Towels vs Mittens for Pot Holders

My wife usually asks why I use a couple of thick terrycloth kitchen towles, or bar mops, for grabbing and holding hot pots and pans instead of the big oven mitts.

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I’m afraid the reason is rather icky. This is a cautionary tale for all of you still working in a restaurant or other institution where a lot of people use the same oven mitts.

When I started as the Chef at Pour Aurtur’s in Grand Rapids, MI they were using big elbow length oven mitts. When they were done they would set them on top of the oven so they would be handy next time they needed them. Up there they stayed nice and warm and a little bit damp from sweaty cooks or freshly washed hands.

I never gave it another thought till one day I as I was getting out of the shower at home I noticed my hands were rather itchy between the fingers. I didn’t think much of it and made the flippant remake to my wife that I was getting “athletes hand”. We laughed and laughed.

Unfortunately it got worse, I began to get “athletes arm pit” and worst of all ” athletes crotch”. I told you it was going to be icky.

The thing about it that was really weird was that the itching was accompanied by red lines running out from the crotch of my fingers, the crotch arm pits, and the crotch of my crotch. By this time the itching was almost constant.

So off to the doctor I went with great trepidation. I thought they where going to name a some horrible new disease after me. “Bennet’s Itchy Malady” or “Bennet’s Curse From Hell”. Let me tell you, by the time I went to the doctor I was going insane from the constant itching.

In the doctor’s office he took one look at it and said a word that I learned to hate, scabies.

According to the CDC Scabies are:

Human scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.

Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body contact is frequent. Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks.

My wife looked at my with the “what tramp have you been sleeping with?” look and I began to panic. I had been 100% faithful to my wife so I quickly asked, “how could I have got this horrible affliction?” He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a chef. He then asked if we used oven mitts to handle hot pans. I said that I had recently start in a kitchen that did. He said to throw them out and gave me a prescription or some lotion.

Apparently the oven mitts where the perfect incubator for the scabies. Every time we used the oven mitts  it was like sticking your hand into Club Med for scabies.

The next day at work  I threw out every single oven mit in the place and from that point on I use only kitchen towls to handle hot pans.

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So all of you who are still working in kitchens that use oven mitts, do yourself a favor. Use bar mops instead. For those of you who are cooking at home you should be ok.

If you need some just follow the Bar Mop link..

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