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Poison Control Center

When working with food of any kind, its important to observe some very basic rules to avoid food poisoning and/or harming your guests or making yourself or family sick.

Only prepare foods on a clean surface with clean tools: if you are slicing or preparing raw fish on a cutting board, be sure to wash and clean it thoroughly before you cut any other food on there.  If you use a cutting board, be sure its made of very hard wood, those that have a softer wood invites germs to inhabit the porous surface.  Always use clean knives and utensils when cutting or preparing food.  If you are using a knife to cut fish or meats, be sure to use a differnt knife for each and for vegetables.  Now, you can certainly use one knife for all your vegetables.

Garlic:  Everyone knows that garlic helps cut cholesterol, tastes great and also keeps vampires away, but when you use garlic to flavor oil, be sure that its used within a couple of hours.  DO NOT keep it on a shelf and/or for more than 2 hours, because its very possible it will breed botulism, for those of you who don't know, botulism WILL KILL you!

Rice:  Same as the garlic in the olive oil, rice kept over night or a few days, it is a breeding ground for bacteria and will make you very sick.  Whether its the paella, chinese food or italian dishes, you can save the other stuff (meat, fish, whatever) but discard all of the rice, every last grain.

Fish: As we know, fish is good for us, but it can also pose a hazard if you eat it too much like every day due to the mercury content.  Always be sure to cook it thoroughly.  Like shellfish, you are better off if you overcook it.  "What about sushi and sashimi? The Japanese eat it raw" some people question. First off, not all sushi is raw, secondly, make no mistake, when they serve sushi or sashimi (raw fish) they serve it with soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese horseradish).  It has been prove in a lap, that wasabi will kill any bacteria, nothing can grow when anything is treated with wasabi.  Unfortunately, wasabi is not a part of Italian cooking, and rather than serve wasabi (which is very hot, and really clear the sinus) with everything, you have to take proper precautions. 

Shellfish: Lobster, scallops, crab, mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp, etc., etc.  Always be sure to thoroughly cook any shellfish. It is better to err on the side of overcooked than undercooked.

Vegetables: I like to leave my vegetables in the "crisper" drawer, not out on the counter, they will last longer this way and there is less of a chance tiny bugs or insects or bacteria you can't even see will infect them.

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