fully accountable for and transparent about their actions, especially if we're talking about intentional deception.

                                                                                                                                                        And, you can 'assume responsibility' more effectively with full information, and certainly with full information on things that are deemed impt enough from the host perspective to proactively want to 'hide'.

                                                                                                                                                        Again, we're not talking about hosts proactively announcing every detail that might be of any relevance to their guests. We're talking about hosts not proactively hiding intentional practices that they think are important enough to some guests that it might cause the guests to not want to dine with them again.

                                                                                                                                                        As I mention in an earlier post, I think we need to be fair in our discussions and not take the other person's viewpoint to the extreme and then knock the extreme argument down.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                                                                          I agree with foreverhungry in that IS reasonable to expect our host to be making "good" decisions when it comes to safety and health. It may be unreasonable to expect our host to inform us of anything anyone MIGHT find questionable, however. If a dish contains something resembling peanuts or seafood, in any form, I will let everyone know justincase. But I'm don't think it's necessary to make my guests aware I left the butter out on the counter overnight so it was soft enough to make frosting this morning (though I did put it in a covered bowl so the cats couldn't lick it.) I don't plan to tattle on my husband when he started making the kim chee and forgot the tub of salted but not yet pickled cabbage on the cold front porch for over two weeks. (We've been eating on it now for over a week, and it is FABULOUS! We may do it the same way next time too.) I am not going to tell someone there are anchovies in the sauce on the off chance they don't like hairy little fish. Tuesday's ham and bean soup contained carrots from which I trimmed some pretty icky bits, but it tasted fine, and none of my 15 guests appear to be ill. I can't promise a meal will be kosher, vegan, or unobjectionable to all, but I'm pretty confident my guests can trust me not to endanger their health or welfare. And I will extend to them the same basic trust, even though I am well aware we may have some very different ideas about other things. Sometimes, I think the less we know about what goes on in other people's kitchens and bedrooms the better--as long as it doesn't make the horses sick!

                                                                                                                                                  3. I guess it has a little bit of the ick factor, but healthwise, no big deal.

                                                                                                                                                    By the way, people are saying that they wouldn't eat food that was in somebody elses mouth. Do you suck on chicken bones and pick your teeth with the drumstick? Its not like you chaw on the chicken bone and spit it back out on your plate.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I assume nobody here would have a problem if I put raw chicken in a pot to make stock. Yet if I take a bite of a carrot and throw that in the pot to simmer for two hours it's somehow disgusting. Where's the sense in that?

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MRich

                                                                                                                                                        It's the ick factor. It doesn't have to make sense. If the chef spit in a pot of soup, it wouldn't matter healthwise but it's still full of ick. I have no problems eating a chicken but wouldn't eat my neighbor's pet dog. Ick but no sense. Most of us draw the line somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MRich

                                                                                                                                                          Yes, an impression of your teeth on my carrot would be gross. Yuck! I don't care if you boil or radiate it after you've partially eaten it. I don't care if you sear it on the surface of the sun. You bite it--it's yours.

                                                                                                                                                        2. The OP's questions were about etiquette - not safety right? I don't think it is good etiquette to re use food product that has been on other people's plates (i.e. scrape plates). The ick factor makes it "bad form" to serve it to others.

                                                                                                                                                          I am sure it is perfectly safe, but so is eating food off the floor....and that is also bad form IMO.

                                                                                                                                                          48 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                            Very good point - the OP's questions was about etiquette rather than safety. And that's mirrored in the different camps of responses. Just like some feel that there's no problem with eating rabbit, some people find that icky. Some enjoy sushi, others find it icky. Some think it's OK to re-use chicken bones for stock, some don't. It is a matter of personal taste, and, like the OP stated, I don't think there is a right or wrong. Just what different individuals would do.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                              This is all hilarious....a moot point if really difficult times, or a disaster occurs!
                                                                                                                                                              Relax into frugality and just do what is right - no need to do it in front of the guests - just do it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: OCEllen

                                                                                                                                                                I know, right? I was trying to describe this thread to my Mom today. Saying it out loud is very funny. I said it fell into three camps. the ick! the this is why you can't get germs, and the are you kidding me? camps.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                                                                  I am firmly in the third category. I never would have thought such a thread would ever exist let alone develop so much chatter. Although since deleted, the posts comparing the used bones to silverware were especially funny. If the analogy is taken to its natural conclusion, I too would use chicken bones from someone else's plate and mouth IF they were run through the dishwasher first with Cascade and Jet Dry.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                    Nasty bad@! I honestly got a taste sensation flash from reading that..
                                                                                                                                                                    This thread has skated along some very thin ice and I am sure the mods discussed locking it a time or two. And I did not see that some posts were deleted as silverware and bones were well, a very funny visual,

                                                                                                                                                                    I still think what it boils down to (well it is stock) Do you lie about food? Why and to whom? I.personally can't. But now I have an increased doubt about others,

                                                                                                                                                                    BTW, my Mom was horrified when I told her what some posters thought chefs and other food professionals do. I grew up in the food biz my folks started. But she said can't help what people think, you can only do what you know is right.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe I missed it, but when did people say they would deliberately lie about the chicken bone thing? If asked, I certainly think the person should tell the guest about the process. But there is a world of difference between lying, and not offering the information. For example, I typically put a pound of ground venison into my chili, along with 2 pounds of ground beef. I also put in a bottle of dark beer. Some folks that might eat the chili - relatives, or co-workers if I make it for a potluck - don't like dark beer. And I know that some folks - though I can't always remember who exactly - think venison is icky. But they all love the chili, and would never imagine it contains dark beer or venison. Am I lying because I don't announce to the crowd all the ingredients? Where is my obligation?

                                                                                                                                                                      Saying that it boils down to lying about food is a bit of an extreme position. I don't think that's what folks here suggested. Rather, it's a question of, how much information do you need to provide to your guests about the dishes you are preparing? Do I need to tell my guests I ground up gizzards and livers for a gravy? Some might find that gross. Do I need to tell my guests that I made my own creme fraiche by letting a dairy product sit on my counter-top at room temperature for 24 hours? That would gross out most folks, even though it's a standard way of making creme fraiche. How do you deal with some people's "ick" factor, where you know that the food safety and science are sound, but some people's perceptions are going to turn them off to something, even if there's no logical reason for it? In that case (and I'm not suggesting lying to them if they ask about it), is not volunteering the information a lie? Because I don't think it is.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                        <is not volunteering the information a lie? >

                                                                                                                                                                        Not necessarily, but people come to the table with a set of expectations about what they are about to consume. One of my expectations (and I don't think I'm alone) is that the person preparing my food has taken reasonable precautions to ensure that it does not contain spit. The situation described by the OP is one in which my food would contain spit. Boiled spit, sure, but spit nonetheless. So not telling me that my food contains spit is a lie of omission.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, you should let people know that there's deer and alcohol in your chili. I don't want to hijack the thread, but people have reasons for not consuming one or both and what you're doing is deceptive because you know darn well that people wouldn't necessarily assume either was in the food.
                                                                                                                                                                          Bad...on the other hand, gizzards? It's still chicken which people know they're eating already.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                            Interesting - there is no reasonable expectation of beer in chili? Is no no reasonable expectation of red wine in a tomato sauce? Or of white wine used to deglaze a sauce pan if making a simple chicken and mushrooms? Seriously?!? What about coffee in chili - many people add a cup off coffee as a flavor booster - should I warn people ahead of time? I also throw a pork shoulder chunk into my tomato sauce to give it a meaty flavor as it cooks - should I warn people ahead of time? Even though adding a chunk of meat to a pot of sauce is a very common practice? At what point does this become ridiculous? At what point does every dish need to have an ingredient list because it might contain a "secret" ingredient.

                                                                                                                                                                            We can agree to to disagree - if someone has an allergy or a medical, religious, or ethical reason for not consuming a certain ingredient or food, it's incumbent on them to ask if that ingredient is in the dish. That's the accepted practice. And that's the law - restaurants do not need to post ingredient lists for their dishes - only provide accurate information if asked.

                                                                                                                                                                            To me, this is taking the nanny state one step further.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                              You're practice is deceptive. Justify all you want, but you're assuming a whole lot. You're not a restaurant, I assume. You're a hostess and should think of your guests first and foremost.
                                                                                                                                                                              If I ate something with caffeine, it could very well aggravate my heart arrhythmia. And stuff like this you don't care about? Sorry, I can't comprehend this level of disregard.
                                                                                                                                                                              YOU know how to boost flavor with alcohol and coffee etc., but most people do not. Yeah, they love your food, but would not have a clue why.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                There is a major difference, which is why the analogy doesn't quite work in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                                Venison, beer, and coffee are all common ingredients that a person shouldn't be shocked to find in home cooking. If you as a guest are unable to eat said common ingredients in cooking, the obligation is on you to make that known. Of course, if a host knows that a guest is a Muslim or a vegan or recovering alcoholic or cannot take caffeine due to heart problems and serves these ingredients to their guest anyway, he's being a jerk. But it's not a host's obligation to provide a complete ingredient list for his meal just in case. That's silly.

                                                                                                                                                                                Unlike the above ingredients, a guest would have no reasonable expectation of being served bones that had been in another's mouth, and as such should not be expected to state their objection unless asked. So, given the likelihood of a guest objecting (despite there being no real health risk), it is the host's duty to ask.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                  Depends where you're from. This city girl never, ever ate deer and did not know anyone who did.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Again, assumptions.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                    To my knowledge, I've never eaten purple yam or dover sole. Doesn't mean I would expect a warning before someone served em at a dinner party.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hardly a comparison to alcohol and deer where clearly, there can be moral, dietary, health and religious issues to bear.
                                                                                                                                                                                      But, keep the far-reaching examples coming...I love a good straw man.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                        It's still on you to let your host know if you have objections to eating things. Even if you think the host knows (remember, not everyone is "clued-in" enough to know that observant Muslims don't drink alcohol), a gentle e-mail or call is sufficient.

                                                                                                                                                                                        A good host should know to ask if there are any dietary restrictions to steer clear of (very close friends of mine are diabetic, which means when we have them over we serve a cheese course instead of dessert), but the ultimate responsibility for one's health lies with the person whose health it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This has wandered pretty far from the chicken stock question, incidentally; if you're a vegan you won't want chicken stock whether it's from "used" bones or "new" bones. (I can just see the sign in France now: "BOUILLONS NOUVEAUX ET D'OCCASION")

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                          May I ask what the "clear" dietary, health, or religious issues surrounding venison are (and I'm not talking about trying to pass it off on a vegetarian)? If someone is plopping down a pot of chili, does it need to be said explicitly that it's pork, chicken, beef, venison, antelope, bison, or whatever? If there's a Muslim or Jewish person digging in, shouldn't it be incumbent on them to ask whether there's pork in the dish or not? Is there similarly a religion which bars followers from eating venison? Isn't this going down a pretty ridiculous road?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                            It would be nice and generous of you to take initiative when it comes to explaining ingredients. Perhaps, just perhaps, your act of graciousness will save someone the discomfort of announcing their issues, whatever they may be.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Peace out.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                              Then the question still stands - are you saying its incumbent on the cook to list every ingredient that's going into every dish? You seem to think there's an issue with venison in chili, but what about the nutmeg that I put in? Or the can of crushed tomatoes? Why a need to generously explain some of the ingredients, but not all? I'm just trying to find some consistency in the line of reasoning.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                            "Hardly a comparison to alcohol and deer where clearly, there can be moral, dietary, health and religious issues to bear.
                                                                                                                                                                                            But, keep the far-reaching examples coming...I love a good straw man."

                                                                                                                                                                                            1) I'm doubting that you fully understand what a strawman argument is.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2) Aren't dover sole endangered? And can you say with any certainty that there aren't people who have allergies to purple yams? I can't.

                                                                                                                                                                                            3) Good luck showing up to eat with an unsaid expectation that you'll be informed any time something caffeinated makes its way into one of the dishes. That's not the way dinner parties and home cooking works anywhere I've been. Seems wiser to just state your needs plainly to the people who are nice enough to feed you.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree that it is not a good idea to make assumptions. It really is about knowing your guests and sometimes that is just not possible. Most people with food restrictions are pretty open about saying something to the host. Usually, the more serious the restriction is...the more likely it will be the first thing your guest tells you (like a life threatening peanut allergy). However, they might not say anything if it's not "critical" to them or if they don't think it is relative to the meal...meaning they never thought there might be coffee in the chili, MSG in the pasta or wine in the stew. They might find out later and be miserable in some way- but not dead. That would still suck.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I think if you don/t really know your guests, and there is an inkling of a possible restriction- you do have an obligation to let them know if there is anything in the food that could reasonably cause a person problems. You don't have to mind read...but ...... a new guest that tells you in advance that they don't drink alcohol( I would take the cue) and say "hey, I know you don't drink alcohol, but do you mind wine in the tomato sauce?" Isn't that just being a good host? Is that really too much trouble?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                            But isn't that the same that happens when someone goes to a restaurant? Are you going to ask if there's coffee in the chili, MSG in the pasta or wine in the stew? If it's something very important to you, then you ask. But I don't think there's a reasonable expectation for a restaurant to list every ingredient. Why should things be different at someone's home? If you have a health/religious/ethical issue, you should ask ahead of time (because, to be blunt, if you're not asking until after you're at the host's home, you might end up with an empty plate. So there's that dose of realism that seems to be missing from this conversation).

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, agreed. If a Muslim is coming over, I'm not serving pork chops, and if someone that I know is lactose intolerant is coming over, a gratin dauphinois is not on the table. And I completely agree - if someone says they don't drink, I'll mention the wine in the tomato sauce. If they say they don't consume caffeine, I'll tell them about the coffee in the chili.

                                                                                                                                                                                            But here's a sticky one - a friend of mine doesn't like pork. It's not religious, ethical, or health. It's an "ick" thing. Should I tell her that some veggies that were in a coq-au-vin were browned in a couple ounces of bacon (bacon later removed for future use)? Or that the tomato sauce from the baked ziti she had had a chunk of pork shoulder in it while the sauce cooked, to flavor the meat, but was later pulled out in its entirety? In don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                              I think your "gut" would tell you if you should tell her or not. The bottom line is that you should know your friend well enough to gauge how big of a deal it is. I would ask myself if I thought she would be mad if I didn't tell her, and she found out later. All peoples "ick" response is not created equal! If she is a good friend, I would want to make sure I respected her ick factor and not hurt my friendship over something as silly as hiding a piece of meat. Also, secrets are usually bad things.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree completely. She doesn't care. It's just a complicated question about when you start volunteering information on the off chance that someone might care - or if someone might care, but for a silly reason. In an example I gave earlier, my mom and grandma gave me horse steak and blood sausage to eat when I was a kid. To take some folks line of reasoning here, they should have told me what it was, because those are "non-conventional" ingredients. In reality, had they told me what it was, there is no way I would have tried it, not as a kid. But the end result was that I didn't have my pre-conceived notions (read: ick factor) get in the way, and today, specifically because of those experiences, and more like them, I've taken a very liberal view of things I'll try. So, for better or worse, I often subscribe to the theory that what you don't know won't hurt you - within ethical, medical, and religious bounds, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                  When my brother was a kid, he knew his fluffy -newly -brought- home-carnival -prize -rabbit (named "Bugs") died by dog attack. Sad. But he didn't know he was eating Bugs for dinner at Grandma's house the next evening. Our oldest brother could hardly contain himself from torturing him with the news. It think it traumatized him. He won't eat rabbit to this day. That one certainly violated the "ethical" bounds of omission of detail :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "I think your "gut" would tell you if you should tell her or not. The bottom line is that you should know your friend well enough to gauge how big of a deal it is. I would ask myself if I thought she would be mad if I didn't tell her, and she found out later. All peoples "ick" response is not created equal! If she is a good friend, I would want to make sure I respected her ick factor and not hurt my friendship over something as silly as hiding a piece of meat. Also, secrets are usually bad things."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  +1. Assuming we like our guests, it's about acting on our best intentions and best judgment in the given situation/context, and taking care to ask when we're not sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                Right - agreed. Why wouldn't a host want to ask their guests if there are any restrictions, even if they're not 'obligated' to and even if guests should proactively disclose if it matters enough to them? After all, a host is entertaining on behalf of their guests and their guests are in their care. It's easy for the host, it serves as a double-check in case the guest forgets to mention, and it makes it less awkward for guests who don't want to inconvenience the host - my guess is there are at least some guests who won't volunteer non-life-threatening food restrictions/objections but if the hosts asks they will tell.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                          If any of my dishes contain raw eggs, I tell my guests. I put this along those lines. Most don't care but there are some who do so I feel it's important to warn them. Similarly, my friend cooks her pork medium/rare and tells her guests and asks if they want it cooked more. I don't want to assume people have the same level of tolerance as I do, especially if it's against standard practices. Reusing chicken bones that other guests have gnawed on is.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                            I read a joke-y (not) post on another site about a woman who was threatening to slip a little breast milk into drinks at a party. That probably wouldn't hurt anyone either, but hell no.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                                                                              That's another one--I drink cow milk but wouldn't lick my breast milk that dripped on my hand. No logic because it's probably far better for me than cow milk.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                                                                                Breast milk cocktail sounds delicious!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I believe there was a place in NYC that served breast milk cheese, got a long of media attention as a result.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                                                                                                    A fun rumor, but an untrue one. The chef at Klee made cheese out of his wife's breast milk, but as he states very plainly on his blog, "I want to make it perfectly clear: The mommy's milk cheese was not produced in my restaurant nor was it sold or offered there - as misstated in some media."


                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                            "on the other hand, gizzards? It's still chicken which people know they're eating already." Sweetbreads are part of the animal, but lots of people have trouble with that. Cock's comb is part of the chicken (well, rooster technically), and lots of people have trouble with that. And pig's knuckles are part of the pig, and regular pork-chop lovers have trouble with that. Just sayin'.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                              And you wouldn't label them as such? I would so people can make INFORMED choices.
                                                                                                                                                                                              First do no harm, make no assumptions and always err on the side of caution. Learn it. Live it.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Nanny state my ass.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                Folks that come over my house to eat know what they're getting into. They know they're in for something different than grandma's hotdish. And they know not to ask - until after the meal. Anyone that asks what I'm feeding them, I'll happily tell them, and give them as much detail as they want. Heck, I'll even tell them exactly which muscles they're eating, or tell them about their digestive processes at work. As a physiologist, I can really get into the minutia of a chunk of meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Sometimes folks ask me to not make something in particular, and I know the likes and dislikes of most of my guests. I'm happy to work around those. But within a dish that fits what someone likes, and barring any ethical, religious, or medical issues, I'm going to include what I want into that dish to make it what I feel is the best tasting dish possible. If that means including something that some folks my find "icky" because of an irrational fear, but which is perfectly safe to eat, I'm not going to volunteer that info. Because in the end, everyone is going to find something icky about something. Few people want to know exactly how sausage is made or what's in it - but most folks love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                We can agree to disagree. Maybe it stems from my upbringing. As a kid, I was given food on a plate, and knew I had to eat it, or at least try it. I had kidney, tripe, blood sausage, and horse steak, all at my grandmother's in France, all without being told what it was until I was done with the plate (blood sausage was awesome, horse was indistinguishable from beef, tripe I didn't like, and kidney was fine). Maybe that's why today, I'll try anything once, and have a very high setpoint for the ick factor. Because at the end of the day, if food safety isn't an issue, and it's edible, then it's food - whether it's Kraft mac and cheese, blood sausage, or antelope rump. But then again, that's just my view. And it's gotten me this far, without too many (serious) GI issues....

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: POAndrea

                                                                                                                                                                                                    OP here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Regarding informing my guests of the process of whatever food I've made. I'll probably say if something is not vegetarian. I'll say if it's not kosher and I think it might be an issue. If there's alcohol/coffee in anything I make, I'll probably let people know, even if the alcohol will be fully cooked out--if I suspect it'll be an issue. I don't have any friends who are allergic to peanuts. And I'll usually *ask* ahead of time if there's something someone can't/won't eat. Otherwise, no... I won't necessarily detail every little thing in a dish. It's not a matter of being deceptive in any way. If someone asks... sure, I'll divulge whatever secrets I have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The whole question came up because I have a bunch of chicken bones, as well as chicken stock in my freezer. I don't necessarily know the full provenance of the bones nor of the stock. Some of the bones have been "used" but I don't know to what extent. And some of the bones are "fresh" in that they either came from chickens I boned out or from some backs I bought at the local butcher. The stock? Who knows. It's been in there for a couple of months and the bones to make it were probably from some point in the late summer or early fall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Still haven't gotten around to doing anything yet with either of them though, through this lengthy, energetic debate. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: egit

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Egit, look what you started! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Honestly, this has been a really interesting discussion, but at the end of the day I think it really comes down to the relationship between a cook and his/her guests. My friends know I make stock out of bones because at the end of a meal I ask them to save the bones for me. Every time we go to a steakhouse I ask everyone to pack up their bones and give them to me also. A couple people have thought it was slightly weird but none of my friends have ever told me they thought it was gross that I was using leftover bones for stock. Your results may vary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Next up: Do you reveal to your guests that you used MSG in your food?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                    "if that means including something that some folks my find "icky" because of an irrational fear, but which is perfectly safe to eat, I'm not going to volunteer that info. "

                                                                                                                                                                                                    To me that is lying about food. Lying is not just what you say, but also what you do not say; lying by omission.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think pretty much everyone who posted here about the "ick" factor also said it had no base in reason but was a pretty solid and unbreakable personal rule. So to lie to a person so they will eat something that I know they probably would not eat if they knew to me is just plain mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Few people want to know exactly how sausage is made or what's in it - but most folks love it."
                                                                                                                                                                                                    But they choose NOT to know, in your lying by omission you have refused them the right to make that decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also it was well discussed in
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The fact that you view Ick as irrational and may personally not have or have a low ick factor does not give you the right to circumvent another's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I really would hate to see my guests do that "throw up in the mouth" reflex.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    People I invite to my table are people I like, respect and want to share the love food. I could not betray them by not telling them something. If they are at my table, I am responsible for them, and respectful to them. Else they would not be sitting at my table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Quine, what do you think about MSG disclosure? Almost everyone I know has an "ick" reaction to it but science tells us that there is no health risk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Personally I have no ick factor about it, I actually like it. But then I have Umami as my favorite taste.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I know alot of people think it gives them headaches.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't have an MSG per se, (can you even but Accent anymore) but if I am using something that may contain it I would ask the guest in my pre-dinner anything you don't/can't eat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I did once find an empty large, industrial sized MSG container outside a Chinese restaurant. I took it home and it became my kitchen trash can. Now that was fun, the looks people got on their faces when they first saw it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Quine

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry, I either didn't explain myself well, or the message got misunderstood. I'm certainly not saying I'm going to feed people sketchy things just to get my jollies, or intentionally feed people things I know they wouldn't otherwise eat. The dark beer in chili is a good example. There's lots of folks I know that don't like dark beer, but if they ask what's in the chili and I tell them, they just sort go, "Oh, OK". Ditto with wine - my girlfriend's sisters don't like red wine - not a religious or alcohol thing, they just don't like red. But it's fine if it's in a dish. My GF doesn't like coffee - to drink a cup of it. But it's fine if it's an ingredient. That's what I'm getting at. Ans same with the venison - GF and her sister's won't eat a venison roast, but as a portion of meat in chili, well, they love the chili, knowing what's in it. There's tons of examples, ranging from anchovies to mayonnaise to rabbit to beans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The lying by omission as a blanket rule is tough, because it's logical conclusion is that you need to disclose every ingredient to everyone - and that's simply not possible. Again - most restaurants deglaze pans with wine - but wine won't be listed as an ingredient in the menu. Is that really a lie by omission? A tomato sauce that uses red wine as a flavoring agent, but the menu says baked ziti. Is that a lie by omission? Where does it stop?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                          See now I have to disagree and I think that will be the final endpoint and you know there is a "but".

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Again - most restaurants deglaze pans with wine - but wine won't be listed as an ingredient in the menu. "

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Grew up in the family restaurant business. Any form of alcohol (in any consumable form ) was never even on the premises. Since then I have worked in many restaurants. From small places to Showboat casino in Atlantic city. Because the use of alcohol is problematic for many people (for various reasons) it is never used in any form unless shown on the menu. And servers were very, very well instructed to clearly make sure any requests that it not be used, were not only written on the ticket but also verbally conveyed to the kitchen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes it matters. Your statement of "Again - most restaurants deglaze pans with wine - but wine won't be listed as an ingredient in the menu. " is not supported, tho I know you like to think it is the way it is.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes you should not lie by omission. You should give your guests the chance and respect to know what is in what you are serving and not do a surprise reveal at the end. "See you said you did not like dark beer or venison but you loved my chili which has both. Ha ha." Give then the respect to make the choice to try it, trusting in you that you will respect their decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          And for the record. Ming Tsai, a chef I have greatly admired for years, is well, I'll let you read for yourself:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          His son has very serious food allergies. A written disclosure of all recipes and ingredients is offered up front. I suggest you look at his website. A most gracious man and a brilliant chef, is spreading the word.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is a shame what folks think happens (baked ziti has red wine in all places or most places) at restaurants. That to me is always the hardest part when people ask me what I do, and I am not in a food centric crowd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I only know of one person I ever worked with, who did one of those Urban myth deals, putting something in your food to get even. And it was a report I read in the newspaper. He placed industrial dish soap in the after closing staff meal on one particular staff member. It was about 5 years since I had worked with him, I understand his sentence was 5r years, with probation possible after 3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                                                                                                            for you, to show I have a sense of humor and probably would try what you cooked"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm responding to Forever's post and some others above (this might make more sense read in the context of my earlier posts).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here are my thoughts:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            (1) Ultimately, we entertain because we want to create a positive experience for our guests - i.e., it's about them, not us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            (2) When we talk about trying to take into account guests' reasonable expectations when deciding what to disclose or what to cook/not cook, there's no hard and fast rule and there's no need to take this to an extreme. In my mind, it's all about using our best judgment and acting on the best intentions. This does not mean doing everything possible to find out every possible objection every guest might have to anything we are thinking about cooking. But it does mean that if we know guests might have particular allergies, objections, etc., we ask about them and we try to accommodate them - because they are our guests and we are hosting them to create a positive experience for them. It also means that if we are doing something with our cooking we are not comfortable disclosing because it might lead some guests to not want to dine with us again, we might want to consider not doing that (at least when those guests are attending). It also means that even though it might be the ultimate 'responsibility' of the guest to disclose rare food allergies to the host, the thoughtful host will proactively ask guests whether they have any such restrictions whether it's their 'duty' or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            (3) The 'reasonable expectations' I mentioned earlier that a host should take into account when deciding what to disclose is localized in the sense of both time and community (including who one's guests are). So if I'm growing up in an observant Muslim community, I might feel more of a responsibility to disclose if I decide to serve a dish with pork in it. But that might not be the case if I'm entertaining a bunch of friends I know well, none of whom are Muslim. If I'm serving to my family and they know I collect their gnawed on bones to make the family stock, there's clearly no need to disclose to them before they dip into the stock - they're consuming it with eyes wide open. And during a famine that is equally affecting everyone, there might not be a need to disclose that one is cooking with re-cycled bones or other food because everyone is doing it and in fact it might be foolish not to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            (4) There's a difference, in my mind, between serving a dish to guests that includes potentially unconventional ingredients that might have a 'yuk' factor (or otherwise be objectionable to some guests for health or other reasons) but is part of the recipe and is meant to make the dish better, and using gnawed on bones to make stock that is served to guests. The former has the guest in mind (I would hope) but the latter does not. This doesn't always lead to different conclusions (e.g., you might still want to disclose venison or beer in chili -- or raw egg whites in mixed drinks - particularly if you have reason to believe that your particular guests might not expect it and would not eat it were they to know the inclusion of the venison or beer or raw egg), but it might in some cases.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            (5) Again, at the end of the day it's one's best intentions and one's best judgment, which I would hope the host would want to exercise on behalf of their guests. It's not black-and-white and it should not be taken to an extreme. Using one's best judgment in a given situation -- the expectations of the guests in question, the possible impact of certain ingredients on guests' health or their 'ick' factor, etc. -- does not logically lead to being irrationally extreme about any of this (e.g., if I disclose something don't I have to disclose everything?).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree with everything you said, and I don't think any of my comments were inconsistent with your points. Of course a host should try to find out what are the likes are dislikes of guests coming over. In my posts, I talked about family members and friends, whose dining habits I am already very well aware. Someone new coming over for dinner? Of course one can't make assumptions. And, of course, that communication needs to take place before arrival, because being told as one is seated for a Saturday afternoon football game that the chili has beer or venison in it is a bit too late if a guest has issue with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              And just as we all different "ick" factors, we also all have different points to which we go to accommodate guests. Some people I know will only cook within their own comfort zone, and also on squarely within other people's comfort zones. I tend to push comfort zones when cooking - my own and others. The people that come over to my house to eat, or that regularly share in potlucks with me, know this. There are no surprises, and I certainly don't play "gotcha" games like one poster suggested. I know one guy who, at a work potluck party, made chocolate covered spam balls. They weren't labeled. They were on the desert table. One person ate one, and promptly spit it out - they are vegetarian. The guy that brought them is, in my book, and idiot for doing that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Of course it's about knowing your guests, and of course there are no hard-and-fast rules. I think we're all on the same page on that one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chocolate covered salty meat balls? Sign me up! I'll be happy to start with the piece that came out of the vegetarian's mouth. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, it's knowing your guests. I probably wouldn't serve gnawed on chicken bone stock to complete strangers, but all of my close friends and family know what's up and they have no problems with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, and I also try to serve up "challenging" dishes for my friends as much as possible. To me that's the real joy of cooking, when you serve up something tasty when they weren't expecting it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I personally remember the first time I collected leftover bones and made stock with it. I didn't think it could possibly turn out ok but it did, and I guess that got me hooked on the beauty of free stock. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You could always prechew the food you serve to your guests like on the Saturday Night Live skit.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Aside from the 'ick' factor of the usual food borne illnesses and germs, consider this:

                                                                                                                                                                                        I am undergoing treatment for cancer and am on some weapons-grade chemo. My bodily fluids are toxic. I do not allow my children or husband to sip out of a cup I have used nor would I allow them to eat off of a plate I had used. I have no idea whether or not all of the chemicals in my body would be obliterated by a long period of boiling. I have all of my hair, and to look at me you would never know I'd been sick unless I told you. And, because it's a private matter and I don't want people treating me differently, I only tell people on a 'need to know' basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                        How would you like to take the bones from my chicken leg and make stock out of them?

                                                                                                                                                                                        The thought of a restaurant doing this is unthinkable.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Just another perspective, and a reminder that you really can't always know what's circulating in someone else's body, and thus in their saliva.


                                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Cj52

                                                                                                                                                                                          Something most never have to consider or think about. Here's hoping you nuke every last bad cell into oblivion, and wear out the rest due to age..

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf, thank you. That's very kind.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Cj52

                                                                                                                                                                                            Good point. I'm also on chemo and was given instructions on what to do with this kind of stuff for the several days after chemo, so I would imagine saliva would also fall into that category. I make jokes that I can probably be seen from space. It's poison, really, as effective as it can be. Not for sharing.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Off-topic, but I hope you are well. Chemo's a b*tch.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                                                                              Im_nomad, nope, it's no fun, but the good news is....we get to live, right? Best of luck in beating the beast.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Your glowing friend,
                                                                                                                                                                                              Cj :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Cj52

                                                                                                                                                                                                You're my hero. If only more of us were so grateful for life and the opportunity to live it!

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Cj52

                                                                                                                                                                                              Excellent point, Cj. And many prayers for you during your cancer treatment. <3

                                                                                                                                                                                            3. I'm sorry, but this is just gross. Go to a Chinese grocer or similar and get some chicken carcasses for a dollar or two, and leave people's leftovers out of your stock!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jadore

                                                                                                                                                                                                Agree! And all this debate about whether it's hazardous or not is weird to me. It's not hazardous, it's simply gross ...isn't that enough? Urine is sterile.....does that mean I'm picky because I don't want any accidently slipping into my food??

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. This thread is now a topic of the Table Manners column on CHOW: http://www.chow.com/food-news/78603/p...

                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I liked the line that said it would be safe to eat other people's boogers if they were boiled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the Peace Corps, the question was: "If you boil mud, is it sterile?"