Cafe Society

Exploding melons and the top five dangerous foods

China has a new crop: exploding watermelons. Apparently Chinese farmers trying to fill an increased market demand for watermelons -- it's backyard barbecue season, after all -- hosed down 115 acres of melons with the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, causing the fruits to randomly combust. The chemical isn't illegal, and it's actually used in the United States on grapes and kiwis, but noob Chinese farmers applied it too late in the growing season -- and that, coupled with heavy rainfall, caused the morphing melons to detonate.

No fatalities have been reported, but I wouldn't want to be the farmer taking a jolly stroll through his watermelon fields when BLAMMO!!! -- there goes a limb. Then again, the culinary world is full of treacherous foods. In the interest of helping you avoid eating your way into a permanent dirt nap, here's our list of the top five dangerous foods.

4. Casu marzu.

Traditionally-made Sardinian sheep's milk cheese processed with live cheese fly larvae which digest the fats in the cheese to accelerate a fermentation process to give the cheese that certain something -- where do you sign up for this trash-can fire, anyway? Actually, no deaths by casu marzu have been reported to date, leaving a niche for some clever-clever to fill by stuffing their gut with worn-infested cheese goo, having a near-death experience, and then hitting the talk-show circuit. Maybe the cheese isn't so bad, anyway. Guys have gone down on Paris Hilton and lived.

3. Rhubarb.

Who knew that Grandma's garden harbors rhubarb, the gastrointestinal barbarian? The stems are fine, but the leaves contain oxalic acid, which taken in large amounts, will sicken you worse than a bottle of Jager and a ten-pack of Taco Bell tacos. It's rumored that WWI soldiers were encouraged to eat rhubarb leaves for supplementary nutrition, after which many of them got a case of the deads. But don't get any homicidal notions: Oxalic poisoning will show up on a toxicology screen, and since we've all seen plenty of CSI shows, it's a foregone conclusion that you will be caught and brought to justice by Mark Harmon.

2. Death cap mushrooms.

Death cap mushrooms, or Amanita phalloides, have cut a trail of slaughter throughout history, allegedly being used to assassinate Pope Clement VII, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, and Roman Emperor Claudius. At first glance it would appear that those crazy cats in ancient Rome really just got their game on by spiking people's spaghetti marinara and then watching them collapse in dramatic choking heaps on the marble floors, but then a grip of folks in the modern era have all gotten their hearse parking permits from mistaking these shrooms for ones that weren't riddled with poisonous toxins.

No nutmeg here.
1. Nutmeg.

What horrible dangers lurk on the pantry shelves or in the kitchen cabinets? Anyone who has attended a public school for any length of time knows that there are plenty of things to try and get high off of around the house. Smoking banana peels and tea bags, and huffing lighter fluid and paint solvent all seem to be rites of passage for teens and tweeners -- like getting that first grope or dropping out of ninth grade. Nutmeg has the chemical properties to get you high via its highly poisonous essential oil, myristicin, but the more likely result is that anyone not burdened with an abundance of brain will snort a few rails and begin to experience flu-like symptoms and hork up their breakfast burritos in stages.

Why bother? It would be easier to buy a crumpled sandwich baggie of Vicodin from a reputable source at Civic Center Park.

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Jenn Wohletz
Contact: Jenn Wohletz