Fourth of July Poison?

1 Jul

Letterbalm Deviled EggsDear LetterBalm: My great-aunt has always been a good cook, but I’m getting concerned. We’re very close and I spend time at her house, which is pretty clean. But recently I’ve noticed her refrigerator is dirty, with spoiled food and bad odors inside. Her dishes aren’t washed well, and she leaves food that should be refrigerated on the kitchen counter for days. I’ve gotten sick a couple of times after eating at her table. She’ll be joining the family for a Fourth of July picnic, and she’s insisting on bringing her special potato salad (with mayonnaise) and deviled eggs (eggs!). How can we gently discourage her?

–Gastro-Worried

No, you don’t want the family entourage winding up in the emergency room, throwing up to fireworks and the National Anthem. Ms. L.B. says you’ll have to stage a delicate intervention this time and deal with your great-aunt’s declining culinary awareness later on – a LetterBalm for another day.  You need to appoint yourself her sous-chef for the day, supervising every step. Buy the ingredients yourself, store them at your home, and bring your great-aunt to your kitchen to cook. (If she balks, bring the fixings to her and assist her, keeping dishes and surfaces clean.) Supply a cooler and ice and take her and her food to the picnic. And, make sure she washes her hands well throughout. Say this:

Aunt Lena, we’d love to have your potato salad and deviled eggs at the picnic, but only if you let me help you. I want to buy the fixings and cook with you for the day – my treat. Give me the list of your ingredients, I’ll do the shopping and pick you up in the morning to come to my kitchen to cook. If you need any special pans or bowls, we can bring them, too. Then, I’ll drive us to the picnic. I’ll have a cooler and ice to keep everything from spoiling. It’ll be fun watching you in my own kitchen.

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