Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why I'm Cutting Down on Eating Out

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....


La Belette Rouge said...

Yet another thing we have in common. I love Gordon Ramsey. I haven't watched the U.S. version of the show. I watched the BBC one and it was a horror show and yet highly entertaining. Your story about McDonald's is so very-very-very bad. I think I have a topper. I had a friend whose girlfriend worked at Subway and this girl loved the tuna salad and the only way she could get herself not to eat it was by spitting into it. She spit into the tuna salad. I know. GROSS. Really, if I think about all this stuff too much I would never go out again.

Cassoulet Cafe said...

SPIT IN THE TUNA SALAD???????????? Like, the tuna salad that went out to the customers?
That. is. so. disgusting....

Ivy said...

You are right about that. However,I always judge a restaurant by how clean their toilets are. If they have clean toilets, then I believe the remaining restaurant is also clean. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

GR is compulsive viewing, and he clealy knows his stuff.

I have a friend who is an environmental health inspector - she does restaurant inspections for a living so, anywhere she is prepared to eat, I am prepared to eat.

I don't go to fast food places, I can't stand them; so far as possible I prefer somewhere where you can see the food being cooked.

Paula said...

I have never watched "Kitchen Nightmares" - I like eating out too much, lol. :)
I love the McDonald's job flashback description. I haven't ever worked in a food place, I stuck with retail when I was younger(equally terrible)!

Cassoulet Cafe said...

I totally agree about the WC cleanliness factor! I won't eat in a restaurant known for filthy toilets.

Yes GR does know his stuff...I just wish he didn't use such foul language so often. I think it's funnier when he calls people donkeys and donuts.

Yes, retail is equally terrible. I worked in retail for a couple years and it is nasty stuff :)

Cris, Artist in Oregon said...

Oh you must share those GOOD places with me. Quite frankly I dont find many places I want to go eat at around here. Never has home cooked food tasted so good. LOL

Tam said...

OOO I love watching this show and yes everytime I am out eating this show is in the forefront of MY MIND! OOO and here in the South Roaches...well just let me tell you that NO matter what you learn to live with them. They are everywhere...YOU see them all over town and trees and everywhere!!!! Trust me. I am such a NUT about those creatures that I have the BUG MAN spray constantly...I have a phobia..he teases gently! LOL

Anonymous said...

Miss Cassoulet, we may have to join you in watching the show...and now I'm reading LBR's appetizing comments on the tuna salad...ewwww!

You see, we almost OCD about dining out. being on the road as much as we were in our previous careers, we just became very paranoid about dining out.

Thanks for sharing.

Le laquet said...

I can't read the whole of this I had to stop at the Burrito - I'll come back when my tummy has settled down again.

We had an interesting moment in a restaurant in Narbonne once when a caterpillar walked out of Simon's salad and the French waiter just looked at it and said "oh a caterpillar ... interesting!" and took it away. Apology? Heck no, this is France!

GR is in big trouble here at the moment as news of a possible long term affair has broken. Did he? Or didn't he?

Vicki said...

YUCK!!! I hate to be reminded of how gross restaurants are. But it's all for the better I know. In Georgia and Alabama (I'm not sure about other states) restaurants have to place their scores in a public viewing area. So if their score isn't satisfactory to you you don't have to eat there. I think in Virginia you could look the score up online.

Hmm, this might just make me reticent to go out anymore...