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Know Your Produce

June 03, 1993

Many of us are concerned about pesticides and worry that other countries use a lot of things banned here. I recently bought asparagus and would never have known it was grown in Mexico if I hadn't seen the carton on the trolley. I have lived in Europe at various times and have always been impressed by the EEC labeling for country of origin. You always knew where your food came from. On one occasion in the south of France, a huge pile of haricots verts was labeled so that we knew it had been sprayed with something. The sign said, "Wash in soapy water, rinse and cook." We did and felt perfectly safe. Is America ready for this? You could make a difference. --MARILYN J. ALTMAN Santa Barbara

Fish Tales For 50 years I've wondered why freshly caught fish seize and what to do about it, and now you have explained it all (School of Fish, May 13). I have asked fish and game people and fish and wildlife and islanders from the Tuamotus to the Caribbean and no one knew or seemed to care. A Hawaiian fisherman on the Kona coast did tell me you had to wait for rigor mortis to set in, but I wasn't quite sure how long that was or how I could tell. A couple of chefs told me you had to flour the fish first, then the heat would be dissolved either in the pan or over the coals. (Sometimes chicken will seize and flouring helps.) From now on when I catch a fish I'm going to wait, but I know that's going to be hard to do. I can see myself lurking around the refrigerator and peering in like some crazed mortician on a tiny perch with pursed lips. Thanks for a really good piece. --BEN MASSELINK Pacific Palisades

Fairfax Favorites I grew up slicing lox and spent my formative years working at my dad's store which was originally called "Delitown" and is now known as "Dave's Cut-Rite Deli" on Fairfax Avenue. Having grown up in the Fairfax area and being a graduate of Fairfax High and having worked on Fairfax Avenue for over 11 years of my life, it was nice to find an article written about the old "avenue" (Cooks Walk, May 20). I still love the chocolate chip Danishes from Diamond and there is nothing like a corned beef sandwich from Canter's. The lessons I learned from the customers from the "old country" are invaluable, and I treasure the memories of growing up and working in this unique atmosphere. My hat is off to you, and by the way, pass the cream cheese. --FRED M. SZKOLNIK Los Angeles

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