What I did. – Gary Young MySpace Blog

I ate lunch.

I noticed the disease spreading vermin right after I ordered and while the other two guys were ordering. I closed the menu, creased it at the seam and then handed it to the waiter.

I know. I know. It was just so awkward that it kind of paralyzed me. I didn’t want to make a scene either, you know, with the other patrons around.

See, I know I should have said something. I told one of my coworkers later that day. I told him that I wasn’t sure what to do at the time and asked him if he would have wanted to know. Of course he said yes and that he would have got up and left.

I had an IM conversation with Tony about this today. I believe that pretty much every restaurant has some kind of infestation. I went to the Afterwords Cafe at Kramerbooks a while back and there were these little flies all over the walls. But wherever you have food stored you’ll find ants, roaches, flies, mice or rats. Especially in the city. Heck. I can’t walk through Adams Morgan without seeing a rat running around the streets. I was at Blues Alley in Georgetown once, standing outside in the rain listening to music, and watched a troupe of rats raid a trash can.

There is no immaculate, sterile restaurant in my opinion. It only seems that way.

Then Tony mentioned that if a health inspector finds a roach or rodent in a restaurant they close it down. That’s true. But when do they inspect? Do they come at night and leave the lights off? That’s when most of the activity is happening.

Besides, you eat a lot more bugs and rodent detritus and fecal matter than you realize. You ever browse through “The Book of Lists”? Here’s an interesting quote. I’m not what the source of this quote is but:

“The U. S. Department of Health publishes a booklet entitled “The Food Defect Action Levels” and lists specifications of “current levels for natural or unavoidable defects in food” for chocolate in the form of “insect, rodent, and other natural contaminants” allowed by the FDA. Tolerance levels for chocolate and chocolate liquor used in the manufacture of such products as Hershey’s chocolate, are up to 120 insect fragments per cup (8 oz) or 2 rodent hairs per cup. That means the Hershey’s chocolate bar you eat may contain one rodent hair and 16 insect parts, and yet carry the FDA’s blessing.”

Oh my gawd! Look at this! “The Food Defect Action Levels”:

Mold, rodent hairs, mammalian excretia, maggots. Oh no. No no no. Anyway, what was I saying. By the way, I was on a romaine hearts kick for a while. Every once in a while. Most of the bag usually goes bad, though, like most fresh foods I buy for myself. But if you buy a bag of fresh romaine hearts, after a few days, little tiny gnat like insects will issue forth which says two things to me:

1. Wash your produce compulsively.

2. There are some kind of insect eggs in the fresh romaine hearts.

Still, they make a very good tortilla proxy. Adds a nice, crisp, low carbohydrate, low calorie sweetness.

Okay. Even after all that, it’s probably best to go some place else after seeing critters at an eating establishment. And I promise, the next time something like this happens I’ll speak up.

You’re safe with me.

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