At first thought, you may think this is going to be about the terrible economy, the rise in the cost of living, and maybe me giving you a few tips on how to stretch your budget. Nope, not a chance. I'm as baffled as you. No, this story is in the gross category, not economics. A couple Thursdays ago, I actually put the laptop down *gasp* and turned on the TV. As I was flipping the channels, I saw the previews for a show that was coming up next. It involved lots of screaming, an embarrassed fat guy, rotten food, and cockroaches. Setting: a Mexican restaurant in New York. Behhhh...I just had to watch it!
For those who are addicted to this show like me, you know already which one I'm talking about. For those who don't, it is Kitchen Nightmares, with screaming-abusive-obscenities-F-bomb-dropping-chef-who-always-turns-nice-in-the-end Gordon Ramsay.
So, as I watched him go inspect the filthy kitchen and freak out when he found green chicken and garbage cans full of beans being served to the customer, I couldn't help but start mentally making note of all the restaurants in our town that were not dissimilar.
I not only have a cockroach phobia, but I also have a phobia of dirty kitchens and dirty cooks preparing MY food. We've all heard and passed on the Urban Legends about dirty eateries....for example, the Taco Bell burrito that was filled with something brown, but those weren't beans! You know the stories.
And I guess my phobia of restaurant filth not only goes back to my Super Hygienic OCD mother about cleanliness, but also my first job. People scoffed and laughed and made fun of me, but I truly believe that my super work ethic I've carried with me through each job was because of my first job.
McDonald's. And the McD's that I worked at was spotless. The managers were all Nazi SS guards, and believe you me, if there were no customers, you were not kickin' back sipping a Shamrock Shake, you were cleaning. And if it was already clean, too bad for you, you were cleaning it again. If something as small as a ketchup packet fell onto the floor, you threw it away. You did not under any circumstances put that thing back in the bin, or god forbid, into a sack of outgoing food.
I never once saw a single vermin in that McDonald's. The only vermin there were the managers. And the grill cooks. Because I took my job so seriously, they kept me back on the grill for way too long. Don't the teenage girls usually get mainlined right to the till? I flipped burgers too well. I was stuck with zitty, perverted, nasty guys who thought they were so clever when they said my name and then shot their mayonnaise gun. I was ultra shy back then, a bit naive and didn't know anything about sexual harassment laws.
These pervs are the reason I will order my burgers "without pickles" every time. When the Gestapo wasn't looking, these idiots would launch sliced pickles at each other's faces, pus filled zitty faces, rack up a point for every "stick", then peel it off their faces and put it on a burger going out.
If I want to be technical, McDonald's wasn't actually my very first job. That would be the two days I worked at a disaster of a French restaurant, located in a strip mall, with a screaming owner that would make Chef Ramsay look like a little lamb. Again, I lasted two days. When a plate was coming back into the kitchen to be washed, the owner saw they didn't eat their tomato garnish he had made with his own hands. He screamed and yelled how idiotic those people were, grabbed the tomato off the dirty plate, stuck it on the next plate going out, and then hissed at me, "You didn't see that!!!!" I quit that night.
And now after watching several episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, thanks to http://www.hulu.com/ I can watch them as often as I want to, I have decided that as much as I love to go out to eat, I might have to scale back to just one. Our Greek restaurant, where the owner's kitchen is in plain view, and clean...and he's a friend. I've already had major reservations with two of our many Mexican restaurants, though we eat at them fairly often anyway. One of them is a family run business and Hubby and I went to school with the son, who is now the manager. We sort of feel obligated, plus they make the very best homemade flour tortillas in the world. The rest of the food is sub par. And it has the nickname "El Squirtos" by everyone in town, because most people leave with the Hershey's Squirts. But people still keep going there.
The other Mexican restaurant in question is an overpriced, over popular place in town. I don't care for it at all, but 90% of the town does. It gives me the creeps, this place, and I have heard rumors of roaches and rancid chicken. They were confirmed last week. Our friends went in, sat down, ate some chips and when the waitress came over to take their order, the wife noticed a ROACH crawling up her leg! She screamed and the waitress beat it to death and then said with a snarl, "You brought a cockroach from your house! That is not from here!" My friends were not only insulted, they were disgusted and could not stay.
I've had a nightmare eating experience in a Mexican restaurant...actually situated in Mexico. A few years ago Hubby and I went to Cabo for a few days. We'd eaten well, based on restaurant recommendations from a friend who lived there. But one day, we decided to wing it. And I don't mean chicken wings.
To be continued....for now enjoy watching the grossest Kitchen Nightmare to date in Cassoulet's opinion....