I think I found him.
I think I found him.
Eat, drink and be merry. We never stop to think twice when we dig into our hot steaming bowl of noodles, or our big slices of pizza laden with pepperoni and cheese. We accept the food as they are, trusting the staff and chefs to have placed utmost important and priority in its cleanliness to prepare the dishes for us.
Of course, we never know what goes on behind the kitchen, among the many pots and pans, oil and smoke. Smoke from the fire, or puffs from a cigarette? How sure are we that a gecko or two had once treaded carefully over our seemingly clean plates? Did the clanging of various utensils outweight the squeaks from mice hidden in the corners? Did it really matter if we dine in a posh five-star hotel, or at a typical mamak stall by the roadside? Would it still be the same?
Then we gasp in horror as we hear stories of cockroaches found in a plate of rice, a nest of ants crawling out from a sandwich. I personally have stared at a caterpillar moving lazily on the piece of lettuce that came with my chicken rice. I did not ask for another dish, though, despite my friend’s protests – I comforted myself with the thought that the lettuce was probably still fresh – that the caterpillar did not have any qualms being on it. I avoided the piece of green, though, my eyes continued watching the insect warily.
So it was that, last week, after placing my order, I witnessed the few officials leading away one of the men from the food stall to a nearby table. The lady was reprimanding the young man on the dos and don’ts, but from his glum face, I gathered it was already too late. He looked like a timid mouse forced into a corner by a few cats, accepting his fate. A half hour later, the small group headed back to the food stall. The stall shutters were pulled down – and a notice visibly pasted onto it. I lingered around for the nasi goreng kampung that never came, as I read what was on the paper. The headers “Notis Perintah Tutup” (roughly translated to ‘Closure Notice’, I think) screamed boldly back at me. The two chefs in the food stall stared solemnly. A little while later I was told that the officials were from the Health Ministry.
I walked back to my room, deciding that another cup of instant noodles would not hurt.