Sunday, February 25, 2007


Why were these people peering through the windows of a Greenwich Village restaurant last Friday? Were they admiring the drumsticks and thighs advertised in the red sign? No, they were watching a pack of a dozen or so rats running around on the floor of the restaurant.

It's enough to make tourists feel like staying back in their hotel room and surviving on healthy peanut-butter sandwiches...

An amusing sequel of this horror tale (well, it's amusing for lucky folk like me who don't have the habit of consuming finger-licking fastfood) is that New York pest-control experts talk as if it's perfectly normal for rats to be found in such an unexpected environment. One of these specialists stated: "Even the most famous restaurants can get rats." Another Manhattan rat exterminator declared that wiping out vermin is impossible. But I'm not sure whether or not this man should be believed, because wiping out rats would mean the end of his business.

One of my uncles once supplied us with a nice little restaurant horror story of a mild homely kind. He lived in an attractive beach setting where the principal restaurant was run by an Asian family. The establishment had a fine reputation, but my uncle refused to ever go there for a meal. When pressed to explain why, my uncle told us he'd heard a rumor about somebody opening the door of the dunny behind the restaurant and finding the Asian cook seated there calmly chopping up beans. Unlike the rat incident in Manhattan, no video crew was on hand to provide us with images of the Asian cook, so we have to rely upon the sincerity of the anonymous rumor-monger who gave the story to my uncle. As for me, I would bet my beans that this rumor was invented, say, by the guy who ran the fish-and-chips shop further down the road.

The following restaurant photo has nothing to do with horror tales:

This 37-year-old female chef named Anne-Sophie Pic—whose body is arched like a ballet dancer as she leans over her stove—runs a time-honored family restaurant in the nearby city of Valence. She has just been awarded three stars by the Michelin red guide: the first time ever that a lady has received such a culinary honor. So, the local press has been treating Anne-Sophie as a heroine over the last week or so.

Now, having said earlier on that I don't normally go into fastfood restaurants (except in Sydney, where it was the only way of finding a so-called broadband hotspot for accessing the Internet), I should point out, in all fairness, that I'm not wealthy enough to eat at the renowned Pic restaurant. In fact, I do all my own cooking... and I think I'm quite good at it.

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