07 July 2010

Save your eyeballs. Get kitchen safety glasses.

A couple of months ago, I decided to try out a new recipe I found on the internet for deep fried rice-flour dumplings. The recipe called for rice flour to be mixed with water into a wet paste. The wet paste then had to be made into little balls. Those balls had to be deep fried until golden and crispy. Sounded so easy. And gluten free!

Well, to make a long story short, the recipe didn't go exactly as described in the recipe. But I later learned that the problem I encountered is a nasty possibility and that each year hundreds of people are maimed and sometimes blinded by what I did next:

The rice balls were sticking to the bottom of my pot of hot boiling oil. The recipe said to be careful not to break up the balls because they would come apart in the oil. So I carefully leaned over my pot of oil, leaned my face right into the top of the pot and using a teaspoon, I gingerly tried to dislodge the rice balls from the bottom of the pan. What I didn't know, was that the rice flour had formed an incredibly thick crust around the dumpling...but that the inside was still wet and steamy. So when I moved the balls with my spoon, it caused the steam and/or moisture to escape the balls and make contact with the hot boiling oil. So BAM! Everything exploded. Big time. Like a firecracker of hot oil went off....directly into my face which was looking directly into the pot. So the oil burned my neck, my chin, my cheeks, my face, my eyebrows, my brow, my eyelashes. And my eyelids. And under my eyelids. And into my eyes. I was blinded.

I'll let that image sit with you for a bit.

I won't describe anything more because it still gives me the heebie-jeebies to even think about it. Fast forward a few weeks, and by a miracle that the doctors still can't believe, my eyesight is all okay. The burns all healed up more or less and I only have some very faint scars that are mostly hidden in my eyelid folds. I was lucky, lucky, lucky. Lots of people who experience what I experienced do not come out so lucky.

It got me thinking about safety eyeglasses for cooks. When you think about it, cooking is quite dangerous. Steam, hot oil, bacon grease, all spattering or boiling over at one point or another. Sure, there are oven mitts out there to protect your hands. But there's nothing out there to protect your eyes! I couldn't believe it. So I went looking for a good pair (or two or three) of cooking safety glasses. And I couldn't find any. Nothing specifically made for cooks. Nothing that I could find that is made for the home cook.

I wrote to a few cooking publications to find out if they could recommend any brands. I heard nothing back from them. I tried writing to the Martha Stewart folks to see if she had her own brand, but I couldn't figure out how to contact the appropriate person from their labyrinthine website. I even wrote to the folks at the Jamie Oliver website, who actually got back to me telling me that Jamie Oliver doesn't deep fry his food, and therefore they couldn't offer me any sort of assistance(???!)

With no guidance from the world of celebrity chefs, I grabbed a simple pair of safety glasses from the hardware store. Cost: about 4 euros. So cheap. I couldn't believe that I had never thought about wearing safety glasses while making all of my concoctions in the kitchen.

Well, I wear them now. All the time. If I'm cooking, then I'm wearing my glasses. And that's all I wanted to say on the subject.

Oh, and as for those rice dumplings: after literally scraping their remnants off the ceiling, I lost interest in ever making them again.

And one more thing: the shock from the accident gave me an instant white streak in my hair. Overnight. Just like that. Guess I'll have to update that picture of myself at some point ;-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking the exact same thing while frying food. Makes perfect sense to me!