Sunday, November 20, 2005

Does the body rule the mind,

Or does the mind rule the body...I Dunno. Still Ill, The Smiths

So I am in the bar the other day and a woman comes in and sidles on up to the bar, solo. 40ish, low cut blouse, big hair, potential for a nice tip in my mind. It has been my experience that anyone who shows up single in a restauarant and sits at the bar is more than looking to eat. It could be something very simple, such as conversation from the bartender or a neighbor at the bar. It could also range the gamut. Straight up propositions, hidden inuendoes and "let's take this elsewhere" happen in the bar all the time. Most often I am the silent witness to it, and I have even on occasion been a participant (though NOT anymore, obviously.) This woman appeared to be the former. Chatty, not flirty, drank a top-shelf margarita, ordered an app, and the small Filet cooked medium with a Caeser salad, and wanted Fettucini as her side. She appeared to be the perfect customer to have, patiently waiting through each course, eating nearly every bite. She finishes the top-shelf, I offer her another and she intimates that the water that she already has is plenty, and politely declines. The filet and fettucini arrive, and she begins to eat these. As she is eating, I turn my back on her and she disappears! I look around for her for a minute then half shrug it off. She appears at the side of the bar a moment later tears welling in her eyes, napkin over her mouth. She mumbles very quickly that she is heading for the bathroom, and that there is a hair in her pasta. She posts the napkin over her mouth defending the floor from the arriving vomit and runs for the ladies room apparently for a second time. I rush to inspect the pasta, but can't see anything. No problem at all in my mind, remove the pasta, take it immediately to the brightly lit kitchen for a recook/inspection. Lo and behold, mixed in with the alfredo and parsley is what appears to be upon "casual" observation a very long, semi-curled eye-lash. I am guessing that in the dining room it "could" have appeared to have been a pubic hair. It was very thick and full, but too short in my estimation to be a pube. It looked very much like an eyelash, and this lady had some long ones. Regardless of what was there, it was what she "thought" that would be important. The manager and I sat back and awaited her arrival, fresh bowl of pasta being prepared. She never showed back up. Eventually the manager (a female) went to the restroom to look for her, and found that she had "un-assed the AO" (in Army infantry terms) a while ago. This begs the question...Where the fuck did she think that she was? We ARE a restaurant, and to a very limited extent, you are putting your life in my hands if you eat with me. Do you truust that the saute chef has washed his frying pans before cooking your shrimp? Are you sure that the fresh veggies that you are consuming on your salad weren't cut on the same cutting board as the raw chicken? (We have several diffreent colored cutting boards, one for each meat/veggie.) There has to be a certain amount of trust involved in order for you to eat in a restaurant. Recently I was making a trip to my sisters house in Ft. Lauderdale and on a whim decided to use I-75 and stop in Fort Myers, Fla, for the dumbest of reasons (unless you are from Boston/New Englan): The Red Sox had their spring training there. We stopped for a "snack" in a bar just off the main road. Get some chicken wings, drink a few sodas, head on the last leg of our long drive. I entered the bar, we were seated, and as I looked around, it was a very nice welcome to Fort Myers, Shamrocks and Red Sox pennants, and World Series posters, memorabilia were all over. I breathed in a nice slice of Red Sox heaven, imagining buying Big Papi a beer in a bar like that. Then I went to the bathroom. I will spare you the gory details, but someone had the severe "trots' and weren't neat. After attempting to use the bathroom, I was desperate to wash my hands, but as I turned on the faucet, I noticed that it wasn't attatched to the sink, and the water rinsing my soapy hands was just running onto the floor/my feet. Now a normal sane person would have left the bar running. Honestly, the last time I saw a toilet in that kind of condition, I was at a gas station in Dhahab, Egypt. As I went back into the atmosphere and saw Teddy Ballgame's picture, a picture of Yaz with his 1967 MVP award, Luis Tiant, and Johnny Damon, I decided to roll the dice. Hell, how can you ruin chicken wings. Lucky for me, the baseball dieties were smiling, and we safely consumed a snack as we continued our voyage. Thing is, what do we know about food-borne illness?

Salmonella? Listeria? The simplest facts that you can say is something like this:

In the United States
In the United States, for 76 million foodborne illnesses (26,000 cases for 100,000 inhab.):
325,000 were hospitalized (111 per 100,000 inhab.);
5,000 people died (1.7 per 100,000 inhab.).
Food safety and foodborne illness, WHO

In France
In France, for 750,000 cases (1,210 per 100,000 inhab.):
70,000 people consulted in the emergency department of an hospital (113 per 100,000 inhab.);
113,000 people were hospitalized (24 per 100,000 inhab.);
400 people died (0.1 per 100,000 inhab.).

One thing that they never show is guess where most of these illnesses started? That's right, in the home. Of course I am not saying that restaurants don't keep that chicken an extra day than the policy allows, or that fish special that seems so cheap probably is cheap for a reason, and only those with a strong constitution should order it. I will say, though, that we have lime greem cutting boards that only veggies are chopped on, white for beef, pink for chicken, and all of that. There is one side of the prep kitchen that is used for cold prep, another for cooking, and another area to butcher the meat (all done in house.) We follow the industry standard of HACCP and do it with a vengance. The only item that that isn't directly to the trash can at the end of the night that was anywhere near to being cooked is the prime rib. The prime rib that was cooked rare today is tomorrows well-done. Take that as a warning if you may, but meat that is cooked to 160 degrees can't carry any bacteria that could harm us anyways.

I just wonder if this lady was trying to get out of paying her bill? Was she really that genuinely sick at the sight of what was very likely her own eyelash? I can't imagine that reaction.

Then again, I can remember being at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA and having to "eat tactically" and getting a hot meal that wasn't a tray ration or MRE for the first time in over a week. We would approach the mermite cans one soldier at a time, which were spaced 20 meters apart with our tray, and the KP slug would give us some veggies, and then at the next can a big lump of steaming Army mashed potatoes, and then at the next can, out came the chicken leg and thigh, oven roasted, juice dripping, and onto my tray it went. We walked our hot meals and desserts into the trench line that we were defending (we were playing OPFOR) and began hungrily consuming the hot meal. Somewhere around the second bite, I dropped my whole chicken leg into the sand. Now, should I walk back over there and see if there just happened to be an extra? Should I bust out my canteen with potable water and just rinse it off? What is the S.O.P.? Guess what I did? Yup.

Funny thing was that after Index (the end of the "tactical situation") and all the AAR's, I found out that it happened to quite a few people! Their cake, their chicken all sorts of stuff found themselves rinsed or brushed off and consumed. Damn Army, teasing us with hot meals and flimsy ass recycled cardbard trays that disintegrated when the first milliliter of moisture hits it!


At Wed Nov 23, 03:23:00 AM, Blogger Desultory Girl said...

Okay, that's triflin' what that lady did.

And I'm never worried about how my foods gonna turn out. I eat steak medium rare and as far as I know I've never suffered from food poisoning. I did however remember hearing that you can tell the cleanliness of a restaraunt by how there bathrooms look. Do you believe this is true as well? Or is it a looks can be decieving thing.

I will say that I'm sure I'll find the SOP for something like that sometime soon. That totally sucks. But you got to eat so what else can you do, but make the best of what you got.

At Wed Nov 23, 11:45:00 PM, Blogger waltoncad said...

Yeah, and I have always had a strong constitution, so good for me. Medium rare steaks is usually a good sign that the waiter will appreciate you. We mostly loathe the customer who comes in and asks for the filet, butterflied, well-done, with A-1. "Can I just sell you my belt for half price?" would be the prefferred response, but being service industry sycophants that we are, we often don't say what we want.

Oh, and if I went by bathrooms, OI would have run out of that place in Fort Myers...Luckily Alli said the ladies room was clean, so we ended up risking it. Normally I have heard that yes, via the restaurant's bathrom, you can judge. In our case, we aren't fancy enough to merit an attendant, but have enough power to have a hostess, a busser, and a manger checking the place out constantly, realizing that we are often judged by just that standard...

At Fri Nov 25, 10:31:00 PM, Blogger AlliCadem said...

I miss you, Dude.

Anyhow, coming to your site and reading.... Anthony Bourdain was the one to say that a kitchen is hard to clean and a bathroom is easy to clean. If the bathroom looks like shit (no pun intended), it's most likely that the kitchen is even worse....

I'd rather not think about it.

But I'll think about YOU, Mr. Cad. I adore you and missed you today. It was a "good zoo day."

At Mon Nov 28, 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Liz said...

I have a friend who's step-mom wretches even if someone at the table says the word "Booger" (No kidding, I've seen it.)

Must be a girly-girl weak constitution thing.


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