Thursday, October 4, 2012

Excuse Me Operator Can You Tell Me What Time It Is?

A long time ago the criminally underappreciated Joe Jackson sang, "Life goes on, ever immune to prediction.  And life can be strange but only love can be stranger than fiction."  Methinks that recent events across these United States might give the esteemed Mr. Jackson pause to reconsider at least the final piece of that lyric. 

Have you long pondered where one might be able to enjoy good Chinese food in the bustling metropolis of Williamsburg, Kentucky?  No?  Consider yourself fortunate.  For at one of that community's Chinese restaurant - The Red Flower - the proprietor has apparently added a local delicacy to the menu.  Last week the Whitley County Health Inspector, Paul Lawson, closed up The Red Flower after its owner admitted that his son had brought "road kill" into the establishment.  Apparently the owner was surprised to learn that telling Mr. Lawson that the newly-dead deer his son had hauled home from Route 75 was intended for consumption by his family and not by his customers was not good enough to keep his restaurant from being shut down.  Lawson apparently was surprised to learn from the owner that neither he nor his employees realized that performing some sort of half-assed autopsy on a deer in the very kitchen where food is handled and prepared for consumption by the establishment's customers was a no-no.   According to Lawson, "They said they didn't know that they weren't allowed to. So that makes me concerned. But maybe they could have before. They didn't admit to doing it before.

Not only did the good folks at The Red Flower haul a deer's carcass into their kitchen and start chopping it up - they did so while they were open for business and had customers in the dining room.  One patron told a local television station that she was one of the people who called the health department - after she witnessed two workers pushing a garbage can with a box on top of it, from which she could see a tail, a foot and a leg dangling, into the kitchen while she was eating the lunch buffet.  Another customer told the same local television station that upon seeing the deer carcass being transported into the kitchen she became ill and ran out of the restaurant, into another business located next door and threw up.  Good thing she made it out the door before vomiting or The Red Flower would have certainly had a second item on its "Specials" board. 

The most amazing part of this story?  The Red Flower received no fine and - once it demonstrates to Lawson's satisfaction that its kitchen is clean and sanitary - it will be permitted to open anew.  This in spite of the fact that apparently not everyone in the Whitley County Government was buying the "it was for us to eat and enjoy, not for our customers" line of venison that the restaurant's owner peddled to Lawson.  "Apparently they were going to feed it to customers, they had it all cut up and they were dissecting it," said Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell.   

The possibility exists that I am being unfair to the owners of The Red Flower.  Perhaps all they are trying to do is protect our position atop the food chain.  It is safer to assert such a claim against a recently-dead deer than it is against a group of wide awake, hungry hogs.  A lesson tragically learned just last week by Oregon farmer Terry Vance Garner

Last Wednesday Mr. Garner set out to feed his hogs, some of which weigh in excess of 700 pounds.  He never returned home.  According to the local District Attorney, a family member found Garner's dentures and pieces of his body in the hog enclosure several hours later, but most of his remains had been consumed

Poor guy.  No one deserves to die in a manner that conjures up imagery from that awful movie "Hannibal".  In what might be the best example of understatement one is likely to encounter for some time, Coos County District Attorney Frasier told a local newspaper, "For all we know, it was a horrific accident, but it's so doggone weird that we have to look at all possibilities."  Authorities in Oregon are not optimistic that they will ever be able to give an actual cause of death for Mr. Garner - such was the damage inflicted upon him by his hogs. 

And while this should go without saying, one can never be too cautious.  If your travels in the next forty-five days or so take you to the Williamsburg, Kentucky area and a hankering for Chinese food lands you in the dining room of The Red Flower....

....let me just day that if I were you, I would avoid the pork fried rice. 

-AK






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