Salad or salmon a literal tossup

The stomach-turning news that cilantro was being harvested in fields of mierda in Mexico should have come as no surprise. As the kids’ book is titled, “Everybody Poops.” If you don’t treat farmworkers like humans you will wind up with, as some site dubbed it, cacamole. Bad enough the pickers aren’t provided portajohns. I doubt there’s much Purell pumping, either.

Circus peanuts, too

Funny how this works: Fearbola subsides after Republicans get elected. But even at the height of the hysteria, I just really could not get terrified when there are so many other things to sweat panic bullets over, like the reality that the server and cook at your local meatball emporium might not be getting sick days. Look what’s happening in Maine, where a science-denying governor refuses to tell people exactly which restaurant put diners on a prospective path to $1,000-a-dose treatment. Every time I pass a certain corner in Chelsea I remember how it took exactly one pizzaiola, back in the days before that word had currency, to infect hundreds of people with hepatitis. The chances of eating mucus off the sidewalk are far lower. And not to mention: If dogs were E-carriers, all five boroughs would have to shut down — that shit is everywhere.

Concrete labor at 30 percent

Thinking some thoughts. Underlining them twice. There must be something really wrong with me. I do not want sick people cooking/serving my food and am very happy NYC now has a law requiring paid leave for restaurant workers (and, of course, others). With all the scaremongering over increased prices, I guess I need to point out that the food biz finds many ways to pass along increased costs. (Try to find a bottle of wine on a list for under $40 these days). As I have noted many times, the sickest I’ve gotten beyond the incident with the baby butt on the falafel counter was after the waiter in Florence wiped his runny nose and set down my plate. FFS, I washed my sauvignon blanc bottle the other day after a cashier with pinkeye merely touched it. So I guess I have to say this one more time: Typhoid Mary was a cook. And Hepatitis C is out there, waiting to shut down your establishment after one worker goes on an unfortunate vacation. It had to be someone like Escoffier who first realized an ounce of prevention is worth 10 pounds of cure. That new miracle remedy, after all, runs a grand a dose.

Keeping your Chi-Chis

Late to this, but I have to say all the restaurant analogies for the rocky start to the exchanges have been pretty amusing. Either the site was as slammed as a Shake Shack or the whole program was hopelessly in the weeds. The reality is somewhere in between: The Health Department finally showed up to try to keep the cooks from spreading Hep A, and it might disrupt service a bit till the customers are covered, too. Too bad safely insured journamalists are all wannabe Yelpsters now.

Horse apple: not just a snack

I can’t say I “liked” the wake-up call of the Hepatitis A in an NYC restaurant. But I was happy to see it at least slightly nudge all those who believe food workers should cover their own health care and be denied sick days. As this outbreak proved, one infected worker will cost an employer 400-plus vaccines for patrons rather than the few needed for prevention’s sake. Might I quote myself, just as a new book is out reminding everyone of the very same thing? Typhoid Mary was a cook.

“Locked herself in the bathroom”

If this country had had universal health care in the early 1900s, Mary Mallon would not have become one of the most famous cooks in history. Apparently we still haven’t learned the lesson. While the wingnuts kick up sand and the rest of the world marvels at the backwardness, the fact remains that without health care even the super-richest remain at risk of typhoid from the meatloaf. Sweet sauce or no sweet sauce.

Mary the cook

“Contagion” was pretty much a waste of our discount coupons and 6 gazillion dollars for  popcorn, but (big-time spoiler alert) the ending could have been even more chilling. Bad enough a chef wipes his mitts on his apron and shakes hands with a patron. Imagine if that hand had been in a glove. Used in a bathroom shortly before it went into a pig’s snout. . . .

Pyramid on a plate

I have mentioned this probably as many times as the government has issued recall notices on spinach/sprouts/scallions, but it was 20 years ago that I actually got an op-ed published in the hometown paper on “which came first — the salmonella or the egg?” And I am now wondering how E. coli could infect Spanish cucumbers badly enough that tourists are dropping like Montezuma flies in Europe right now. Did the salad buffets serve the things unpeeled? Did what a certain travel writer calls “the stinking Germans” not wash either their produce or their hands? I grew up thinking my family was German because of our surname and my parents’ deception, even though my mom never cooked anything sauer. So maybe I’m just ignorant, but the biggest surprise in this deadly outbreak is that Germans eat anything raw. . .

Coffee Kool-Aid, now with alcohol

So many shiny objects are being dangled so frenetically these days it’s hard to choose which one to pounce on, but I guess the sorry reality that the worst president ever is out trying to rewrite history with the help of corporate media is the most offensive. Given his record in allowing 3,000-plus Americans to be slaughtered in the “homeland” while he was asleep at the switch on the “ranch,” this really is like Typhoid Mary having the gall to flog a cookbook.

Big Mac falafel and a side of hepatitis

I never thought I would say this, but I really hope all the union-busting going on in the NYC restaurant world suffers epic fail. I always thought unions protected the weak and thwarted the strong — when I was hired by the NYTimes the first time, at 29 and with no college degree, I got less pay and benefits, because of Guild rules, than all the old gray ghosts with their proper credentials. But more and more we’re really paying the price for Addled Reagan’s fantasy of a disunited America. Airline pilots are living on food stamps and sleeping in lounges before reporting for work transporting hundreds of fellow travelers. Too many people in food service cannot afford to take a sick day, let alone see a doctor when they are oozing in agony, and now restaurateurs want to bust the last bastion of protection for them and us? I understand all the problems of an overprotected work force, but I put in five years on our co-op board and know that if you want to get rid of a lame employee, you can do it. It’s not easy, and it is far from pleasant. But it also makes the other workers better; ebbing tides prove all boats can sink. Whoever takes over Tavern on the Green or Cafe des Artistes could even use a union workforce as a selling point: If a chef spits in your food, you can be sure his/her hawker does not carry a virus. Which is so much more appetizing than having it your way to the ER.

All hands on bacon

Nothing like a little pandemic to push Go Fuck Yourself’s war crimes to the back burner. Shouldn’t someone start torturing swine for information right about now? Only the free-range local kind, of course. The industrial pigs are safely doctored up with antibiotics.