Appetizers 

Ingredients you might not want to know about.

Let's face it, there are some things in life better left unseen: One of your in-laws naked. The director's cut of a Pauly Shore movie. And the health inspection file of your favorite restaurant.

So if you want to eat in peace, stop reading now. The rest of you, come along. We've got lunch and dinner dates at some fast-food spots, greasy-spoon cafes, ethnic cuisines and, yes, four-star restaurants -- with real verbatim excerpts from health inspection reports sitting next to the utensils.

"The party guests had just sat down with their meals when the ceiling dumped over a gallon of liquid substance onto the guests' table and onto their food. ... It had not rained for at least five days." -- January 21, 2002 complaint regarding H's Lordships in Berkeley. The restaurant manager conceded that there was a leak, but disputed the amount of liquid involved.

"Fresh dog excrement was observed on the floor behind the unused bar counter service area. ... Except under the control of a uniformed security officer, do not allow dog(s) to roam the facility." -- December 4, 2001 inspection report for Mambo Mambo in Oakland.

"Rat jumped on his sister's purse. ... The complainant was upset because the manager didn't response [sic] or handle the complaint in a manner that will calm his sister." -- September 19, 2000 complaint about Original Mel's in Berkeley, which inspectors have repeatedly cited for rat infestations.

"At the rear of the building next to the warehouse roll-up door was a bucket of rotting meat scraps, providing a medium for breeding green blowflies." -- Finding from June 5, 2001 inspection of Eden Market in San Leandro.

"During the inspection, the owner ... seemed irritated by my presence. At the end of the inspection I asked [the owner] to sign the report. At this point he stated, 'You always have to find something.' He then gestured as if he was going to poke me with the pen with which he had signed the report. He then stated, 'I'll kick your butt.' I asked him, 'Was that a threat?' He did not answer, he just laughed." -- January 22, 2002 memo from food inspector re confrontation with owner of Yummie Yogurt at Hilltop Mall.

"Small yellow ball plastic (three or four pieces) found in the chow mein." -- April 30, 2002 complaint re Sun Hong Kong in Berkeley.

"Today at lunchtime she was in there and ordered a steak sandwich. She found a bug cooked in her sandwich." -- October 8, 2001 patron complaint about Eastmont Hero in Oakland. A belated follow-up inspection one month later revealed a cockroach infestation.

"Discovered a cockroach in her broccoli ... it was in the food covered in sauce." -- August 28, 2001 complaint about Red Pepper restaurant in Richmond. The facility was closed down ten days later for cockroach infestation.

"Complaint regarding 'wood screw' found by customer in his omelet. Manager ... claims she and cooks saw screw after customer had eaten, but did not know where it came from. ... Inspection did not reveal a source of screw." -- June 13, 2002 inspection report for Lyon's Restaurant in Newark.

"Clean and sanitize the muffin baking trays and the bottom of the shelf where they are stored under the bread slicer. Old mice droppings (about fifteen) observed here." -- July 24, 2001 inspection report at Noah's Bagels on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.

"Internal temperature of garbanzo beans (cooked) at 52 degrees Fahrenheit. ... Product was voluntarily discarded when it was determined that it had been prepared yesterday. ... Eliminate evidence of previous pest activity in the dry storage room #1252. Observed several old rat droppings on the floor. Also observed evidence of meal moth debris, webbing, and larval casings on cornmeal bags." -- February 27, 2002 inspection report for Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

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