My refrigerator is my scientific laboratory. I am a
pioneer in food science much like the great scientist Marie Curie. If
something has remained in the fridge too long, it is usually I who musters
up the courage to eat it.
I do take precautions. I cautiously sniff the product in
question. If required, I will skim any green or fuzzy material which may
have colonized the surface (often I even go 2 to 3 millimeters below the
questionable region just to be 70% certain I will not get sick).
There is one final line of defence I use to protect myself
from any gastrointestinal infection—the taste test. If something does not
taste the way I remember it should I ask myself three questions:
1. Does it taste familiar? There are some foodstuffs that
are purposely exposed to bacteria to enhance their flavour and desirability.
Cheeses and yoghurt come to mind as do wines and some types of alcohols. If
some aged fruit or dairy product has that piquant taste of wine or cheese I
may decide to enjoy it immediately or wait another week to age it to
2. Does it taste unfamiliar but good? On rare occasions a
spoiled product may taste even better than we could ever imagine. I think
this was probably how many of the foods we take for granted today were
introduced into our diet.
3. Does it taste bad? Even I have my standards. Nature has
a built in system for preventing its creatures from eating things that may
not be good for them-it is called decomposition. I live to eat, and I do not
eat to live. Life is too short to eat things that taste bad. Why eat healthy
food if it tastes awful? I certainly will not eat bad tasting food that may
As a former student of microbiological science I learned
five things that guide my life. Resources, including food, are limited and
should not be wasted, micro organisms are often beneficial to our survival,
so we should not eliminate them from our lives.
Thirdly, foods with lots of added sugar or salt and
processed cheese slices have a longer shelf life than fresh foods. Also, tea
spoils faster than coffee ( I learned this one on my own).
Finally, our immune system must be exposed to microbes in
order to defend against them. I do not want to suggest that people change
their eating habits to recycle some moldy pasta.
I only wish to give you a glimpse into my own thought
process. Scientific (and culinary) discoveries come from taking some
calculated risks. For the rest of society it is probably best to follow the
philosophy that we throw it out when in doubt.