Under the Skin

Here's another question I've received multiple times in recent weeks:

Is it true that almost all restaurants have some level of pest infestation?

According to multiple customers I've served, yes. In fact, we had one particular customer that claimed that her pizza was covered in cockroach legs. What this lady didn't realize is that when pineapple and cheese cook together the sticky moisture causes individual strands of mozzarella to stick together and burn. Forming what looks like little follicles of hair, or as she saw it, cockroach legs. 

This is how paranoid people are these days. Instead of taking a more skeptical or common sense approach, people just seem to jump straight to the conclusion that cooks are constantly going rogue with a pair of tweezers and a 7th graders framed bug display. This particular customer could have just sat back and asked herself, "Why would there be a dozen cockroach legs on my pizza with nary a body to be found?" But instead of attempting to rationalize the situation by realizing that we're probably not  a bunch of sociopaths with a fetish for insect mutilation, she opted to think that we took some sort of sick pleasure in dismembering our cohabitants by ritualistically spreading their appendages out on our pizzas like we were adding a premium topping to our already pretty extensive menu. What the hell's wrong with customers out there? Do people just imagine that we have the Hunchback of Notre Dame's learning disabled twin maliciously topping pies in an attempt to poison the general populace? I can tell you right now, we're probably not going to go that route because that's generally not a surefire way to ensure long term job security. This slight problem makes for a tiny conflict of sorts. You see, most employees, no matter how pissed off or peabrained, would rather grind through a shift than cause chaos by fondling the phalanges of flying cockroaches. Plotting really isn't in our relatively unproductive repertoire.  Waking and baking is just a bit more in our work adversed wheelhouse.

I've been in the food business for over ten years now and have never seen any sort of food related tampering. And even if some sort of molestation did occur, it wouldn't be the dissection of a creature that the University of California claims is the most feared insect in the world. Seriously, do you really think that someone that gets paid minimum wage to toss moist ham on some overzealous yeast while high on reefer is going to have the balls to set up their own insect version of Auschwitz? I can tell you right now that my minimum wage brethren and I almost all universally fear true manual labor, so why would that fear not extend to a creature that spreads over 33 different kinds of bacteria that includes E.Coli and Salmonella? As much as I like punishing the clientele that keeps me employed, I enjoy avoiding dysentery and blood poisoning much more than removing the legs from the thorax of a creature that I scream when I see.

Honestly, the grossest chitin covered creature I've witnessed in any of the stores that I've ever been associated with are flies and moths. So, essentially, a colorless butterfly and a conniving bug that makes its way through the door when employees take their smoke break out back. This means we've only had the occasional insect related intruder. None of which wanted anything to do with the pizzas that are meant for our patrons. You know how I know that our pizzas remained pest free? Because I was an oven tender for nearly a decade. I cut nearly a quarter of a million pizzas. And let me tell you, there's not a lot of canvas to cover when you're doing the cutting. 12 to 16 inches of space is small enough to be able to identify the wriggling of any invasive object, especially an insect.

I'm not necessarily saying that all places are safe and sanitary to eat at, but generally you can rest easy if an establishment has an 'A' from the Health Department. Anything less and I wouldn't be so sure. If you're curious, the best way to ensure that what you're eating is unmolested just go to Foodsafetynews.com. They'll break down why a business scored what they scored down to the very last health related infraction. They'll even detail the results of the violations, no matter how minor or massive. Now, I'm not guaranteeing 100% accuracy, but I'd say that the site is generally more credible than the crackheads that are suffering from Delusional Parasitosis (hallucinates bugs) and routinely feel like taking a junky filled journey to the forums of Facebook. Generally.