If we are what we eat and if you eat out regularly at restaurants, you are likely full of gas, acids, toxins and poisons.
Badly seasoned meat, spiced up stale food, loads of MSG, too many peppers to disguise bad tastes, butter and fat to thicken the food and lend it taste, instant food passed off as fresh, zero ingredient control, and more such wickedness are part and parcel of the restaurant trade.
We spoke to a couple of cooks (Chandigarh-based) on the condition of anonymity and have the following facts to report (note: this may be true of most hotels, there may be exceptions, but I’m sure you will be able to separate the good from the bad):
- Luxury hotels offer bread baskets to customers with every meal. Customers usually do not finish all of it. Guess what happens to the remaining? It gets passed on despite getting exposed to air/contaminants. If you’re eating from a bread basket you may be flushing some bad old bacteria into your gut.
- Have you seen the staff washrooms in regular hotels? Please do. I bet you’ll come across a small space with a beaten down door that smells as putrid as a rotting carcass, and it does not have a working flush to get rid of the unholy mess that is staring at you in the face.
On emerging from this Dante’s hell, you will feverantly hunt for a wash basin either to puke or wash your face and hands. Don’t tell me there ain’t one, or if there’s one, it doesn’t have running water!
Now, can you figure out the average hygiene level of the cooks and attendants who have to use this stinkhole many times daily?
- Avoid seafood in landlocked areas such as Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula, Delhi, etc. The restaurants buy their fish from agencies that do not use recommended logistics (frozen transport). If they were to use quality sources of supply, the hotels would have to pay the price of an atomic bomb and charge you the price of a nuclear one. So, stay away from fish even if it is labelled as “Special Amritsari Fish.”
Chicken and lamb are usually preferred in landlocked areas and therefore your fish may have rotted some more before it’s cooked and served to your majesty.
And remember, prawns and mussels usually rot in their own piss and feces and must be cleaned thoroughly by expert hands. With our luck, the waiter would have cleaned them softly with paper tissues which is why you and I get inflamed intestines every time we pig out on fishy dishes.
- Never ever eat out on holidays like Dusshera, Christmas, Baisakhi, etc. These are the days when restaurants get humongous traffic and the kitchen crew just cannot handle the rush. To please the waiting customers, the kitchen folks literally dump stuff to make the food taste good — butter, MSG, soda, you name it. These can kill your appetite, cause gastro diseases and generally screw the hell out of your intestines and rectum.
- Are you sure that the cloth that is used to clean your tables is washed often? The cooks I spoke to stated that their “rags” were used to clean tables, chairs, and more, and were not washed daily. That means there’s restaurant bacteria crawling all over inside and outside of you after every visit.
- Of course, the waiters clean the water glasses regularly. But do they also regularly clean the pitchers that hold the water? Not as often as the glasses. So if you’ve gotten a pitcher full of contaminants, say goodbye to good times for a brief while.
Speaking of water, most hotels buy their water from private suppliers who transfort H2O in iron tankers. Did you smell the rust, huh? Know where that water comes from? Who knows, maybe from a fungus-infested tank.
More on water — does your hotel own a RO water filter? Is it well maintained? Are its candles replaced at least once every year? I am not sure, but the chefs I interviewed were laughing when asked about regular candle replacement. [Also Read: How to make fresh chocolate sauce at home that tastes like Hershey’s]
- Don’t lunch on the brunch, no matter how tempting the offer may be. Luxury hotels sell brunches on Sundays when their primary chefs are resting. The brunches are made by lesser chefs and their apprentices — from the leftovers of Friday and Saturday. Avoid. Please.
- Buffets? Don’t go near them. First off, the food is mass cooked. Second it is placed in containers that have a fire lit underneath, ostensibly to keep the food warm. Apart from the over cooking and overheating, the fire beneath the container burns the food that is at the bottom while the food at the top remains unheated and becomes a breeding and entertainment fiesta for bacteria and toxins.
Buffets are pure poison. If you are still desperate for a buffet, eat it early (lunch by 12 PM and dinner by 7 PM). And remember that you usually get low quality and fatty stuff at buffets. Avoid meat if you want your stomach to stay healthy.
- Avoid meat, especially gravies. That’s because the meat is first cooked and kept ready — because if it isn’t, it will take a long time to cook fresh meat and serve. Some restaurants refrigerate the cooked food, which is good. However, most restaurants just cover it with a steel/aluminum cover without refrigerating it.
When you place the order, the already-cooked meat is reheated. You’re lucky if the food was refrigerated. If it wasn’t know that vile bacteria grows in all perishable foods within two hours unless they are refrigerated. Plain and simple — meat gravies, and even tandoor-ed meat can wreck havoc inside your tummy.
Moreover, hotels negotiate very heavily with the meat suppliers. Do you think the meat supplier is an idiot who’ll supply the hotel with prime cuts after all the haggling? No way. The meat you eat is probably all “sheet”.
- Avoid sauce. Flies feats themselves on the hole of the pole that pours out the sauce. Do you really want to dip your food into that filth?
- If you walk into a restaurant during closing hours, all you’ll get are leftovers. To get something decent, visit the place at least 2 hours before close because any organized kitchen takes about 90 minutes to wrap things up.
- Here’s one neat trick to figure out if the restaurant is high quality. Check the staff/waiters. Is their uniform clean? Are they well groomed (cut nails, combed hair, groomed beard, etc.)? Are they polite and well-mannered? If they do not fulfill any one condition, walk away — because a good restaurant always employs well-groomed staff.
- Most restaurant kitchens are typically messy. Objects and insects can get into food, rats and cockroaches may be scurrying around, the kitchen is full of chaos, and hygiene best practices are given a go-by. The cook and his assistants may be preparing the food in their underpants for all you know, because they want to lessen the stove heat and scratch when it itches.
- Finally, the food you eat contains colours (to make it look so awesome) and additives to make it taste awesome. Did you know that many food additives are made out of paper-mill or petroleum waste? Do you know how many times the oil was re-fried when your order for a fried dish was processed? Do you know that luxury hotels often use meat tenderizers to make the meat easy to eat, and that such commercial tenderizers contain loads of MSG and sodium?
Long story short, artificial food colours and additives can cause any disease — from indigestion to high blood pressure to cancer. That’s how bad it is.
You visit a restaurant despite being aware of the fact that the hotel owners grease the food department’s palm to keep their license going. You know they pay bribes because they are not conforming to standards.
Why in the world would you ever want to eat out in a place that does not meet quality standards. Why do you want to eat stale or filthy food full of colours and additives that could ruin your health? Why not stick to freshly-made home food?
If after reading this nasty piece you still remain an ardent restaurant fan, then you want your stomach to become a gutter for leftovers, contaminants, harmful bacteria, toxins and bad food. Gesundheit.
(Note: We were not allowed by restaurants to shoot inside their kitchens and we had to borrow pictures from the Internet. Therefore, none of the pictures on this page are directly related to this article. However, the information on this page is authentic, having been obtained by 2 chefs.)
[Fun Read: Bigg Boss, Brain Sauce]
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