Of Course You Don't Want to Find a Mouse in Your Salad -- But You Shouldn't Want Bagged Greens in It, Either
Is there any specimen of contemporary consumer convenience more beautiful than the bagged salad? The shiny plastic clamors for our attention from the supermarket shelves. You want a specific leaf? Bags trumpet the virtues of arugula or iceberg, baby spinach or hearts of romaine. Can't decide? Grab a spring mix or a European mix or a Mediterranean mix. Can't remember whether you have a bottle of dressing at home? The Caesar mix has your back with packets of dressing, cheese and croutons to pair with the greens.
Empty bag, empty mind?
This one has been triple-washed. This one has been quadruple-washed. This one has been washed in the tears of twenty comely virgins.
All beauty is fleeting, however, and in the case of bagged salads you needn't wait decades for its shine to fade. You don't even have to open the bag -- though that will surely do the trick. Simply take the bag from the shelf and examine its contents. Press the greens against the plastic until the bag seems ready to pop.
Does that leaf have a touch of brown around the edges? Do the greens leave a slick of slime on the inside of the plastic?
Are you really that desperate for a dump-and-dress salad?
- "Excuse Me, Waiter, There's a Mouse in My Salad"
Last week, Clayton-Richmond Heights Patch scooped a disturbing incident from earlier this year: A diner at Katie's Pizzeria Café (6611 Clayton Road, Clayton; 314-727-8585) found a dead mouse in her salad. According to the report from the St. Louis County Department of Health and Human Services, the salad with the mouse came from a bag.
The manager on duty at Katie's said they took the bag of lettuce back to Restaurant Depot; the Restaurant Depot owner took fault.
Yes, well, while it was thoughtful of the Restaurant Depot owner to take the fall for the mouse, that certainly doesn't excuse the restaurant staff for not noticing that they were about to serve a customer a salad with a dead mouse in it.
(How does one not notice a dead mouse in a bag of greens? Besides carelessness? A colleague who knows far more about most matters than I do observes that mere hours after a mouse dies, its corpse has shriveled to a point that you could mistake it for a dried fig. I have no empirical evidence that this is true, but I certainly won't be eating dried figs any time soon.)
Really, though, the dead mouse is, if not irrelevant, nothing more than a spectacular (and rare) symptom of a much larger problem at many -- maybe most -- restaurants.