Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

Where does salmonella come from? Salmon? No, my simple friend, salmonella comes from reptiles. And raw chicken. But the culprit in this latest US outbreak is… wait for it… salsa! That’s right: tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro, serrano — they’re crawling with the nasty bacterium. At least that’s the latest suspect in about 1,200 cases in 43 states since April. But last week state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler deemed North Carolina peppers to be safe, and the tomatoes were cleared for consumption in June. The land has been generous this year, as evidenced by a surplus of potatoes at the Braswell Farm in Stokesdale. Farmer Braswell has donated the land’s bounty — the bumper potato crop — for the Reidsville Outreach Center and the Servant Center in Greensboro. Volunteer spud pickers for the potato gleaning will need to sign a liability waiver and be prepared to get dirty at 6 a.m. Saturday. E mail for more information. The same day at 11 a.m., the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market sees the General Greene Car Show, featuring scores of old-timey roadsters and a hot rod or two. Admission is free, which leaves some money for ice cream. Also on Saturday, the Women’s Resource Center hosts the 7th annual Men Can Cook, a charity event with dishes from 450 volunteers — each one 100 percent man — a silent auction and a pro chef cook-off. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center, and here’s a way to justify the $40 ticket: I will be there, very likely with a crock of my infamous white chili in tow. There are no tomatoes in my infamous white chili recipe, by the way. For color and flavor I rely on red peppers, diced as fine as crushed ice and cooked down in broth until they’re mushy and aromatic. Red peppers, by the way, are crazy expensive… like two bucks each. Can anyone tell me why this is? Related: The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that Kraft Foods, Kellogg’s, ConAgra, Sara Lee and Tyson all plan price hikes in their core products over the next couple months. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a lot of dough to eat well in the North Carolina Triad. In season right now: green beans, butter beans, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peaches, field peas, peppers, potatoes, squash, tomatoes and watermelon. Find them at a farmers market near you. One more: You can’t buy raw milk in North Carolina for human consumption — it’s okay for pets and livestock, though, and, of course, breast-fed baby humans. And a growing number of humans believe raw cow’s milk has salubrious properties. The state Board of Agriculture, in a move to save these humans from the temptation of unpasteurized dairy, decreed that all raw milk be dyed gray. So, you know, it wouldn’t look so yummy. But last month the House Health Committee backed a bill — introduced by Rep. Pricey Harrison (D- Guilford) — that would deem warning labels to be sufficient. Because animals don’t want to drink gray milk either.