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Narrative nonfiction

Pack a Lunch

Six years later, in the backseat of a cab, I’m finding out that my stomach was subject to “lab rat-type” experiments while in university. You finally graduate from mushy high-school cafeteria food to a varied selection of self-indulgent fast food in university thinking, “Whoo! One of the perks to getting older!” Meanwhile, naïve and unsuspecting of the fact that the older you get the more willing people are to rip you off.

So there I am making small talk with my cabby. He asks me where I went to school, “I went to York University”. He proceeds to ask me if I’d ever eaten at an Italian inspired restaurant in the heart of the campus plaza. I answered that I’d gone there a couple of times, but that I preferred going to a little self-serve fruit and vegetable bar where they charged you based on weight (throw in a hard-boiled egg and you were paying $15 for a salad). You could also build your own sandwiches and smoothies. Loved that place, until one day the lady making my sandwich stuck a piece of cheese with a dead fly on my pumpernickel bread slice. When I pointed it out to her, she simply took the Havarti slice off and continued constructing my tainted lunch. I DIDN’T WANT IT ANYMORE!

I digress…turns out the gentlemen driving my limo cab, was the previous owner of the Italian joint. He and his business partner sold the place for a whopping $400, 000 to an older woman (whom I remember from my years at York and who is still there today). He taught her everything she knows…except how to cut costs. Apparently, this she has managed to come up with all by herself. For example, she will buy rotted vegetables at half the price and cut off the bad bits. She will buy mouldy cakes and scoop off the top layers. And finally, the Alfredo sauce doesn’t exactly have cream in it…

He emphasized, “THAT isn’t even the worst of it”. What’s that saying…ignorance is bliss? I’m sitting there horrified, trying to calculate how many times I’d eaten there and what exactly it was that I ate. Moral of the story: next time you walk into a quaint, privately-owned eatery to grab a quick bite, do yourself a favour and look for this…

City of Toronto Pass Notice

…and make sure the “pass” box is checked because sometimes this sign is posted but “conditional pass” is checked off. What the heck does that even mean? That they “kind of, sort of” passed? That they wash their dishes sometimes, but not always? It should be a “pass” or a “no pass”, none of this in between nonsense. I want clean food, on clean dishes! Know what, to avoid all confusion (and possibly hundreds of bucks a year) I’m just going to pack my own lunch.

Happy eating, folks!



About Little Miss Spanglish

Bright-eyed dreamer, set in her ways... enjoys working-out to slow jams. Hates being called by her full name by people close to her. Has never had a pet, yet has names picked out for her future fish, cat and Teacup pig (name of future dog still in the works). Loves receiving handwritten letters in the mail (long, handwritten messages in thoughtfully picked out cards also result in a smile). Will stare in disdain at her plate if it is inhabited by: brown rice, asparagus or beets (coming around on the beets). Finds skipping-down-a-sidewalk to be a lost art in adults... refuses to let that happen to her.


One thought on “Pack a Lunch

  1. A “conditional pass” was sometimes issued to the Sobeys I worked at. When I asked why, they said it was because we had rats in the back room (and honestly, it’s almost impossible not to; when the loading docks are opened at night for trucks to back up, rats run in from outside), but there was no evidence of them out on the floor, where customers are walking, or can see them. That’s not so bad, but I’m kind of worried about what it might mean for a restaurant. I’m not sure what would qualify, but I don’t think rats in a kitchen would ever get a pass of any sort. Oh! When I worked at Fortinos, my manager would cut the moldy/bad bits off of salami (I’m talking about a couple of inches worth of rotted meat, by the way) and tell us to serve it anyway, because “it’s not like you like the customers, anyway, so just serve them shit.” And she would scrape all the moldy toppings off of the unbaked pizzas, and reuse the crust.

    Posted by Liz Vona | January 3, 2012, 2:48 am

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