Although depending on where you live will determine to what extent you experience them, most of us know that there four seasons; and needless to say, everyone has their favorites. For some, it is the invariably cool and crisp “sweater weather” of fall that makes them happy. For others, it is the prospect of winter, with its glistening snow, its abundance of holidays and unique sports and activities that are exclusively its own.
Many others like spring, with its symbolic rebirth, and the opportunity it provides to witness nature coming into its own. Finally, and certainly not least, we have summer, which is arguably the most beloved of all the seasons. And while each season has its own quirks and characteristics all their own, the same too can be said for summer, as there are many iconic signs and symbols that the warm months are at last upon us.
So without looking at a calendar (or rather, assuming you haven’t been) what signs do you see that summer is on its way? For some, it is the simple fact that waking up in the morning isn’t so terrible knowing that you won’t be walking out your front door and into a blizzard. Or perhaps it is the great feeling you get when you walk out of your office after a long day and it isn’t dark outside. Much more love the idea of being able to go out without bringing a bulky winter coat, you know, “just in case.”
However, that isn’t all that the onset of summer brings to mind. For families, it is the counting down of days until school is out and summer break has begun. Then again it could be as simple, and yet, as profound as walking down the street and hearing a lawnmower or smelling fresh-cut grass for the first time that year. Or maybe it is taking your family to the baseball game to help ring in a new season. Regardless of where your head goes when it comes to the summer months, there is a category all of its own that is often associated with just about every other summertime activity – food.
Yes, much like baseball, the beach and fresh-cut grass are all iconic signs of summer, so is BBQ, picnics, and ice-cream. However, anytime you add warm weather, the outdoors and food in the same equation, the potential for trouble is always brewing. So in hopes of helping you make the most out of these all too short and fleeting months of the year, allow us to provide you with 14 of the most dangerous summertime foods.
Few side dishes are as beloved and as iconically summer as the potato salad. And don’t worry, if you see a potato salad sitting on a picnic table, in all likelihood it will be safe to eat; however, there is one instance where this can be dangerous: when the potatoes are baked ahead of time and then stored in foil. Spores of Clostridium botulinum—the group of bacteria that causes botulism—can survive the potato-baking process.
Leaving the cooked potatoes wrapped in foil at room temperature produces perfect conditions for those spores to germinate and grow, and release their deadly toxin. In 1994, an El Paso, Texas Greek restaurant kept baked potatoes at room temperature for several days before using them in a dip; 30 people contracted botulism.
Although botulism is very rare, it is still wise to be prudent and do your diligence before you enjoy any summer time foods.