A hair out of place
Is finding hair in your food an acceptably gut-wrenching experience, or is hysteria just a plain overreaction?
Apart from the one about eating crusts and growing curls (or for boys, hairy chests), food and hair have only acceptably crossed paths in idiom. While this is all well and good in attempting to overcome an aversion to loaf edges, never the twain shall meet again. Unless, that is, you fall victim to hair contamination in your dinner.
Is there really anything more gag-inducing than an accompanying hair in a plate of food? Fellow balkers will know that when dinner comes with a side of strand, time slows down the second you lay eyes on it, a sickness in the pit of your stomach kicks in and a cold sweat emerges. You can only but hope when you wonder if it’s from your own head. No? Then you’re simply left staring at a specimen of DNA strewn in your supper.
Hairs have made their way into personal encounters with Chinese take-out noodles, the centre of an otherwise mouth-wateringly runny yolk and within the compacted glub of mashed potato (and in a recent case, lamb bhuna). The worst of it though, is the inevitable pinch and extraction – a careful and almost surgical removal so as not to make it a two-parter – all followed by a grimace and close inspection to evaluate its origin. That is, unless you miss the visual and discover it mid-mouthful.
Why is this so disgusting? For starters, finding surprising things in your food is long-established as a disappointing and complaint-worthy occurrence. As a paying customer you should expect no ‘off the menu’ additions, and nor should a plate’s contents steer you into revulsion. Yet all of the above is within the capability of an errand hair.
But what does finding a hair in your food really mean? As a possessor of thick and plentiful hair, it easily happens at home (I’ve been told my hair’s ended up in food I haven’t even prepared), even if you’re a worktop wiper to the point of paint stripping. It’s doubtful anyone has ever fallen ill as a direct result of hair-contaminated food. But finding one does conjure horrifying scenes of festering kitchens, slap-dashery and grubby tea towels. In short, a hair is not necessarily the deciding factor of a kitchen’s hygiene standards, but is a great catalyst for your kitchen nightmare.
Vomiting and overactive imaginations aside, is such a find worthy of wait staff attention? Perhaps these things can’t be helped and we shouldn’t be torturing ourselves with a countdown to food poisoning. But a commissary discount for all the stomach churning is worth the effort, surely? Or is that just splitting hairs?