Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pico de Gallo makes you sick

Or blame it on the Mexicans, as usual. Apparently, there are about 1000 reported cases of Salmonella in the US, the worst epidemic in years, and they are linked to either raw tomatoes, jalapeño or serrano peppers and cilantro. Guess what? They're the three key ingredients in pico de gallo, or salsa mexicana as it is actually called in Mexico (plus onion). I smell right-wing conspiracy. But given this diet, I bet most of the poor sick people must be Mexicans too. How many gringos eat cilantro?
They are blaming serrano peppers too, because according to some gringos, they are hard to distinguish from jalapeños. No, they are not. Jalapeños are bigger and plumper. Serranos are small and thinner and their taste is crisper. They have more bite. But both are deep green, like the color in the Mexican flag. Come to think of it, I think the flag is the color of pico de gallo and not the other way around.
In any case, I ate all of the culprits this week. I served guacamole with raw cilantro and raw tomato and raw serrano peppers to my guests. So far, no one has complained. I made a fabulous corn chowder with cilantro and roasted serrano pepper, with the leftover greens. I've been having the runs, mind you, but that is because I ate an evil tuna burger at a fancy schmancy restaurant for brunch. Serves me right.
Bottom line is, during the sweltering Summer we must be careful with what we eat outside, because in the heat things rot faster.
And what I love about this blog is that I can share my stomach predicaments, and those of the nation with you, patient readers. If not with you, with whom?

p. s.a bit of gross out info, courtesy of Web Md:

What causes salmonellosis?

You can get salmonellosis by eating food contaminated with salmonella. This can happen in the following ways:

  • Food may be contaminated during food processing or food handling.
  • Food may become contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler. A frequent cause is a food handler who does not wash his or her hands with soap after using the bathroom.
  • Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea. You can become infected if you do not wash your hands after contact with these feces. OY.
  • Reptiles, baby chicks and ducklings, and small rodents such as hamsters are particularly likely to carry salmonella. You should always wash your hands immediately after handling one of these animals, even if the animal is healthy. Adults should also be careful that children wash their hands after handling reptiles, baby chicks or ducklings, or small rodents. OY VEY.

Beef, poultry, milk, and eggs are most often infected with salmonella. However, vegetables may also be contaminated. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. They develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. However, diarrhea and dehydration may be so severe that it is necessary to go to the hospital. Older adults, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are at highest risk.



  1. Actually Lou Dobbs Tonight -who else!?!?!- was associating Mexican food and tortillas to the salmonela crisis.

    They went back and forth about the open borders thing and how boi terrorism is a clear and present danger.


  2. I'm not surprised. That man is like a broadcast version of the KKK.
    He should be made into a taco de carnitas.
    I checked out your blog, very interesting. Thanks for writing!