Saturday, January 10, 2015  
Search By Keyword
Breaking News Alerts
Email Alerts
Email Address
Text Alerts
Mobile Number
 )  - 
Mobile Provider
standard messaging rates apply
Race Relations
Do you think that race relations in the United States will improve in 2015?

Eating Out: Hazardous To My Health
6/18/2014 4:22:22 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

I am really picky when it comes to dining out. I clean my eating utensils with the drinking water or hot water that comes with my beverage order. When I am dining with my son and his friends for the first time, he prepares them for what is to come. He said y’all listen up just don’t pay any attention to my mom because she is going to wash her dishes so just hold onto your plates if you don’t want her washing yours. He said no one goes through this ritual when dining like my mom.

I didn’t just get this way overnight; my obsession with cleanliness was passed down from my mom and I am sure her mom passed it down to her. My mom would have you wash her glass and plate over and over with a little bleach in the water. There were no dishwashers back then. I was the dishwasher and those dishes had to be clean and sparkling. In case uppity class folks don’t know about old practices, bleach was used to sanitize dishes and to hold the line on diseases.

It does work because rarely do I get a cold. I might get some of everything else but not colds. I may have had five colds in my entire life and believe me when I tell you, I have quite a few years in the bank. Y’all can borrow some years if you like. My kids think I am obsessive with cleanliness but I just call it plain ole “old folks” value--cleanliness. My mom had very little to work with but water was inexpensive and plentiful then. So, she made sure we used it.

Am I the only one out there with the cleanliness obsession? I didn’t think so. All of us have our fetishes or things that we nitpick at that gets under the skin of others. For instance, my hubby gets up every morning with the need to exercise his vocals with some crazy gurgling sound. This goes on for about 15 minutes and then he is in the shower and out the door for work. I am sure he doesn’t know that this exercise disturbs my rest and not only that but it drives me up a wall. Over the years, you learn to live with it. That’s just a small thing, don’t you think?

I often think about some of the restaurants where we dine and I have all I can do to sit there and not peek in the back to see what they are doing. So, I just pray they are not in the back dragging my food over the floor. Cleanliness used to be a virtue; now, it is a lifesaving measure in hospitals and schools. Public health officials advocate it everywhere we go because we are in such close quarters with so many people. Most of my friends carry around the little sanitary hand wash to clean their hands before eating or after shaking folks’ hands. So, it looks like my obsession is now catching up with the world’s standards of cleanliness and to keep us safe from diseases.

Y’all know how we are. When we patronize black owned restaurants we hold them to certain standards. We complain that the food is too salty, too greasy or the restaurant is not clean. Well, ya’ll aint use to complain till y’all got dem dere degrees. And some of y’all still pigging out on pig feet, butts meats and collard greens when ya home behind closed doors. So, you think the food is better at those five star restaurants? And, you think the five star restaurants are cleaner? Well, let think again.

I was sitting in one of Charleston’s four star restaurants and a waiter took a broom and swept the table off next to me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Then, my husband reminded me of the real meaning of saying grace before you eat. If the waiter did something like that where clearly the customers could see, what do you think he does when hidden from view? I thank the good Lord that evening that he was not my server and I was through eating.

So, if you think you have problems with salt and grease, what about the dirt and germs you are eating? Notwithstanding the fact, some servers do not wash their hands after using the restroom. And what about the Wait Staff that sweeps around your table while you are eating stirring up all kinds of crap that makes its way into your food? My expectations are the same for all restaurants. Simple, keep it clean!

While many of our schools and colleges have culinary arts programs I wonder how many of them teaches just basic cleanliness habits. Here is one that just stirs up my wrath. How many times have you dined in a restaurant, it can be five stars or no stars, and your waiter continues to pull his pants up while serving you. This is a management problem and should have been dealt with when the waiter was hired. I don’t want the waiter touching his boxer and handing me my food at the same time. And what about cashiers who takes in money and prepares food without washing their hands after handling money?

A few weeks ago, I was at a supermarket deli to get a take-out and the waitress preparing my tray had her nails in my food. Now, I tried to hold back my vexation. I politely asked her to fix me another tray because I could not possibly eat that food having seen her nails in it. Well, she flexed up and said, “don’t you go there with me; my nails weren’t in your food.” I just stood and gazed at her and gazed at the front of the store. She must have been a mind reader because I was about to find the store manager. First of all, what are the standards for food servers? Shouldn’t their nails be short enough to handle food without having them invade your food? And my other question is why didn’t she have gloves on? The servers had on hair nets but no gloves. That’s another one of my pet peeves.

I went to a national chain sandwich shop one day and the young lady started picking up the deli meats with her hands. I said hold up. What are you doing? Aren’t you going to put your gloves on? The other gentleman behind the counter said that is my wife. She just washed her hands. I really didn’t care whose wife she was, she was not fixing my sandwich unless her gloves were on. My son just happened to be with me and he was not going to wait around for the fireworks, so he said that’s alright we will just go somewhere else. I was really hungry. I was thinking why should we have to go somewhere else when food handlers just need to play by the rules and management needs to enforce the rules. Why aren’t workers and management more conscious of bad serving habits? Are y’all with me? Please don’t tell me that I am the only one with this problem. If I am, y’all can sentence me to heavy duty cooking in my own kitchen for the rest of my life.

I just think all food establishments should take whatever measures necessary to ensure that food servers are in compliance with Health Department standards. I know many of the restaurants are hard pressed to find good workers when there are so many eating establishments to compete with; but, it is just good business practice that restaurant managers ensure that their guests leave with a good feeling so they will want to return or recommend the establishment to their friends.

If y’all are food servers and you are out there reading this, do you think you can just keep it clean? We have some very good restaurants in Charleston, so let’s pay our servers more and perhaps, just perhaps we will get better results.

Visitor Comments

Account Login  

  need help?  
Current Conditions
Charleston, SC
Radar & More >>
click ad below for details
Show All Ads