I've always wanted to be a vegetarian, but there's one thing that stands in my way:

I eat meat.

I can't help it.

But there's one meat that I don't eat much of, and that's pork. Why do I not eat much pork, you ask?

Well ... it's because I'm afraid of it.

Cured pork, like bacon and ham, doesn't bother me. It's the pork chops mostly. I don't know what past  event inadvertantly touched off my porcine paranoia - maybe it was the food handlers' class I had to take when I was eighteen? - but whatever happened, it has proved effective: I am ridiculously, excessively nervous about getting food poisoning from it.

I can't explain my hysteria. It doesn't extend to other uncooked meats - I could practically lick a piece of raw chicken without flinching (I said practically), and rock a meat dress like Lady Gaga.

Photo credit: Reuters. With a little help from my mad photo-editing skillz.

But you should see me cook pork chops. Open package, wash hands.  Prepare chops, careful not to touch pan, wash hands. Dry hands with specially-appointed pork towel. Leave towel and pork-handling utensils far away from other, non-pork-contaminated surfaces. Rinse eyeballs with sterile saline solution after looking at raw pork chops (okay, just kidding, but I swear I feel that insane about it sometimes). OMG, did I just touch the pork towel? Wash hands. OMG. Did I lay that clean fork next to the pork fork? Wash fork. ... And hands. Cook pork chops until they're practically burnt, removing them from pan no fewer than six times to cut into them and decide they're not done enough. Apply heavy-duty lotion to poor chapped, overwashed hands.

Don't get me wrong, I think pork chops are tasty - but from the second the very first bite passes my lips, I'm like super-attuned to the goings-on of my digestive system. Even the tiniest gurgle leaves me wondering if it's the start of an epic heave-fest. For hours after eating pork, I worry that food poisoning will strike me down. I watch my kids like a hawk for fear that I've accidentally poisoned them, too. I fearfully envision the disastrous consequences of an entire sickness-stricken family, with me too ill myself to properly care for everyone. It's like picturing the apocalypse, y'all. Let me rephrase that: the aporkalypse.   

Curtis does not share my neurosis. He is brazenly unafraid of undercooked chops. It drives me a little bit crazy, in fact, because he'll come up as I'm testing one for doneness and shovel half of it into his mouth. "It's done," he'll say, even though I could've sworn I saw the teeniest hint of pink inside (or was that due to the kitchen lighting?).

Thus far, throughout the nearly thirteen years I've been cooking meals for Curtis and myself and whoever else happens to be at our family table, I've never sickened anyone. But you can bet that - even as I smile and take a bite of the picture-perfect pork chop I've just prepared - I'm secretly agonizing over a food-poisoning epidemic that hasn't even happened.

Are you "weird" about any foods?


  1. I love food. period. so, no. BUT.. I love you in that meat dress!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA! When I used to work at a steak house people would actually order big fat pork steaks rare. ewwww. I am actually WAY more freaked out about chicken, sometimes I think I can taste the salmonella. I still cant get over you in the meat dress.

  2. Pork doesn't bother me too much. It's chicken, in fact, I refuse to make it b/c I'm terrified it won't get thoroughly cooked or I'll somehow infect something and not completely clean it. In general, I hate touching meat but I deal.

  3. I cannot eat any meat that is still attached to the bone. Because gnawing meat off a bone is just... gross.

  4. I'm porkanoid, too! But not for food poisoning issues - I think/feel/believe/whatever that chicken is more likely to cause problems and I always cook to a certain temp to make sure it's really done (but not overdone cause who likes overcooked anything?)

    Anywho...I'm porkanoid, so much so I won't even buy the danged chops, which are hubbies fave - because in spite of being "the other white meat" there's just way too much fat in pork to consider it "lean meat". If I'm gonna go for fat and not good for me, let it be beef. Otherwise, chicken or fish.

    Now...pulled pork...that's a different story. Or bacon wrapped vegetables. Or even ham....

    Just don't make me do chops!

  5. I'm weird about the pre-packaged puddings. Yeah...I know...but I got bad food poisoning from it once and ended up in the ER for several hours. It was bad...I won't touch the stuff. I have NO problem with meats, though.

  6. I don't have a problem with any food that I can think of. Maybe I just don't cook enough to freak out over things.

  7. I can't think of any foods I have a problem with, but maybe it's because I don't cook enough.
    ...Maybe a bad piece of pork once gave you a pork-induced case of POCD (Pork-Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)?

  8. all this pork talk is making me want to chow down on some BACON!

    i am like you when cooking pork chops. same thing w/chicken. i like a some pink in the beef department, but NOT in the pork or chicken arena!

    i am also a freak about expiration dates on food. i check dates on food CONSTANTLY. i cannot stand the thought of eating anything expired. or of cutting mold off of cheese. the horror! never! eee!

  9. Oh Rita... I am weird about food in dozens of ways. Your pork paranoia is me except with chicken. I can't eat food off the bone because then I can, like, see it's carcass. Ew. Perhaps weirdest of all... I can't eat leftovers. It disgusts me. As soon as food hits the fridge I can imagine zillions of little mold and bacteria spores slowly colonizing on the food. It's just completely gross. The saddest part is that Jonah now has the same weirdo thing about leftovers as I do. I try really hard to cook just enough for the two of us because I feel guilty about tossing food (but not guilty enough to actually consume it in reheated form).

  10. LOL at the one thing that stands in the way of being a vegetarian. Cracking me up.

    I think pork chops are pretty disgusting. I like them cooked but raw make me nervous, too. I also have a major distrust of ham and bacon. As in, I don't eat them.

  11. I can't remember any pork-induced trauma you might have endured as a child. In fact, when all you kids were still at home and the older ones were teens, I usually fixed about 18 pork chops at a time. And I don't recall anyone ever being sick afterwards. Can't imagine where that came from, but I'm glad you're brave enough to cook them anyway! :o)

  12. I can totally relate to what you just wrote, except I am paranoid over Chicken. I mean I am really cautious over all meat but when Chicken is cooking I am clearing everyone out of the room until it is fully cooked. I don't want my son's hands anywhere near the counter top in fear he will be instantly sick. And I go through about 1/2 bottle of soap from washing my hands in the process, no joke.

  13. my first question is basically, why do you keep making pork chops? if I was as freaked out by them as you are, I would never ever cook them at all. I guess that is my only question since I can't think of another one.

    I am very similar in approach to cooking chicken. handling raw chicken completely freaks me out, and I will only handle it as little as needed, dumping it from package into whatever pan I'm using without touching it if possible. I can also only cook chicken in some very strong smelling sauce, because the smell of chicken cooking makes me sick, and if I smell it cooking (as opposed to smelling barbecue sauce or enchilada spices for example), then I can't eat it. I also tend to cook the shit out of it because if it is even slightly soft I think it is still raw and I can't eat it. So basically, I prepare a lot of chicken that I will never eat because the cooking of it has made me nauseated, and when I do eat it, it is heavily sauced and fairly dried out. So yes, I guess you could say I have a problem with chicken.

  14. Part of the reason I'm a vegetarian is because meat carries too many filthy things with it. I no longer have to worry about contaminated towels, counters and cutting boards:) However, I do freak out about expiration dates. I eye them like a hawk. I even write the date I opened things like my rice milk or applesauce--once it's past the "good for 10 days after opening" window, it's in the trash. Jeff thinks I'm crazy. But at least I'm not puking out of my ass from eating rotten food;) I also examine baked goods/bread before I consume them. Thoroughly. I don't do mold.


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