Friday, 15 July 2011

The secret's in the sauce

Back when I was a student, financial hardship saw me spending the best part of a year working in McDonald's. At the time it seemed moderately more appealing than participating in clinical trials, and besides, the hours were pretty flexible.

When pushed for horror stories from that joyless period in my life, all I can come up with is the time a customer threw away a half-finished strawberry milkshake, not noticing I was on my knees cleaning out the inside of the bin cabinet at the time. It took two days to scrub the sickly scent off my skin, and my 'Dining Area Host' burgundy waistcoat had to be burned.

As much as I'd like to be able to tell my friends about the many abuses of basic hygiene that went on in the kitchen, the fact is, everything was kept tediously above-board. So I always marvel when I hear other fugitives from food service telling wondrous stories of the adulterated ingredients that featured in their own version of kitchen nightmares. And although I tend to take these stories with a sachet of salt, there's every possibility that they have their origins in truth.

For years, Viz got plenty of comic mileage out of the concept of 'Winner's Sauce' - a curiously salty batter that only a chef with Y chromosomes can whip up. As you may already be aware, the term was coined in honour of the obnoxious director, insurance salesman and gourmand. Because, if the stories are to be believed, Michael Winner has ingested more more spunk than Marc Almond (in that other notoriously apocryphal anecdote).

The number of professional cooks claiming to have personalised one of Winner's dinners would suggest that every meal the Death Wish director has ever eaten was frosted like a Belgian bun. But I find it hard to believe that someone with such a cultivated palate wouldn't notice the unusual viscosity of the aoili.

It might all sound like a bit of a lark, and there are few who would disagree that no-one is more deserving of a bukkake buffet, but it is actually a criminal offence to put the 'man' in someone else's Hellmann's. If only someone had pointed that that out to grocery store employee Anthony Garcia.

The Albuquerque-based retail assistant was indicted recently for giving a female shopper a nasty surprise at the Sunflower Farmers' Market by offering her a dubious yoghurt sample. According to police reports, the woman thought the sample tasted "gross and disgusting", commenting that it "tasted like semen". Maybe he'd been eating asparagus in the fresh produce section. Anyway, suspicious that Danone would consider launching a Brie-flavoured Activia, she allerted the authorities who sent the remains of the yoghurt off for testing.

Using blood and DNA samples from Garcia, the lab was able to confirm that the yoghurt did indeed contain an extra organic compound. And it wasn't Bifidus Regularis. Apparently Garcia has a considerable track record of sex crimes, from masturbating in public to wandering around Wal-Mart with his penis "hanging out of his pants". Although, as PeopleOfWalMart repeatedly demonstrates, stranger sights have been documented in the aisles. Nonetheless, if Garcia is found guilty of spoiling the yoghurt he could face three years in prison, as well as a further five for providing false statements to the police.

Now, next time you see one of those friendly sample ladies in the supermarket, don't get too excited. Think twice before reaching for the plastic spoon.

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