Amy Hubbell

About Amy Hubbell

Lecturer in French at the University of Queensland, food safety conscious person, and spectator of terrible reality cooking shows Download C.V. »

Real Housewives of New York dogs drink too

In the latest episode of the Real Housewives of New York, Ramona is having a calendar shoot with her dog when Sonja shows up for a chat with her pup. The four are seated on an elegant couch when the guest doggy gets thirsty. Sonja, without missing a beat, offers her pooch her water glass and tells him kindly it is too early for champagne.

RHONY-dog RHONY-Ramona RHONY-Sonja

Ramona, polite but taken aback says, “I have water right in the kitchen. You know, I hope you’re not going to drink from that after.”

Sonja replies distracted, “I miss Milou so much but this dog is just…” and sighs.

And then Sonja takes a drink from the same glass.

Perhaps she learned her etiquette from Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, Lisa.

food porn for one

I take a fair amount of teasing from my girlfriends here in Australia.

“Amy, what’s Doug making for dinner tonight?”

“Stone crab.”

“Poor Amy.”

And last time Doug took a trip away, one of them invited me over a few times because she was rather convinced I don’t know how to cook. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve convinced other people I cannot cook so that they will feed me delicious food. But alas, I can cook. I just gave it up when I met Doug because I was terrified of killing us by cross-contaminating or undercooking our food. And now I’m out of practice.

On one of our first dates, I invited Doug to my house for dinner and a movie. After I get to a certain level of hungry, I can no longer think. And as we weighed options for ordering take out, I hit that point. I finally blurted out, “Let’s go to the grocery store and just buy some steak and salad.” Doug says that’s what won him over.

steakforoneTonight Sorenne-the-Ravenous only wanted to eat a sandwich, but after too many frozen chicken thingies and wondering why Australians don’t say whether the chicken is pre-cooked or raw, I needed some real food. Broiled porterhouse steak cooked to an internal temperature of 150F and left to rest while the temperature rose slightly, rosemary and sea salt chips, English cucumber and 4 leaf salad with cherry tomatoes, balsamic and olive oil. Yum. But a lonely dinner for one.

Nauseating translations

In a highly engaging puff-piece from MailOnline, “hilarious mistranslations”

chocolate pukeof food items on menus, most from East Asian countries, have been exposed. As I routinely work with translation students, I’ve had my share of belly laughs often induced by Google Translate (even though it is becoming eerily accurate). These translations might also turn your stomach.

Among the highlights are:

  • nausea sauce pork
  • smell of urine mixed with dried
  • half grilled chicken and herpes
  • crap eggs with bamboo flavor
  • saliva of a chicken product; and for dessert,
  • chocolate puke.

Students at the University of Queensland routinely analyze Albert Amgar’s translations of Food Safety Infosheets into French and practice back-translation into English to check Ben’s awesome grammatical powers. Just for giggles, I plugged the last Infosheet into Google Translate, converted to German then to French and then back to English. The result was mostly intelligible except for bits like this:

original

• Don’t handle food while ill; especially if you have symptoms like diarrhea (when transmission is likely) or vomiting (as virus particles may be spread to hands, clothes and other surfaces).

translation

• Do not handle food when they are sick, especially if you symptoms such as diarrhea (if Transmission is likely), or vomiting (such as viral particles can be divided between his hands, clothing and other surfaces).

For now my job is safe.

stir-fried wikipedia

A Top Chef Thanksgiving

Last night with the 80 degree temperatures outside, I curled up in bed with the seasonal spirit to watch the Top Chef Thanksgiving. The chefs split into teams with Emeril Lagasse and Tom Colicchio to cook their family favorite recipes.

On team Emeril, returning cheftestant Josie used her immunity to cook her team’s turkeys for the FareStart organization which trains disadvantaged individuals to become chefs. At some point her birds started looking blackened and she deemed the ovens to be too hot. She dialed down the temperature and played a guessing game.

During the meal the judges discussed the very pink meat on the birds:

“Not recommended by the USDA.”

“Coulda cooked a little more, unfortunately, but well seasoned.”

“Good flavor from the outside, but the inside was practically raw.”

All the while, there were no thermometers anywhere. Given the feedback, I presume the judges ate the pink birds.

Back in the kitchen Josie commented, “I’ve had my ups and downs on Top Chef, but, I’m happy with the turkey over all. But the question is, ‘is it overcooked?’ ‘is it dry?’ ‘is it moist?’” Josie was shocked when the judges told her it was undercooked.

Had she used a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, she would have known the answer. Blackened skin does not mean the turkey is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165F.

 

Food safety dreamin’

After nearly seven years living with a food safety nerd, it’s only natural that food safety would invade my dreams. Last night I dreamt I was going through a cafeteria line and the concept was to let us choose our meat, then pass it to the cook who prepared the meat to order. I was quite upset when I realized the raw beef patty was touching my bun. As we were shuffled along through the assembly line, I decided I didn’t want my hamburger. But what were they going to do with my now cross-contaminated bun? Serve it to someone else? Fortunately a few other disturbing events intervened and there was no foodborne illness outbreak before I awoke.

When gourmet means no sprouts

Friday I had to grab a quick lunch, so I joined a colleague at the “UQ Refec” (University of Queensland – that’s in Australia – food court in American lingo) to buy a sandwich. She had one in hand within a few seconds while I picked over the containers. The delicious looking wraps all had sprouts. Some were labeled with all ingredients, including alfalfa, but some were simply called Chicken and Salad and still contained sprouts. I rejected a chicken caesar sandwich because it cost $2 more for the same amount of food. While frantically trying to make a decision, I attempted to explain, in French, the dangers of sprouts and my decision not to eat them. I do enjoy the taste, but there are just too many people getting sick.

Finally, I settled on a sliced roast pork, shaved carrots and cucumber sandwich. It, too, was $2 more but sprout-free. Apparently gourmet means no sprout filler.

We returned to our office to discuss work over lunch. I cracked open my sandwich only to realize it was made on chia seed bread. At least the bread was cooked.

A table of sprout-related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprouts-associated-outbreaks

When gourmet means no sprouts

Friday I had to grab a quick lunch, so I joined a colleague at the “UQ Refec” (University of Queensland – that’s in Australia – food court in American lingo) to buy a sandwich. She had one in hand within a few seconds while I picked over the containers. The delicious looking wraps all had sprouts. Some were labeled with all ingredients, including alfalfa, but some were simply called Chicken and Salad and still contained sprouts. I rejected a chicken caesar sandwich because it cost $2 more for the same amount of food. While frantically trying to make a decision, I attempted to explain, in French, the dangers of sprouts and my decision not to eat them. I do enjoy the taste, but there are just too many people getting sick.

Finally, I settled on a sliced roast pork, shaved carrots and cucumber sandwich. It, too, was $2 more but sprout-free. Apparently gourmet means no sprout filler.

We returned to our office to discuss work over lunch. I cracked open my sandwich only to realize it was made on chia seed bread. At least the bread was cooked.

A table of sprout-related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprouts-associated-outbreaks

Elbow shake

Magic glove syndrome, the phenomenon where food service workers think they are immune to cross-contamination because they’re wearing protective gloves, is rampant on reality TV. Even our own butcher here in Brisbane touches everything from raw meat to money with his gloves on. It’s just one of those things I never would have thought about before I met Doug, but now I find it disgusting.

Tonight I’m catching up on missed episodes of Top Chef Just Desserts and have noticed some glove action going on. First, during a one-handed challenge, an opponent helped Chef Orlando put a sanitary glove on the one hand he was allowed to use. Then I did a happy double-take when I saw Chef Sally Camacho offer her elbow to Judge Hubert Keller at an event the cheftestants catered in L.A. She respected her gloved hands and diners by avoiding bringing potential clients’ germs into her dishes. 

Real Housewives, Really Gross

 We’ve been away from our American television channels and DVR for a few months already, and I’ve had some odd cravings for bad television. So last night I loaded up the season premiere of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills only to watch some unsanitary behaviour and food safety mistakes.

The entire episode was weirdly awkward, but when Ken, the stiff-upper-lipped British gentleman, claimed that therapy would make him feel weak, and then proceeded to let his little celebrity-pooch Jiggy drink from the very expensive crystal glass set before him, I cringed. Not to worry, it got worse. Once Jiggy had finished shoving his whole head into the glass, Ken picked it up and had a drink, too.
 
Bad television? The Housewives never disappoint. In the outtakes for upcoming episodes, Lisa (Jiggy’s mommy) is demonstrating to Adrienne how to prepare a large bird. She says that first it needs to be washed. Adrienne has her own bird, follows Lisa to the sink, and proceeds to use hand soap on it. Lisa thinks this is utterly ridiculous, of course. I can’t wait to see the cross-contaminations continue.
 
I’m no real housewife but I do know better than to wash my bird in the sink or to let my doggy drink from my glass at a dinner party.

Two weeks in Australia, still no meat thermometer

I used to cook. And then I met Doug. And all the food safety that I quickly learned scared me.

It’s no secret that Doug does all the cooking in our family. So now that Sorenne and I are in Australia patiently awaiting his arrival, I’ve cooked several frightening meals. I have no way of knowing if the chicken, sausage, or beef are going to kill us. I’ve looked for meat thermometers rather seriously at different major stores here and the only one I’ve seen was at Target – a ridiculously large round display on top of a probe. Think American turkey thermometer that comes out only at Thanksgiving and magnify the size by about 5. I tried again at Coles tonight… nada.

For dinner tonight I opted for pre-made raw meatballs to accompany the linguine because having a small child around is not conducive to getting up to your elbows in meat (especially when she’s screaming, “Mooooooom! Milk!”). I did my best to make a well-done meatball (I mean, who doesn’t love crispy meatballs), but how are mere mortals supposed to see if something’s cooked just by using our naked eyeballs?

Come on, Australia. Food safety is not just an American thing. I’m tired of worrying whether I’ll kill our 2 ½ year old over dinner. And I miss my favorite food safety expert’s voice in my ear reminding me to use a meat thermometer.