The world of the teenage cooks

Two separate stories in the news today link teenagers and cooked meat. Has that ever happened before?

First, the Associated Press reports, teenagers in South Dakota are being taught how to cook — and develop a taste for — bison:

One of more than 30 students from the Flandreau Indian School to take part in cooking workshops with bison as the main ingredient, Blackbird said he now knows how to whip up his own dishes with bison, which has less fat and fewer calories than beef.

“I make basic stuff: tacos, enchiladas, spaghetti, lasagna,” Blackbird said.

SDSU researchers want other teenagers to follow Blackbird’s lead, creating a market within the tribe for the next 40 to 50 years and changing the way members think about the animal.

The second unrelated story, however, offers this warning: Don’t make bison kabobs, or any other kabob, apparently.

NPR’s food blog is carrying the story of 29 teenagers in Minnesota, who got sick after they hunted, processed and cooked white-tailed deer, as part of an an outdoor recreation and environmental science class. The problem? They made kabobs:

Unusual as this tale sounds, it carries a food safety lesson for those of us who have not once butchered a deer for homework. The epidemiologists who investigated the outbreak think the teens may have been more likely to be infected with E. coli because they cooked the venison as kabobs.

“One of the risk factors was consuming undercooked meat, or if they reported the interior of the venison kabob being pink,” Josh Rounds, an epidemiologist who investigated the outbreak for the Minnesota Department of Health, told The Salt. “We theorize that piercing the meat with the kabob skewer would be a way to introduce bacteria from the exterior of the meat to the interior.”

The incident happened last November, but is being reported as a case study this month in a medical journal.

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