Cafe Reviews

Second Helpings

Rising to the Occasion: Chefs are always looking to be on the cutting edge. One saucy French chef, however, has apparently gone just a bit too far.

According to Nation's Restaurant News, Jean-Louis Galland came up with a novel way to get his beef piccata with fig vinegar and fine herbs the acclaim it deserved--he added Viagra to the sauce.

Authorities were not amused with the "love chef." They confiscated his potent secret ingredient. "I don't understand it," complained Galland. "They make medicine to make love better, and they want to make war with me."

Pfizer, the drug's manufacturer, also wasn't happy, demanding Galland eighty-six the anti-impotence ingredient. "The objective of a medication is not be in a sauce," a company spokesman said.

Galland may be on to something. I can think of other drugs that chefs might use to good effect. How about grilling up a steak laced with sodium Pentothal, to ensure truthful dinnertime conversation? Prozac pork chops would help diners relax. And an aspirin tablet tossed into the creme brulee might keep her from having a headache later that evening.

Hail, Caesar: Sure, O.J. Simpson walked, and Charles Keating was freed on appeal. But sometimes justice does prevail in California. Exhibit A: The legislature has pardoned the caesar salad.

Since 1997, caesar salad has been romaine non grata in this health-obsessed state. Food safety laws made the use of raw eggs in a restaurant dish a criminal offense.

To caesar salad lovers, it was no yolk. Purists know that raw eggs are an essential component of the salad, along with anchovies and Parmesan cheese.

Representative Carole Midgen, a San Francisco Democrat, convinced the legislature to decriminalize this key ingredient. It is now legal to serve a traditional caesar salad, as long as the restaurant informs patrons that it contains raw eggs. Now, how about a law requiring restaurants to tell us when the chef uses canned vegetables, three-day-old fish and processed cheese?

Restaurant Law: Public health concerns have long made it legal for restaurant owners to have employees tested for hepatitis, tuberculosis and other highly communicable diseases. The law on AIDS, however, hasn't been completely worked out.

But it's starting to be. The Michigan Supreme Court, in a case that may have national implications, overturned a lower court and ruled that a restaurant owner may test an employee if the employer has a reasonable suspicion that the worker has AIDS. The decision says the employee may not be fired, but could be reassigned temporarily to protect public safety until it was known for certain whether the employee had an AIDS-related communicable disease.

And a federal court of appeals has upheld the firing of an HIV-positive produce handler who regularly worked with knives. Citing the Americans With Disabilities Act, he had refused to provide his employer any medical information.

--Howard Seftel

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Howard Seftel