CLOSE
Original image
iStock

An English Plastic Surgeon Wants Avocados to Come With a Warning Label

Original image
iStock

Avocados are loaded with healthy fats, but the fashionable fruits pose a serious health hazard for home chefs: As Konbini reports, emergency rooms in England are seeing an increase in knife-related hand injuries, all from people trying to prepare avocados. Surgeons chalk the phenomenon up to the food’s fairly recent trendiness and have coined a nickname, "avocado hand," for these types of wounds.

No official stats exist just yet, but according to The Times of London, a multitude of avocado-related accidents have led to "serious nerve and tendon injuries, requiring intricate surgery." Some patients have even lost function in their injured appendages.

On this side of the pond, according to The New York Times, "the United States [doesn’t] track kitchen injuries by ingredient," so it’s hard to know for sure how many people are being injured while prepping the fruit. That said, one Mental Floss editor is all too familiar with the dangers of avocados: "My boyfriend once sliced open his finger trying to pit an avocado," she says. "A lot of blood and a trip to Urgent Care later and he still can't bend the finger fully."

Things have gotten so out of, uh, hand in England's ER rooms that the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons is now cautioning avocado lovers about the safety risk. One noted plastic surgeon, Simon Eccles, even says the fruits need warning labels.

"It needs to be recognizable," Eccles—who treats an average of four patients a week for avocado-related accidents—tells The Times. "Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?"

Avocados are tricky to prep, thanks to their oval shapes, hard pits, and buttery texture. But to peel them, all one needs is a butter knife, or even a spoon—and judging from a bevy of gruesome ER pictures, many home chefs get knife-happy, and use sharp blades to slice and dice the food.

In short, choosing a sharp or serrated blade to cut a slippery, oblong fruit is definitely an avocadon't. Some advice: Steer clear of the chef knives the next time you’re in the mood for avocado toast, and opt for a blunt tool. Your hands (and wallet—ER trips are expensive) will thank you.

[h/t Konbini]

Original image
Courtesy New District
arrow
Food
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
Original image
Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

Original image
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
arrow
Food
A Brief History of the Pickleback Shot
Original image
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's sour. It's briny. For some, it's nauseating. For others, a godsend.

It's the pickleback shot, an unusual combination of drinking whiskey and pickle brine that has quickly become a bartending staple. Case in point? Kelly Lewis, manager of New York City's popular Crocodile Lounge, estimates she sells at least 100 pickleback shots every week.

Pickleback loyalists may swear by it, but how did this peculiar pairing make its way into cocktail culture? On today's National Pickle Day, we hit the liquor history books to find out.

PICKLEBACK HISTORY, AS WE KNOW IT

As internet legend has it, Reggie Cunningham, a former employee of Brooklyn dive bar Bushwick Country Club, invented the shot in March 2006. He was half bartending, half nursing a hangover with McClure's pickles, when a customer challenged him to join her in doing a shot of Old Crow bourbon whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As he nostalgically tells YouTube channel Awesome Dreams, "the rest is history."

Cunningham went on to introduce the pairing to more and more customers, and the demand grew so much that he decided to charge an extra dollar per shot, just for the addition of pickle brine. After that, the mixture spread like wildfire, with bars across the world from New York to California and China to Amsterdam adding "pickleback" to their menus.

THE PICKLEBACK'S UNCLEAR ORIGIN

Two shot glasses topped with small pickles.

Neil Conway, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sure, Cunningham may have named it the pickleback shot, but after reviewing mixed reports, it appears pickle juice as a chaser is hardly novel. In Texas, for example, pickle brine was paired with tequila well before Cunningham's discovery, according to Men’s Journal. And in Russia, pickles have long been used to follow vodka shots, according to an NPR report on traditional Russian cuisine.

Unfortunately, no true, Britannica-approved record of the pickleback's origin exists, like so many do for other popular drinks, from the Manhattan to the Gin Rickey; it's internet hearsay—and in this case, Cunningham's tale is on top.

SO, WHY PICKLES?

Not sold yet? Sure, a pickle's most common companion is a sandwich, but the salty snack and its brine have terrific taste-masking powers.

"People who don't like the taste of whiskey love taking picklebacks because they completely cut the taste, which makes the shots very easy to drink," Lewis told Mental Floss. "Plus, they add a bit of salt, which blends nicely with the smooth flavor of Jameson."

Beyond taste masking, pickle juice is also a commonly used hangover cure, with the idea being that the salty brine will replenish electrolytes and reduce cramping. In fact, after a famed NFL "pickle juice game" in 2000, during which the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in 109 degree weather (with the Eagles crediting their trainer for recommending they drink the sour juice throughout the game), studies have seemed to confirm that drinks with a vinegary base like pickle juice can help reduce or relieve muscle cramping.

WAYS TO PARTAKE

While core pickleback ingredients always involve, well, pickles, each bar tends to have a signature style. For example, Lewis swears by Crocodile Lounge's mix of pickle brine and Jameson; it pairs perfectly with the bar's free savory pizza served with each drink.

For Cunningham, the "Pickleback OG," it's Old Crow and brine from McClure's pickles. And on the more daring side, rather than doing a chaser shot of pickle juice, Café Sam of Pittsburgh mixes jalapeños, homemade pickle juice, and gin together for a "hot and sour martini."

If pickles and whiskey aren't up your alley, you can still get in on the pickle-liquor movement with one of the newer adaptations, including a "beet pickleback" or—gulp!—the pickled-egg and Jägermeister shot, also known as an Eggermeister.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios