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  • Felice Cohen

A Not So Happy Meal

“What is that?” my client asked. We were walking across East 73rd Street when we spotted a rather unappetizing sight outside a popular restaurant in a very wealthy Manhattan neighborhood.

chicken restaur

“Looks like a rat’s Christmas morning,” I said, snapping a picture of the clump of raw meat on the ground adjacent to the barrel.

“Do you think we should tell them?” she said. Being the good Samaritans we are, we walked inside. After a few minutes of standing there being seen, but ignored by the staff prepping for the lunch crowd, we left, making note never to eat in that establishment.

A messy kitchen area is one thing. An unsanitary one is a whole other ballgame.

In the two years I’ve been in my new apartment, one of the best improvements over my old place is having a real kitchen. Living without one for almost five years, I can appreciate having space to cook. And the one thing I’ve discovered in learning  to cook is that it’s not so unlike organizing. The key is preparation.

First I set out all the ingredients on my large island: food, cutting board, knife, measuring cups, etc. Then I pretend I’m Rachel Ray, putting each chopped, diced or peeled ingredient in its own bowl before beginning the process. If a stray piece of celery, onion or one tiny grain of couscous hits the floor, I’m on it like white on rice. Knock on wood I’ve yet to see anything in my apartment with more legs than I have. We know the city has rats, but what helps New Yorkers sleep at night is that, for the most part, the (not so) little critters stay hidden underground.

I’d like to keep it that way.

In order to do that, if would be great if we all did our part. Lazily tossing food into the trash – only to miss – is like sending out invitations to unwanted guests. I’m not saying we need to keep our city spit shine, but raw meat on the ground? Not kosher.

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