More regulation desperately needed
After a particularly painful experience at a local restaurant, an irate friend of mine feels strongly that heat descriptions for spicy meals should be nationally monitored and controlled. But since I spend my life in and around the long-term care profession — one of the most heavily regulated in the universe — I'm skeptical.
It's not that I don't agree with his premise. Despite the pioneering efforts of pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, a uniform heat scale just hasn't caught on in practical use, and it's a national disgrace. One chef's three is another chef's smidge. One fiery star next to a menu item can be the equivalent of four cartoon chiles on the menu across the street. Placing an order in this environment is a reckless and dangerous act of either naiveté or denial.
“How spicy would you like that?” asks Brad, our eager and likable waitperson, and we gaze up at him with eyes of pure trust and say things like, “Medium,” or “Not too much.” But without hiring food tasters like the kings of old, we as innocent patrons have no way to know the implications of our choice until the first bite has passed our lips. Then, with faces of crimson and hot, pepper-infused tears pouring down our cheeks, we grab for soda, milk, beer, water from the flower vase — anything to put out the fire.
This is no way to treat an innocent customer, and it's just not fair. You're toiling away, running your long-term care facility the best you can under the omnipresent eyes of state and federal watchdogs, while eateries across America are operating in an unregulated culinary dystopia where medium spicy can mean anything from an unflavored rice cake to a molten mouthful of Vesuvius.
Unfortunately, with big government under constant attack and any reference to this issue disturbingly absent from the stump speeches of current presidential aspirants, standardized spiciness measures with associated penalties are unlikely to be nationally implemented. Unless Donald Trump is elected. I'm told he has a secret plan to control not only ISIS, but spices too.
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.