Teapots and Onions

So, how well do you know the people you work with? Do you know about their families?

Our company, Frieda’s is kind of like a big family. With less than 100 employees, some who have been with us 20 years or more, I have gotten to meet and know the family members of many of my coworkers.

I’m not exactly sure the first time I met Joan, the wife of Steve, one of the produce buyers for Frieda’s. Joan is a fascinating person. She is a professor at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, as well as an accomplished ceramics sculptor.

In 2003, the collection of The Artful Teapots (a gallery of 260 20th century contemporary teapots) was on exhibit at our local Long Beach Museum of Art. Coincidentally, they were focused on women artists, and our company decided to be a small sponsor of the exhibit and hosted a reception. Because one of Joan’s teapots was a part of the exhibit, we asked her to speak on behalf of the family at the reception.

Teapots, you’re thinking? Well here are photos of some of her creations!

Pretty amazing teapots, right?

Ever since that exhibit 8 years ago, I have received many emails from Joan and we see each other occasionally.

So earlier this week, Joan sent me an email with a question:

Karen, this internet article has been passed around regarding onions and mayonnaise and is false according to Snopes.com, but it triggered this inquiry to you. I read your blog with great interest and was wondering if you could give pointers on how to prevent food poisoning during these hot days.

Well first of all, if I knew how to prevent food poisoning, I would feel like a hero. But I can offer this basic advice.

First of all, wash all your produce before cutting it and of course before consuming it. This includes whole melons, as the pebbly skin can harbor all kinds of things, and unpeeled bananas — after all, they are from the jungle.

And probably more importantly, wash your own hands with warm soapy water before prepping the food. According to information I have read, many instances of food poisoning are actually caused by cross-contamination. For example, preparing meats on a cutting board or with your hands, and then touching fresh produce. If you are prepping meats or seafood, be sure to wash the cutting boards, bowls, knives and your own hands with warm soapy water, before making a salad, or cutting up fruits and veggies. And be mindful of your sponges and dish towels, too.

(And for summer grilling, I prefer not to skewer raw meat and veggies together. I do them on separate skewers so there’s no chance of cross-contamination.)

Second, don’t leave food out “all afternoon” when you are dining outdoors. When it’s hot, and there are flies everywhere, I just wouldn’t take a chance. If you are picnicking, bring an insulated chest with you to store foods (with ice). If you are entertaining at home, keep the appropriate food refrigerated until it’s time to serve it. And after everyone eats, put the food back in the refrigerator.

Third, when you get an email from a friend with information that is warning you of a danger, or one that says something like “cinnamon can cure Alzheimer’s” or other information that looks too amazing to be true, do yourself a favor and research it on Snopes.com or TruthOrFiction.com before you decide to forward it on to your entire mailing list. My experience is that 99 out of 100 times, the information is either partially true or not based on fact at all. Save yourself the embarrassment, and do not forward that email.

So, Joan, thank you for your question and keep creating those amazing ceramics!


P.S. The small world continues! I recently found out that Joan’s college roommate, Judy, was the daughter of Sybil Henderson, who created the first recipes for Frieda’s Specialty Produce. It pays to get to know who you work with!