Thursday, February 07, 2008

Double Dipping Chips

Piece in the paper a few days back about double-dipping chips into the communal guacamole bowl. What this means is, you dip your Dorito (there's a nice phrase to use as a euphemism sometime) into the bowl, take a bite, then dip it again. The question is, does so doing spread germs? Is there enough of a spit-swap so that it's like a Seinfeld routine, might as well shove your face into the bowl and blow bubbles ... ?

Turns out that the test-tube boys go with the germ theory. You essentially inoculate the dip, and the warmer it is, the faster the bugs grow. Long party, if there's still any of the melted cheese left after midnight and you eat it, you might as well let everybody in the room cough into your face.

I bring this up because I am usually fairly cavalier about party food and salad bars, which latter at least have sneeze-guards. But the folks at the event I attended last night put on a good spread, fruits, cookies, bread, cheese, meats, and several warming trays of chip and cracker dips. Seated toward the back, I was close to what started out as cheese fondue. Big pot, alcohol burner under it, a serving spoon. Hour or so into my stint as book-guy, I saw woman arrive at the fondue pot. She lifted the glass lid, stuck the serving spoon into the stuff, lifted it to her nose and sniffed it.

Okay, not so bad, at least the air flow was mostly away from the spoon, right?

Then she tasted it. Decided she didn't like it, and put the spoon back into the stuff.

Put the spoon back into the stuff ...

Yeah, at home, I drink from the same glass or double-dip chips and my wife and I risk each other's colds, but that's part of the married deal.

I would have had to have been really hungry at that point to try the party fondue. Really hungry. Sure, she looked okay, but ...

I considered removing the pot, or putting a sign on it, but I also watched people paw the cookies, and sort through the bread and crackers, so it was a lost cause. Guy sneezes, wipes his nose, then inspects the carrot sticks ...

Fortunately, the human digestive system can take a lot of abuse without seizing up -- most of the time. We don't have to eat sterile food, and the acid below decks kills a lot of bacteria. Most of the time. Some E. coli drink stomach acid and thrive. And if you haven't ever had the Tijuana Two-step, consider yourself blessed.

Funny thing was, as the gathering wound down, a couple of people came over, one of whom I knew, and an older guy I didn't know. I told the story. As I was doing so, the older guy opened the lid and began spooning the mostly-curdled fondue onto a saucer. My friend looked at him: "What, are you not listening?"

"Ah, doesn't bother me," the guy said. "I've lived this long and I'm older than you."

Don't ever let anybody tell you that fiction is stranger than truth ...

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