It's that time of year where either you're the one in the kitchen whipping up batches upon batches of goodies, or you're busy consuming all the treats as they pass by your nose. I love how this time of year I can try oodles of good new recipes that I've been itching to try and can give away at least 90 percent of it. So yes, my family and friends are my best guinea pigs but they seem to do the job willingly. For the most part it's safe, no one has died from my cooking yet.
As much as I advocate cooking for yourself because you have control over what ingredients go into the dish, I cringe at the idea of food gifts sometimes. If I don't personally know pretty well the person who baked it, I'll probably politely decline. It's a cleanliness issue; does the cook know about proper food storage and handling? Do they keep their kitchen clean? (Define clean.) Do they just wash their hands before they begin or is it someone with 18 cats that all climb all over every inch of the counter tops? (Icky!) This paranoia I have stemmed from the panic that suddenly hit me on a random Tuesday afternoon when I was due to meet someone for dinner at a local buffet. Ah, the buffet... a veritable germ infested disaster waiting to happen. The sneeze guards just can't quite defend the mac & cheese from the 8 year old with the remnants of a cold. I justify my buffet avoidance now to those who aren't germ-o-phobes by the lack of value for me, I can't begin to eat the amount of mostly mediocre food necessary to make it worth the $15 price tag. From that fear, my concerns about others cooking has expanded to encompass pot-luck meals. Those are even more of a disaster in the makings, as you've got lots of food coming from a wide range of homes, with equal variances in cleanliness and proper food preparation knowledge. Throw in the challenge of getting food at the right and safe temperatures for extended periods of time, plus there's the travel time just to get there. Unfortunately at most pot-luck events, you're expected to eat plenty and are surrounded by family or friends who may be offended if you don't. What's a germ fearing nut to do? Smile, eat some chips, drink a bottle of water, and casually mention how you're working to keep your girlish figure.
Now that I've successfully left you paranoid about eating anything you didn't make yourself over the holidays, remember the conclusion I've come to for such occasions; a few germs won't kill you. But knowing they are there will probably help you to keep your appetite in check. Here's a new little modern day motto for the germ-o-phobe lurking inside you: "Walk softly and carry a bottle of antibacterial hand gel."