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NOBourbon
03-25-2010, 07:07
Many years ago I started the practice of sippin' some bourbon while eating my raw oysters. The presumption is that some nice strong bourbon in the stomach before, some sips during, and a nice splash after would help kill any of the bad stuff that MIGHT be on/in the oysters (like vibrio).

Well..... on a past trip to China I where I was being served some raw seafood I was told by the locals to drink Baijiu (Chinese white liquor about 50% ABV) before, during and after. Who am I to argue with ancient Chinese tradition.

Works for me. Anyone else use this method? I have heard that this is one of the reasons Japanese drink Saki with sushi/sashimi.

BTW, I also use preventive bourbon for mental health on certain days.... ;-)

cowdery
03-25-2010, 09:19
I have operated under the same logic myself but I'm not sure how sound it is. On the other hand, it couldn't hurt.

Hawg73
03-25-2010, 10:01
I'm not sure the alcohol would kill anything that your stomach acids wouldn't. But, I must agree it still sounds like a great strategy!

ILLfarmboy
03-25-2010, 10:11
I'm pretty sure I have read about the protective nature of consuming alcohol with a meal. I don't think it works like a vacination of sorts, but it will offer a scant bit of protection.

I remember a meal of fried turtle a few years back that may have went over better with some bourbon.


NOBourbon, was the seafood you were served in China, saltwater species or freshwater? As a general rule, saltwater varieties are safer to eat raw than freshwater.

When eating anything raw or questionable, I always avoid drinking to much (non-alcoholic beverages, anyhow). You don't want to raise the PH of your stomach by gulping water or ice tea, or so goes my reasoning....

NOBourbon
03-25-2010, 12:05
NOBourbon, was the seafood you were served in China, saltwater species or freshwater? As a general rule, saltwater varieties are safer to eat raw than freshwater.

On my last trips to China all of the seafood is farm raised. I've mostly been around the Pearl River Delta, which is so polluted that I'm not sure I'd eat anything out of it. That's not to say the farm raised stuff is better. Some it it is just plain nasty.


When eating anything raw or questionable, I always avoid drinking to much (non-alcoholic beverages, anyhow). You don't want to raise the PH of your stomach by gulping water or ice tea, or so goes my reasoning....

Excellent logic. And figures right into my post since I drink the bourbon neat (i.e. very little volume).

ErichPryde
03-25-2010, 12:42
I'm not sure the alcohol would kill anything that your stomach acids wouldn't. But, I must agree it still sounds like a great strategy!


Alcohol is a poison, and has no basic or acidic (pH) value. Your stomach is a strong acid, and although it definitely tears things apart via a chemical reaction, it very well may not be able to kill some bacteria that alcohol could.

Bacteria can't survive in 3 point beer. If you had a couple of shots of 40% bourbon, I'm not sure what the total percent of alcohol by volume would be in your stomach and how quickly the alcohol would get digested, but it would certainly be killing something.

ILLfarmboy
03-25-2010, 15:16
Bacteria can't survive in 3 point beer..

Bacteria are only one danger. Parasites are often the things that can make you deathly sick.

Though I probably shouldn't have because of the risk of trichinosis, I've eaten very rare bear. No, I don't mean an endangered species, I mean black and bleu or Pittsburgh rare, but I wouldn't be against eatin' the very last polar bear. :p

RamblinWreck007
03-25-2010, 15:16
Sounds like you enjoyed bourbon-flavored oysters. Personally, I would think that bourbon would overpower their delicate flavor.

nblair
03-25-2010, 15:35
Sounds like you enjoyed bourbon-flavored oysters. Personally, I would think that bourbon would overpower their delicate flavor.

I'm pretty sure the pound of raw horseradish and half bottle of tabasco I use overpowers their delicate flavor already. More reason to have bourbon next time! :grin:

NOBourbon
03-25-2010, 16:25
Sounds like you enjoyed bourbon-flavored oysters. Personally, I would think that bourbon would overpower their delicate flavor.

If you've ever pulled a sack of oysters from the frigid Louisiana bayous in high salinity season you'd know that after the first dozen you would have achieved zen with the ocean. The taste of the briny sea and delicate flesh of the plump oyster would be far more pronounced than the last sip of bourbon (oh, the sacrilege on a bourbon site).

By the time you reached your third dozen you, the oysters and bourbon would be one, in harmony, expressing the ultimate feng shui. :grin:

jburlowski
03-25-2010, 16:39
I remember a meal of fried turtle a few years back that may have went over better with some bourbon.



Or perhaps without the fried turtle...:lol:

Josh
03-25-2010, 16:43
By the time you reached your third dozen you, the oysters and bourbon would be one, in harmony, expressing the ultimate feng shui. :grin:

I could eat oysters till les vaches come home, but around here, that would cost you nearly as much as a bottle of ORVW 10/107.:bigeyes:

ACDetroit
03-25-2010, 16:55
By the time you reached your third dozen you, the oysters and bourbon would be one, in harmony, expressing the ultimate feng shui. :grin:

Or maybe you would experience ultimate haiku :lol:

extra aged bourbon

fresh oysters on the half shell

life's simple pleasures!

Just a thought.

Oh, the sushi bar by my work amazingly, has a great bourbon and scotch collection, must be the way to do things.

Tony

Dramiel McHinson
03-25-2010, 18:43
Preventative Bourbon? I think the only way to prove its effectiveness is to drink it all the time. If nothing takes root in your inward self then it's working. I use high proof bourbon to sip steadily when I have a sore throat first show up. Nine times out of ten the sore throat is gone the next day.

In college while taking a biology class (a very long time ago) I learned that alcohol puts a virus in a kind of suspended animation but doesn't kill it. If the virus comes in contact with the right environment it will reactivate. I guess if you drink enough bourbon the virus will have to sleep it off while you run to the doctor to get some Tamiflu.

WsmataU
03-26-2010, 05:03
Since I don't care for oysters....I'll play contrarian:lol:. I think that sipping bourbon would not be a sufficient amount of alcohol to kill bacteria unless you were really drinking heavily. Our bodies absorb alcohol very quickly, and although your logic (alcohol killing bacteria) is correct, I think the volume necessary would ruin any pleasure. Of course a really bad hangover is still better than food poisoning!:slappin:

Rotgut
03-26-2010, 13:42
Nice, healthy doses of sake and some kind of wine with a meal at a Korean restaurant in China a couple years ago didn't prevent me from getting sick. I was using the same logic, that maybe it would sterilize things somewhat.

There was no raw meat involved (although in retrospect, I think we probably ate some dog. I'll eat just about anything - but eating dog borders on cannibalistic for me). Anyway, there were probably some raw veggies that might've not been washed much (or at all?). That's my best guess at least. I was warned not to eat any raw vegetable from street vendors for this reason, but I tended to let my guard down at restaurants.
Mike

ErichPryde
03-26-2010, 14:09
Nice, healthy doses of sake and some kind of wine with a meal at a Korean restaurant in China a couple years ago didn't prevent me from getting sick. I was using the same logic, that maybe it would sterilize things somewhat.

There was no raw meat involved (although in retrospect, I think we probably ate some dog. I'll eat just about anything - but eating dog borders on cannibalistic for me). Anyway, there were probably some raw veggies that might've not been washed much (or at all?). That's my best guess at least. I was warned not to eat any raw vegetable from street vendors for this reason, but I tended to let my guard down at restaurants.
Mike

If your being sick was caused by unwashed vegetables that had pesticide on them, the bourbon wouldn't have done anything anyway. Although you may very well be right, the amount of protection drinking bourbon or other spirits gives you is probably small.

pepcycle
03-26-2010, 14:42
Its Deja Vu all over again with oysters.

Unless you bring the average temperature inside your stomach to boiling for 8-10 minutes, your not going to kill the bacteria in oysters.
Ixnay on otsauce hay as well.

Sorry.

http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/HealthEducators/ucm085385.htm

ILLfarmboy
03-26-2010, 15:00
If your being sick was caused by unwashed vegetables that had pesticide on them, the bourbon wouldn't have done anything anyway. Although you may very well be right, the amount of protection drinking bourbon or other spirits gives you is probably small.

We normaly think of things like E. coli in conjunction with un-cooked or under-cooked ground meat but unwashed plant foods can contain nasties from the soil that have nothing to do with pesticides, especialy if manure was used as a fertilizer. Natural/organic is not always better.

And as wild as this will sound, both bacteria and parasites are not always a bad thing. Being exposed to such things keeps our immune system healthy.

A goodly number of us who have lived with cats probably carry the Toxoplasma gondii parasite to no ill effect.

I'm not saying anyone should go out and eat raw hamburger that is marked down for emedient sale, but neither should we be overly fastidious about such things, as has become the norm in recent years.

If a little bourbon makes raw dishes a bit safer to eat, then great. If it doesn't, I wouldn't sweat it.

loose proton
03-29-2010, 20:03
keep in mind there are different types of food poisonings. There is some minor anecdotal evidence that larger amounts of alcohol has had some preventative effect for certain types of food poisonings that result from live beasties (e coli, salmanella, shigella) see: http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/HealthIssues/1110384069.html

BUT, most food poisonings are not from still living beasties. Most food poisonings are from toxins produced by once living beasties or from other toxins (pesticides, etc.). Bacteria live in food and produce by-products. The food is cooked and bacteria die, but the toxic by-products remain.

For food safety, the best use of strong alcohol (50%-70%) is anti-septic, rinse hands before cooking and eating. They make cheap stuff for that, please don't use Stagg.

ErichPryde
03-30-2010, 01:05
keep in mind there are different types of food poisonings. There is some minor anecdotal evidence that larger amounts of alcohol has had some preventative effect for certain types of food poisonings that result from live beasties (e coli, salmanella, shigella) see: http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/HealthIssues/1110384069.html

BUT, most food poisonings are not from still living beasties. Most food poisonings are from toxins produced by once living beasties or from other toxins (pesticides, etc.). Bacteria live in food and produce by-products. The food is cooked and bacteria die, but the toxic by-products remain.

For food safety, the best use of strong alcohol (50%-70%) is anti-septic, rinse hands before cooking and eating. They make cheap stuff for that, please don't use Stagg.



Very good points. Although Alcohol very well kill some bacteria and parasites, it will not get rid of the toxin structures they leave behind. Now that you've brought this up, I remember something I read about salmonella in raw eggs....

Stu
03-30-2010, 11:49
In Scotland they pour malt whisky into the oyster shell and you sip it as you suck the oyster out. I've never had them with bourbon, but I bet it will taste as good. Never been to the Mainland (except Hong Kong while it was still under British control), but I've eaten at the grimeiest of noodle stands all over Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, etc. A flight surgeon told me that if the food is boiling and they take the bowl and chopsticks out of boiling water, its safe. So I always picked noodle stands with boiling cauldrons. Side note: what I've always found funny are the people who won't drink the water but have ice in their drinks.

ILLfarmboy
03-30-2010, 13:18
....I remember something I read about salmonella in raw eggs....

I think, statisticly, one in 20,000 eggs are contaminated with some level of salmonella.

That's a half a dozen raw eggs every day for nine years and you would be
guaranteed to have eaten aprox. one that was contaminated.

Also, just how much of the bacteria one has to consume to actualy get sick (or at least more than a tummy ache) depends on the age, constitution and health of the person eating them.

I often eat raw eggs and have eaten fried eggs sunny side up since I was old enough to to tell my Mom that's how I liked them. I've never gotten sick from them.

Every time I've gotten a bit of food poisioning, it was from a buffet (and it was fully cooked) I've eaten a lot of raw stuff, eggs, fish and meat (red meat) included all without ill effect.