Because my job involves preparing and serving food for public consumption, and also supervising kitchen volunteers, I am required to obtain something called Servsafe Certification. This means that my employer will not be fined by the County Health Department, and that I will (continue to) avoid killing anyone with food poisoning, e coli, salmonella, botulism or through transmission of my own, personal Typhoid. The Servsafe course is designed for anyone who might possibly be working in a kitchen; this would tend to include many folks who have not graduated from high school. I am fairly confident that I can absorb the information and pass the test. I even begin with the relative advantages of knowing things like “hot food should stay hot,” “cold food should stay cold,” and the ideal internal temperature of various cooked meats.
I cannot bear the idea of sitting in a classroom for sixteen hours while someone tells me things about food safety, undoubtedly with the aid of Power points and handouts featuring diagrams of food-borne pathogens, so I am taking the online version of the course. I learn well that way; I’ve passed bar exams in two states based on Bar-Prep reading materials, and if Servsafe is harder than the bar, well, that would actually tend to confirm my darkest thoughts about the intellectual abilities of my fellow lawyers. If you think this is a ridiculous proposition, consider Congress.
So I can’t really imagine what will fill sixteen hours of food safety curriculum. I envision a lesson followed by a “self test,” sort of like “Think and Do” phonics books in the seventies. The questions might be like this:
23. After preparing food, it is important to wash
a) Your nose
b) Your hands
c) Your sous chef’s hands
d) Your sins away in the tide
I will renew my understanding of the critical importance of wearing gloves when serving (which I hate), wearing a hair net (which I refuse to do), restraining myself and others who wish for nothing so much as the opportunity to sneeze repeatedly into the cheesy potatoes…you get the idea. I probably have a bad attitude. I will remind myself that in the end I get tangible rewards: a wafer thin certificate to post in the kitchen, the certain knowledge that I will not be fired (for failing to obtain certification, anyway) and the glow that comes from having spent sixteen hours at my desk looking at cartoon figures realizing that their pork is underdone. If you need me, I’ll be right here with a cup of coffee, my reading glasses, and my (immaculately clean) fingers on the keyboard. I bet Julia Child never had to do this.