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6) Clams in Omaha!

Like any foodstuff, it’s important to know if the food you ordered was raised or grown within a close proximity to the dining room table. Ordering steamed clams and mussels in places like Omaha, Fargo, and Topeka can be a stinky endeavor. The problem is not that mollusks don’t arrive relatively fresh to the Midwest (they do have airports there); it’s usually that cooks in non-coastal regions don’t have a clue about how to properly store and cook shellfish. You may want to skip that bucket of clams in Dayton, or you could be looking for another kind of bucket.

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7) Lemon Wedges Are Disgusting

Yes, it’s true. A simple lemon wedge in your ice water can make you sicker than a pooch.
Lemon skins have lots of nasty pesticides and other fertilizers that don’t get completely washed off by the growers, and seldom do you see restaurants washing citrus fruit before cutting it. Even worse, servers and bartenders generally use their fingers when grabbing lemon wedges for beverages. Is that a booger in my iced tea? Yep, it sure is.

8) Catsup Bottle Bomb

Catsup bottles that get used for restaurant service often get “married” by the wait staff during side-work duties, meaning they fill the nearly empty bottles with catsup from other nearly empty bottles. This makes it seem like the catsup bottle that you asked for is possibly new when it’s brought to your table. But it’s probably not. Old catsup topped with more old catsup, especially in bottles that get forgotten for a while in a wait station, can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. And catsup can become rancid due to the natural acidity of tomatoes, paired with lots of vinegar. (Catsup bottles have been known to explode tableside. Yikes!)

9) Watch Out For That Soft Drink

Soft drinks that are poured from the fountain at most restaurants and bars have the potential to make diners really sick. Harmful bacteria and molds love the dampness of those ubiquitous beverage machines. And it’s ultimately important for establishments to frequently take the spouts apart and clean them thoroughly, which most places don’t do very often. Anyone who orders soft drinks from the fountain has probably noticed – from time to time–that slightly dirty aftertaste. Well, there you go. And beer taps that don’t get cleaned are equally nasty.

10) Sweet and Sour Seitan?

This last item probably won’t make you hurl, unless you have a strong aversion to vegetarian food, yet you shouldn’t order it based on sheer irony. I’m talking about dishes made with seitan, a form of wheat gluten known as “wheat meat,” and tofu items with meaty names. (Vegetarian hot dogs, veggie burgers, etc…) Seitan dishes are usually Asian-inspired and get listed as sweet and sour pork, sesame chicken, and spicy beef. Why is it that vegetarians who detest eating meat insist on ordering dishes that relate to meat? It’s just wrong.

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