Larry David can eat and shat at the same place; not sure about these Brits

I recently revisited a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode from 2011 where Larry David is dating the hostess at his favorite restaurant. Friends tell him, you can’t sh_t where you eat, or eat where you shat, but Larry insists he is above larry-david-hbosuch mortal recommendations.

Things don’t turn out well, in the form of suspected food poisoning.

Things may also not turn out so well for British entrepreneurs who have turned a Victorian-era men’s public toilet into a café.

According to the Globe and Mail, the entrepreneurs spent £100,000 to power-clean and renovate the 19th-century public lavatory, turning it into the Attendant cafe in London.

The restaurant preserves many of the original features dating from the 1890s, including the tiles, cast-iron entrance, and porcelain urinals that have been turned into tabletops as part of the seating area.

The idea, according to a Vanity Fair piece, came to the two while they were at a nearby pub, looked up and noticed a “for let” sign on the ironwork of toilet.cafethe no-longer-used lavatory.

The Curb Your Enthusiasm videos are at

Larry David’s Thanksgiving and pretentious foodies

I saw the Larry David Thanksgiving thing last year during the one hour it was on-line before it was inexplicably pulled.

It’s back again this year.

Also, check out the raw foodist Thanskgiving: “I’m thankful for the raw food diet that is going to help me produce an ideal bowel movement in about 24 hours.”

5 years of red-yellow-green inspection grades in Sacramento County

Social embarrassment works on a number of levels: Scarlett letters, verbal putdowns, passing gas. Even stickers of shame, the New York City practice of slapping a neon yellow sticker along with a $65 fine on cars that illegally block street cleaners. According to the New York Times, the fine is largely irrelevant, it’s the embarrassing – and difficult to remove — stickers that is fueling city council’s move to end the 25-year-old practice.

With food safety, social embarrassment is an effective tool to increase awareness of issues: iPhones recordings of dancing mice, restaurant inspection grades, making people barf and hearing all about it.

How to measure effectiveness remains problematic.

Five years ago, Sacramento County in California launched a green-yellow-red food facility rating program, about 10 years after Toronto in Canada launched a red-yellow-green restaurant inspection disclosure program.

Val Siebal, director of the Environmental Management Department, said that since the program began, food facilities receiving a green or “Pass” placard increased from 88 to 94 percent. At the same time, major health risk violations that could potentially cause foodborne illness have decreased. Restaurants are inspected three times a year and other food facilities twice a year. Routine inspections are unannounced.

“The program has been well-received by food facility owners and operators, and is popular with restaurant patrons. The color-coded placards give consumers an instant message about the establishment’s food safety inspection record and compliance with State and local food safety laws,” said Siebal.

A food inspection results website and smart phone apps were recently made available. Visit with your smart phone or tablet and view the inspection results for food facilities in your immediate area. Free apps can be found in the Android Market and iTunes app stores by searching for ‘Sac Food.’ Visit our mobile web & app page for more information.

The 25-minute “How to Get a Green” training video is available in four languages (English, Spanish, Cantonese, and Vietnamese). It can be viewed online at

Antihistamines with tuna?

Michele Aquino writes:

Yellowfin tuna steaks were recently recalled due to potentially high levels of histamine in the fish. This was a relatively small recall, affecting products that were distributed in Louisiana and Mississippi markets. In 2010, Whole Foods Market issued a similar recall with their Whole Catch brand frozen tuna steaks.

Recall summaries identified the problem and explained the potential for an allergic histamine response in some individuals, which could vary in severity and include symptoms such as: burning and tingling in the mouth, facial swelling, itching, skin reactions, and possible GI discomfort (diarrhea). Statements explained this condition is known as histamine fish poisoning or scombroid toxicity, which refers to the family of fish that were originally implicated as the source of such illness. But, what I have read in the blogs today has no reference to why there might be elevated histamine in the fish.

Is this another challenge for tuna marketers? I’ve noticed an increase in tuna commercials, which I imagine are a response to years of having tuna fish evoke some sort of mercury risk…No thanks to comedian Larry David thinking twice before ordering his tuna salad sandwiches.

The source of the histamine is not to be presumed a flaw in nature’s fish, nor is the wild tuna community embracing a trendy high-histamine diet under the sea. Such a food safety risk is often a result of inadequate temperature control in processing or distribution. Bacteria present on the fish contain the enzyme histidine decarboxylase, which converts histidine in the fish tissue to histamine. By entering the temperature danger zone for too long, the bacteria on the fish multiply and this enzymatic conversion increases. The result: risky fish with a toxin that can’t be killed or deactivated by cooking temperatures.

Read more about marine toxins at the CDC:

Michele Aquino recently returned to the U.S. after serving in the Peace Corps in rural Nicaragua. He has a degree in Nutrition and Food Science and is now pursuing studies in Public Policy.

L.A. County wants food trucks to carry health letter grades

Why not? Wherever people eat, they should be able to get publicly-funded information about food safety; the smart operators will market their excellent food safety.

Los Angeles County public health officials are asking the Board of Supervisors to expand to food trucks the county’s popular letter grading system that evaluates safe food handling practices. The vote, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been pushed back a week.

If approved, 6,000 full-service catering trucks and 3,500 hot dog, churro and other limited food service carts would be covered by the ordinance. If the supervisors approve it, enforcement would first begin in unincorporated areas of the county.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county Department of Public Health, said,

“Even before this trend, we felt people were asking us: We go to a restaurant, we like the grading system, but what about all these trucks that are coming? How do we know? We’ve been looking at this for some time.”

Public health officials said the current program does not meet annual inspection goals because they cannot locate food vehicles that move constantly. The new ordinance will require vendors to give information about their vehicle whereabouts and mandates that the trucks be inspected twice a year.

Erin Glenn, chief executive officer of Asociacion de Loncheros, an association of lunch trucks, said,

“As long as enforcement is fair, and the inspectors treat local food vendors with respect, just like they do with the brick-and-mortar establishments, hopefully the inspection standards are the same, I think the regulations are fine. I think it’s a step in the right direction to improve public health, and we’re all for it.”

The Marriage Ref, iguanas and Salmonella

The Marriage Ref is a terrible show, even with A-lister guests Madonna, Larry David and Ricky Gervais, some of my personal favorites.

The scene of the couple sharing pretty much everything with a giant salmonella-shedding iguana brought no complaints, and while Entertainment Weekly has already have called the episode much better than the previous, it still sucked.

An A for the ice cream shop on Curb Your Enthusiasm

Finally getting around to watching last week’s Curb Your Enthusiasm before delving into this week’s, and once again, the Los Angeles restaurant inspection disclosure program is the money shot of the show.

In addition to the A, the 31 Ice Cream has some sort of food safety seal I haven’t seen before.


Restaurant inspection — by Larry the Cable Guy

Despite being universally panned by critics and avoided by moviegoers, I finally saw Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector while editing news the other night. Sure it’s terrible and deserves its #87 ranking in IMDb’s Bottom 100, but it has some food safety moments.

When Larry’s partner, Amy Butlin, asks,

"How did you become a health inspector? I mean working for the government, it sounds so exciting?"

Larry responds:

"Well, I gotta tell ya, Keepin people from blowin’ chunks and crappin’ on themselves is pretty much all I’ve ever been good at. I mean, no one really knows the responsibility I carry around."

Favorite line? After ingesting some tainted food, Larry proclaims:

"My stomach ain’t felt this bad since I got the fish sticks out of the vending machine at the Phillips 66."

Curb Your Enthusiasm again features L.A.’s restaurant inspection grades

I never liked the television series, Seinfeld.

During it’s original run from 1989 — 1998, I rarely watched, and when I did, found the characters self-indulgent and whiny. Which they were. It just wasn’t that funny.

Curb Your Enthusiasm by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David is much better.

For the second week now of the new season, the Los Angeles restaurant inspection signs — in both cases A — are prominently displayed.

Tonight, as Larry is waiting to get ice cream behind a sample abuser — someone who asks to sample every flavor available — a big L.A. restaurant inspection A is displayed in the window (thanks, Reece, for finding this pic).

Larry won’t however take the $50 he is owed in a golf bet from the newly orphaned Marty Funkhouser after the death of his mother, preceded by the death of his father last year, because of its dodgy microbiological quality after being removed from the insole of Marty’s jogging shoe.

Larry also says that the customer is usually "a moron and an a**hole."

But they pay. And they like their restaurant inspection disclosure letters (L.A.), colors (Toronto), or smiley faces (Denmark).

Orlando, this is directed at you.