Sunday, May 24, 2009

What health code?

Sara and I went to the Biennial Ceramics Festival in Icheon today and saw many lovely and functional pieces of ceramics.

When we first got to the festival, we went to the outdoor Food Court area, since we were both hungry, and found there only to be one tent with food (it turned out to be the auxiliary food court).

We waited in line for quite a while, watching a little girl pour herself a cup of water from the water cooler and wash her hands with it. She then went back, filled her cup and repeated, enough times to empty the water cooler.

Finally we got to the front of the line. Out of the six items on the menu, one looked good to me. When I ordered, my pronunciation was deplorable and not understood. Sara came to the rescue and then we were notified that they were out of it. On to Sara's order, some sort of octopus and chili sauce over rice dish.

While we were waiting we watched the kitchen workers put on the most disgusting food preparation act I had ever seen. The entire operation was not up to code - but for non-sit-down restaurants in Korea, there isn't actually a health code. I won't go through every gross thing we saw, but just the preparation of the Cold Udon Soup.

Step one: Dishwasher stops washing dishes and pulls out a handful of udon noodles from the sink with her rubber dish gloves, placing them in a bowl. Yes, this is the same sink that she was washing dishes in. Yes, these are the same gloves that she was washing dishes with.

Step two: Blood sausage / pig liver handler (who wears what were once white cotton gloves) pulls a hard boiled egg out of a container (not refrigerated) and slices it in half with a wire that is attached to the counter.

Step three: Blood sausage / pig liver handler picks up the bowl and scoops some partially frozen broth into the bowl and hands it to the customer.

Other highlights:
The woman cleaning out the deep fryer scooped crap out of it with a sieve and dumped it on the ground right next to her.

A kid walked up to the food prep counter and asked where to put his dirty dishes. The cook indicated the food prep counter and there it went.

In case you were wondering, Sara's meal was served from a chafe plate with a proper ladle and we feel fine. There was enough chili sauce on it to hopefully kill anything that was living around it.

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