Culinary Sagacity

~Thought for Food~

The Cathayans believed that the soul or mind is located not in the head but in the stomach.

Doubtless this explains why they fret so much about the preparation and serving of food.

It may also explain why their memories are so much better than ours.

Information is stored not in the finite head, but in the expandable stomach.

--Cyrus Spitama in Gore Vidal's Creation

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Looking Forward to Letter Grades at NYC Restaurants

Four years ago when David Bouley poisoned his patrons with carbon monoxide because he didn't have any detectors in his restaurant, patrons literally passed out in their plates of fine food. Workers and patrons alike had to be rushed to the hospital and the EMTs evacuated the place as soon as they showed up, leaving the dining room full of half eaten dishes overnight. But that didn't shut the place down. Nor did it's D and F grades from the health department, several actually.

I think New Yorkers would be astonished if they knew the actual grades of some of the finest restaurants in the city. Fortunately, they're about to find out.

I strongly support the mandatory posting of health inspection grades at all the city's restaurants. My home town of LA has been doing it for years and guess what, you'll rarely find an establishment with less than a B because people just won't patronize a C, let alone a D. Now I know that you can lose points for silly things that don't actually pose any health risk, like leaving an ice cream scoop in a receptacle of hot water or having the fridge one degree too high. But other point losers, like rat feces on a counter top, dangerous bacteria found in the lettuce, or the lack of carbon monoxide detectors, do pose health risks.

Overall, to my mind, this is a good thing. The coming of health grades could only be loathed by those who have failed repeatedly to get an A or B, and, well, we don't really want to eat in those places now, do we?

Currently, if you go to the website for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the guys who are responsible for inspecting restaurants, they do have a page where we're supposed to be able to look up the inspection results of any restaurant in NYC. Oddly, when I've gone to this page over the past few weeks, it never seems to work properly, and I can never get the results I'm seeking, yet another reason for these places to have to post their grades.  Give it a try yourself, let me know if you got it to work!

NYC Health Department Restaurant Inspection Results