How to spit on food

How strange and how nasty – some may have thought. Why would anybody want to do that? How revolting – right? Of course when you think of spitting, large hunks of spit being hurled comes to mind – and spitting on anyone even by accidentally sputtering on them whilst talking is far from nice. Most of us will agree.

So what’s this about spitting in food. Well hold on. What if someone spat in your food and you didn’t see them spit in your food, would that concern you? Sure it would. There’s the old accepted advice from cultural Britain that you should never complain about food at a restaurant and ask them to bring back a better plate, cuz the cook will probably spit in it and return it.  Look, I don’t know if the accepted advice is good – the point here is that spitting in or on food is not considered a welcome thing.

Well, this morning I happened to be watching Saturday Kitchen live with celeb guest Shelly Conn. I noticed again – as I have hundreds of times before that there is much talking going on over the food. Some idiot is now gonna ask me if I expect them to remain silent. I give up. Look, let me move on. But why would I take notice of that and millions of other Brits would not? [Hello! This is British TV, so I can expect that Brits are going to be the predominant audience – nothing racist in that]

You see, when I was a very young child whenever I visited my grand mother, she would ensure that there was no one talking over or near a pot of food that was ‘cooking’ (whatever). She’d also ban everybody from speaking over food that was being dished out. Some may say that she had OCD – yuh know, once you label someone you can just put them to one side. In my childhood ignorance I did ask ‘why’ and then had to duck or cower to avoid a hand coming at my head! But my dad or someone else might have explained that it was to keep bugs out of the food. Also all prepared food was kept covered with a big sheet until ready for dishing out. I don’t think my grand mother actually knew why she did what she did –it was just part of her cultural programming. Contrast that with British or European programming where it certainly is the norm to speak over food being prepared or dished out.

The science behind my grandmother’s seeming OCD, came to the better realisation only in the last 10 years or so.  I wrote about this in part last April: Make your food stay longer… But I would have known from the my days as a student of the medical sciences that air was a good carrier of bugs on micro-particles of dust or even spit.

Anyways this Saturday Kitchen live thing got me going again this morning. So I revisited my previous post and looked around for more of the science. But ‘what’s the point?’ you wonder. I’m actually going to get to the main point and it has nothing to do with spitting in food. You’ll see. 

So – I said in April last year “Studies of the droplets from human breath have shown this – and sorry it’s not just about coughing and sneezing. Do I need to explain that the more bacteria in food from whatever source the less the time the food will remain wholesome?” The size of these droplets are around the 1 micron diameter size. Another article Exhaled droplets due to talking and coughing says that these droplets are 50 – 100 micron in size. The point is, in case you missed it, that this size of ‘stuff’ is not visible to the naked eye – unless you’re gifted with some sort of special eyes. [100 micron is about half the width of an average human hair, which is about the smallest ‘size’ that the human eye can see – but most spit droplets are smaller – except for those big white chunks that you may see when someone sputters while speaking]. Certainly you’d have to be very gifted to spot 50 micron droplets of spit flying in the course of regular human conversation – but all humans emit this stuff unknowingly, to themselves or you. Yes – so every time you get about a metre or so in the range of another person, you are bathed in their micro-droplets of spit as they speak. Oh dear – ignorance is bliss – isn’t it?

So – people speaking over or near food is as ‘good’ as an upset chef (referred to above) spitting in your food and serving it back to you. You can have this done to your food without being a difficult customer!spit_in_food

Cognitive Dissonance statements to help you:

  1. What doesn’t kill will fatten.
  2. I’ve been a victim of spit in my food for donkeys years and never suffered any ill effects – so I couldn’t care less.
  3. I can’t stop people speaking over food at my table.
  4. You’ve got OCD from your grandmother – go see a shrink.
  5. I just don’t believe any of the above yarn – you should find better things to do with your time.
  6. Cooking kills all bugs, so what’s all the fuss.
  7. ….. add to the list as you please.

Ahhh… but let’s not forget the big point I was going to get to. For those who accept the science and the reasoning behind avoiding getting spit in the food, ask yourself this, “Am I going to change what I do?”. The reality is that cultural forces will prevail over any decision-making driven by the science.  Right – they’ve begun spitting on some crab they’re about to cook on the Saturday Kitchen live programme, so I better go see how it’s done by the experts!! Chrysst!! A few showers of spit just went in!!

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