When I was growing up, Sunday was the day when my father would spend the entire afternoon making the “Sunday Gravy.” On my parent’s way home from church, they would stop at the grocery store and pick up the ingredients for the sauce that simmered all day long and filled the house with a wonderful aroma.
When he finished all the prep work that went into making the sauce and the accompanying meatballs, it was cleanup time. Out came the bottle of bleach and the scrub brush that he would use to clean, disinfect and hopefully not chlorine poison us.
He spent the next 15 minutes working on the thick wooden butcher block cutting board making sure that any germ or spec of bacteria had no chance of living through the Clorox-ing he was giving it.
This is the same guy who washed his hands in bleach and warned me from conception never to eat ice cream out of a soft-serve machine!
We all know these wooden cutting boards that get scored from daily use can easily harbor some nasty bacteria if not cleaned properly, which is why they should be thrown out when signs of heavy use or cracks start to appear.
Every now and then I manage to dine at a restaurant where some part of the meal, either an appetizer or main course, is served on wood in an attempt to be trendy.
I cringe and take note to ask for a plate the next time.
A few years ago restaurants started a fad where food, especially burgers, were served on small steel baking pans. I’m not sure who thought that was a good idea or was visually appealing. It makes me think prison food. There are two local restaurants that still serve some food this way and I always ask to hold the tray and put my food on an old-fashioned plate.
Over the weekend, I was alerted via Twitter of an article from the UK about a restaurant that was fined for serving food on wooden plates after a party of 14 got food poisoning. The article shows pictures of the wooden plates with cracks and deep scores – things that I have seen on the wooden plates used by local restaurants here in South Florida!
— Birmingham Updates (@BhamUpdates) January 5, 2018
While a chef or restaurant manager may feel presenting things like pizza or steak on a wooden board is visually appealing, if they are not cleaned, sanitized and monitored for signs of wear or cracks, these things are an open invitation for Montezuma’s Revenge.
I don’t like asking “is this served on a real plate or something fancy” when I order food, but as restaurants begin to migrate from China to wood or other non-traditional plates, my stomach requires me to.
If I get food on anything but a plate, I usually ask for it to be re-plated.
Yes, I’m that guy, even though I know moving it from the board to a plate doesn’t make it immune from the bacteria that existed on the board when it was placed there originally. But it gives me peace of mind and a mental note for next time.
I’m not quite sure when we got away from serving food that tastes great on a regular plate to food that tastes average but looks like Picasso plated it, but it’s time to get back to basics.