Reason For Not Eating Out #39: Because the Hair In My Food Is Always Mine

There’s nothing ickier than raising a fork to eye level and finding that intimately human object entwined in your food: hair. All the sudden, it’s like you’re in bed with the chef. And how well that person cleans him or herself, or where he or she has been in the last twenty-four hours — and who that person is — you have no clue. Panic ensues.

I know this is not a pleasant topic for anyone. But chances are, if you’ve been eating restaurant food throughout your life, this has probably happened to you at least once. So sorry for bringing back the bad memory. And for this thought: what about the particles, germs, and other human artifacts that are in our food, too, but that we can’t see? Creeping, crawling, migrating into food, because they just do, in even the most sanitary kitchens.

When you go to a restaurant, your trust is in their hands, literally, and you trust that those hands are clean. Unless that trust is broken (like from finding a hair in the food, or becoming sick afterward), you don’t have reason not to. When cooking at home, you don’t have to operate on guesswork and faith — you know that you washed that spoon, rinsed that pot, and above all, have pretty clean hygiene. That is, if you do and did.

On the other hand, hair happens. It happens when I cook for myself. Naturally, I try not to let it get into food, and in most cases I think I’d be able to spot it before it winds up on a plate, or fork. It doesn’t always work. I’ve found hair in loaves of bread that I’ve baked. I was mortified to hear, a few months later, that at one of the first meals I’d cooked at home for a date, he’d found a strand of hair in my homemade linguine (I should’ve made “angel hair” instead). I suppose I could wear a hairnet in the kitchen and that’s always an option. If this isn’t enough to gross you out entirely, there is a rare disorder of people eating their hair, so unless that’s your thing, you can rest assured of not being at the pinnacle of hair consumption if any of this has happened with you, too. (The old saying, “You are what you eat” just got weirder.)

But herein, a glimpse of my point. Hair, and the rest of one’s bodily effects, is just more palatable when it’s your own. Call it fickle or unfair, or just a fact of life: we live with our germs, our bodies are ours, so what could be icky about any of that in our mouths? So no, I didn’t throw away the loaf of bread with a strangely twisted strand of hair that poked out of one piece, because there was no mystery as to whose it was. And if I found a piece of hair in a food that a friend, family member or acquaintance cooked, then I’d just use my own judgment about whether I trusted him or her enough to remove it shrug it off.

I’ve always praised the act of cooking with other people or trying their homemade food as a good way of getting to know them better. It brings a new dimension of peoples’ personalities to light, watching how they chop and dice, teamworking on a time-sensitive dish, etc. It’s intimate, and now we can attribute that to a more physical reality. You can end up eating one another, sort of, to an extent, sharing germs and such. That’s why knowing not only where my food came from but who made it are two mottos close to my fork.

15 Responses

  1. Jason
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    I once found a blond hair in one of my dishes. I freaked because I’m asian and have black hair of course. To this day I have no idea where that hair came from.

  2. PageRank Check
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    cooooooooooool

  3. PageRank Check
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    finding hair in the food is awful

  4. Tania
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    Well I’ve served salad with glass in it (as a waitress). And I drank an iced chocolate with a cockroach in it. At first I thought it was chocolate… But then I looked to find it was a damned cockroach!! Strangely, as someone who is not fond of insects it wasn’t so bad. The thought of it is much worse than the actuality (it had a wafer-like consistency). So I find hair in food no big deal now. I just eat around that part of the meal. It could be worse!!

  5. Joanne
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    Ugh, this is when I freak out. I always put my hair up when I go into the kitchen. Also since I have dogs, I have to make sure there’s no obvious stray dog hairs on my clothing when I start prepping. Seriously, do you know what dogs do? I don’t bathe them daily.

  6. Naomi
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    More than just hairs, bacteria. Now that I make 80% of my meals at home, for the last 10 years or so, I find I get food poisoning more often from restaurants. I wonder if its because my stomach isn’t used to the bacteria as a result of poorly kept kitchens. Maybe I am a nut-so germ freak though…

    Tania, I will never drink chocolate the same way. I’m so sorry this happened to you!

  7. Ana Sofia
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    I always worry more about the things I don’t catch.

  8. Danielle
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    If we worry too much about these things then how can we possible enjoy ourselves when go out or stay in. Life’s an adventure enough without worrying about hair in our food.

    Joanne, I have 2 cats that shed lots, and I vacuum frequently but I doubt that the kitty hair stays out of the kitchen. It’s like dust and anyone who doesn’t thing dust gets in there food is delusional. After all, I live in Brooklyn. Dust, hair and germs are a way of life:-)

  9. judy
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    Yesterday I found a LONG black hair (not from my blond head) in a 4-pound package of chicken breasts from Stop n Shop. Ugh. I washed that chicken with ferocity. Uck.

  10. Dory
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    In terms of the germs of your friends and loved ones, I always think that there are certain types of meals I only eat with people I really like. Ethiopian food primarily, with everyone sticking their hands in the food and in their mouths and back again…

  11. […] “Reasons for not eating out”, offers a convincing argument to go anti-resto too. Read Because the hair in my food is always mine as an amuse […]

  12. Inheritance Planning
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    Sometimes the hair is my wife’s but hey, at least I know where its being.

    Bon Appetite

  13. Rebecca C
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    Meh, I just eat around the hair. It does gross me out a little, but it doesn’t ruin the meal for me, unless the meal wasn’t that great in the first place.

    However, finding hair in mine and DH’s own food may have desensitized me somewhat. I try to avoid it, and we are obsessive about handwashing, cross-contamination, etc. but we live in a tiny duplex with 2 dogs, 3 cats, and often 1-2 extra foster dogs (or dogs I’m sitting). Fur gets in the food occasionally, just like it gets onto towels, clothes, and sofas. Such is life. =P

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