If you read the paper today, you would have seen the article on four restaurants that have racked up a bunch of food code violations. You would’ve also noticed that they are restaurants serving Chinese food. According to the article, the county health department has asked for the maximum fines to be leveled per violation, meaning thousands of dollars for the restaurant owners.
I have wondered both internally and out loud why this seems to be a repeat problem. Various opinions abound. Some of it I gleaned from a health inspector who shared his own views on the topic with a writer from About.com.
In a nutshell:
1) It’s a cultural thing. Our standards of cleanliness are very different. (From my own experience traveling in China, I have found this to be true. It is not uncommon for homes in rural parts of the country to be without indoor plumbing.)
2) Chinese restaurants have so many different menu options that require many ingredients that are hard to store and use without creating a mess, considering the fast output often associated with ordering from them.
3) Chinese restaurants often use oil to make many dishes (ie., wok fried foods and Fry-o-laters). Grease build up is inevitable and that can attract roaches and other bugs.
4) Communication. Even with an interpretator, the nuance of our language and the importance of health codes can be lost in translation. Again, a cultural thing.
5) Chinese culture is an ancient one, as is much of the way food is prepared and eaten. Adapting to the methods of another country isn’t seamless or easy.
I happen to love Asian cuisine. And I hate the idea of not being able to support local businesses. I’m not sure what to do.