Alcohol Kills Brain Cells (and Cooties)

03/29/2006 12:00 AM |

Between the bird flu and the new mad cow outbreaks, people seem skittish about the animalcules that are entering their systems. While I don’t want to take away from the panic, it seems to me that some people are barking up the wrong tree, microbial-worries-wise. Perhaps you’ve heard that a few weeks ago the Health Department put the kibosh on sous vide food preparation. For those of you rummies too broke to eat anything pricier than El Fresco Tortilla Two Taco, sous vide is when a French guy vacuum seals your food into a bag and cooks it at low temperature for a longer time than usual. It’s a revolutionary method that allows chefs to overcharge you even on inexpensive items like boiled carrots.

But the Health Department doesn’t like the idea that these famous, well-trained chefs are cooking their foodstuffs at slightly lower temperatures than is strictly recommended. Seems a little reactionary to me, but if some yuppies’ sous vide buzz is harshed until the right guy gets paid off, well, so be it. Thanks for being extra-cautious, Health Department.

Except here’s the thing: do you remember that girl a few months back who found out that fast food joints in her town had more bacteria in their ice than in their toilet water? And you know how fast food places, while not exactly immaculate, at least look kind of ok in the back where the food is prepared? Now think about some of the bars that you frequent, and their relative cleanliness. Yeah. They wash the glasses in that grody little sink, and dunk their hands in that same vat of ice all night long. Ick, right? So it’s kind of amazing to me that some places can pass their inspections, given the contentiousness of our Health Department.

What’s the dirtiest place you can think of? Holiday Cocktail Lounge? They scored a 19. (Anywhere from zero to 28 is passing.) So despite the fact that their first listed violation is “general,” Holiday passes the white glove test. Continental? 26. CBGB? A squeaky-clean 5. Rudy’s passes with a 20, despite those dirty-water dogs. I guess the rationale is that alcohol will kill the germs. I know that is most certainly what I will be telling myself from now on. If you can’t trust a filthy dive bar not to give you food poisoning, who can you trust?