Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Check, Please

Because I am the kind of person who likes to spend her free moments retching onto her desk, I've spent the better part of this morning looking up Department of Health inspection ratings for every restaurant I've ever eaten at in New York. Actually, to be fair, the restaurants I eat at most frequently were pretty clean. The worst offender scored thirteen points (the city's average, and far below the 27 you need for re-inspection) for having waiters with insufficient personal hygiene, and, really, I knew that by looking at them. A Dunkin' Donuts not far from my house from which I did, once upon a time, purchase and then consume a shit ton of donuts had a frightening number of violations--enough to put me off my strawberry frosted with sprinkles for a little while.

They make it hard to get to, but the very worst restaurant in New York in terms of health code violations was an epicurean delight on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. The Department of Health shut down poor Danny and Pepper Jerk Express in March, but not before reporting an enticing ratatouille of rats, mice, flies, roaches, and improper sewage drainage.

Surprisingly, there were no McDonaldses or Burger Kings on the list of violators. You're much better off eating a Whopper off the floor there than eating at half the restaurants in LaGuardia Airport. Or anywhere with "Mr." in the name. Or at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where their milk is expired.

Other offenders on the list were the kind of restaurant you wouldn't want to eat in based on name alone. Would you order a ham on rye from Belly Delly Deli? Even if they washed their hands? How about the Chewy Deli, Inc.? Head out for a beer, alone and vulnerable, to the Remote Sports Bar? Have a nice, romantic dinner at Golden Sac? How about a pepperoni slice from Pizza con Vitamins?

I'm not sure why I care, or if I even do. It's unlikely I'd stop eating at any of the restaurants I eat at now, even if I did find out that my croutons were transported to my salad on the thoraxes of giant ants. In fact, I don't even know how much faith I put in the results at all, considering the fact that a restaurant where I watched roaches scamper playfully on the ceiling above my head (as they took away my plate after I finished eating) wasn't cited at all.

I was actually pretty excited to find a few places I'd eaten on the naughty list, because it makes me feel like a gastrointestinal strongman with bowels of steel. Take that, airport Au Bon Pain! Your improperly refrigerated cheese danish cannot strike me down!

When you spend all day researching whether or not someone's close-up photo of severe impetigo (I dare you to Google image search that) is original, it's important to take your tiny, stupid adventures as they come. Even if it's with a side of E.coli.

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