Liquid nitrogen, the instant wart-removing, class="caps">CPU cooling, cryogenic liquid that expands into gas at ratio of 1-to-694 in room temperature environments has now been linked with an unexpected gastrectomy (stomach removal) of a young woman near Lancaster, England, last week.
On her 18th birthday, Gabby Scanlon’s stomach had to be href="http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/concerns-rise-over-liquid-nitrogen-following-cocktail-accident-181719454.html">removed by doctors that said if they hadn’t, she would’ve probably bitten the dust. Of all the awful scenarios I’ve heard, this one tops charts for worst birthday nightmares come to life. While Gabby’s incident has adequately spooked the Lancaster wine bar she was drinking at into 86’ing nitrogen cocktails from its menu, it strikes me as terribly odd that such a horrific consequence of the seemingly harmless additive could have made it by until now.
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Check out that fogger!
Produced industrially, the liquid state of nitrogen has been popularized in cocktail mixtures for a long time. It’s like having a personal fog machine for your cocktail or a miniature version of a kitschy backyard-fountain at a porno mansion. Insatiable partygoers are taken and taken by the rounds of a drinks that can one up the next table in dazzle and spectacle. (I can’t help but remember how special I felt making flaming Dr. Peppers with my cousin and downing them on fire to a point of near black-out in front of family on Christmas eve.) But tricks like these have been in the kitchen for ages.
Liquid nitrogen has been utilized the kitchen since at least 1894, when Mrs. Agnes B. Marshall published href="http://viceland-assets-cdn.vice.com/viceblog/81632447FANCYICES.jpeg">Fancy Ices, a recipe book that covered its use in desserts. Today its use is popularized by mixologists and bleach-tipped bartenders across the globe. As long as you use the right precautions, liquid nitrogen is pretty safe to use. But anyone who’s worked in a kitchen or bar knows that safety isn’t always the top priority.
Perhaps it’s the exciting novelty of using special effects that has food service staff often overlooking safety standards. I mean, when was the last time you saw a badass chef wear protective goggles while torching up a crème brûlée? As for the liquid nitrogen, a professor href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19870668">commented on the BBC’s story that the liquid ought to be totally evaporated from anything food or drink before it is served. So maybe the bartender didn’t warn Scanlon about letting the liquid nitrogen dissipate, or perhaps it was birthday exuberance. In either case, after href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kmo1loKqADk">flaming shots gone wrong and this, I’ve yet to run out of reasons not to drink.