June 27, 2010

Why You Should Never Order Fish on Mondays

I just finished Anthony Bourdain's memoir, Kitchen Confidential, which chronicles his antics as a New York chef in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

In short, it's a fabulous read.

Binge drinking during dinner service? Check.
Shooting up heroin after closing? Check.
Awesome descriptions of vichysoisse, tarte Tatin, and other culinary delights? Check, check, and check.

Although I enjoyed reading about Bourdain's adventures in the kitchen, my favorite part of the book is when he offers his advice on eating out (ie, don't order fish on Mondays!). Some of these tips are too good to keep to myself:

1.) Skip the hollandaise sauce. Just skip it.

This is sort of gross but here we go: hollandaise sauce is a hotbed for bacteria. Since hollandaise sauce must be kept at room temperature, it often sits in its container for hours on end—which leads to inevitable bacterial growth. And since hollandaise is never made to order, you can bet your lucky stars that your sauce is a veritable petri dish.

A petri dish! Ew!

2.) Be wary of the bread.

Yeah, you see that basket of bread in front of you? Chances are, it's been recycled off of someone else's table.

Most restaurants recycle their uneaten bread since they can lose a ton of money by throwing it away. And so, they recycle it instead. Fortunately, Bourdain says this isn't a huge deal. After all, we live with germs all around us—what's wrong with a little reused bread? "Eat the bread," he tells us.

(Which I will gladly do. I love bread.)

3.) Don't eat mussels unless you personally know the chef.

Okay, this one grossed me out a lot. A whole lot. I don't even like mussels, but I'll be sure to never to eat one ever again.

So...most restaurants will leave their mussels in a large container where they wallow in their own "foul-smelling piss." *Dry heaves* Some restaurants will use special containers to prevent this unsavory practice, but more often than not they don't.


4.) Never order fish on Mondays.

To prepare for the weekend rush, most chefs will purchase their seafood on Thursday to carry them through Friday and Saturday. But what happens to the fish that doesn't get sold over the weekend? Yep, you guessed it: it's repackaged as a "dinner special" for Monday night.

A great tip to know, right?

Happy eating! And don't order the mussels!


  1. Oh good lord this was too gross. Actually, we watch Bourdain's show sometimes and it always seemed like he was quite the party animal so some of the stuff you said wasn't too surprising. But the tidbits - ew. Just plain ew. I have also heard that you should never order a steak well-done in a restaurant (I can't eat meat unless it's practically charred to shoe leather) because they save the really horrible cuts of meat for the patrons who ask for it well done. The idea is that cooking something well done takes all of the flavor out of it so - they only use the worst and oldest cuts of meat on that. Bummer for me!

  2. I've always wondered about the bread and tortilla chips at Mexican restaurants too. It seemed pretty wasteful to toss the extra, but gross to recycle. Now I know it's not all going to waste, eh?