Cafe Society

Top five seriously nasty things I've found in my food

Yes, someone just found yet another @#$% finger in his %$#@ food -- and this time, it apparently wasn't planted for the purpose of a lawsuit (but I wouldn't be shocked if a lawsuit ensues).

Michigan teen Ryan Hart was chowing down on a roast beef sandwich at Arby's when he bit on a "rubbery" piece of meat, which turned out to be non-cow and all-human. It was a chunk of finger, which an employee had lopped off on a meat slicer earlier -- but since co-workers were allegedly unaware of the accident, they proceeded to inadvertently serve this kid a soylent-sammie.

I've never discovered a severed digit in my roast beef, but I've found some super McNasties in food I've bought and ordered. Here, for entertainment purposes only, is my list of the top five seriously strange things I've found in my food:

5. Stone soup.

Campbell's Vegetable Beef soup is one of my favorite childhood comfort foods, and I am an unapologetic fan of it to this day -- even after I found an unappetizing hunk of gravel in one can. I was slopping the contents into a pan when I heard a "tink" noise, did a search-and-recover with a fork and found a small rock stuck to a hunk of carrot. That could've cost me a filling, so I called the customer satisfaction hotline, reported the foreign body, and Campbell's apologetically sent me coupons. I love the soup so much I willingly forgave the company. And for the record, if I had found a bug, I'm so confident in Campbell's ability to cook its soup-mush thoroughly that I probably would have gone ahead and eaten it.

4. Beans of a feather...

I also love canned pork & beans. When I was shorter, my brother and I used to beat the shit out of each other fighting over the soggy lump of fat, to the point where my pops actually had to remove the fat lump, surgically separate it into two equal pieces, and make sure we both got one.

A few years ago I was prepping baked beans for a backyard barbeque and as I dumped the second can into a crockpot, I saw a white sliver that didn't look like fat. Upon further examination, I determined that it was a feather of some kind. Maybe pigeon...maybe turkey...maybe white parrot -- in any case, it really didn't belong in my damn beans.

3. Cream of moth-room soup.

I was at Outback Steakhouse enjoying a delicious New York strip, medium rare, with a loaded baked potato, when I took a bite of my side of sautéed mushrooms -- this was the '90s, when everyone got sides of sautéed mushrooms with their steaks -- and noticed they tasted weird. Really weird, slightly sour, with a crunch. I examined my napkin spit-up to find a partially chewed moth nestled in with the partially-chewed mushrooms. When my server and like three managers came over to apologize, I told them I wasn't mad, because moths and mushrooms were the same color -- and forcing them to look at my napkin spit-up was punishment enough.

2. It ain't cheesy, being green.

I once bought frozen pizzas at Wal-Mart. If that's not the beginning of a bad joke, it's probably the punch-line to an even worse joke. I de-boxed and unwrapped my cheese pizza later on that evening, and there was a layer of mold on it, thick and green as Astro Turf. I was annoyed enough to actually bag up the moldy pizza, drive it back to Wally's the next day, thump it down on the counter at customer service and ask for a refund. Now Wal-Mart has a rep for allowing pretty much anything to be returned with a receipt -- but the clerk, completely nonplussed, asked if I wanted to exchange the pizza for a different one.

"Would you want another pizza after seeing this one?" I asked her.

She gave me my money back.

1. I in-cyst-ed.

Back in the days before I learned that buying ground beef was a bad idea, I was making hamburger patties by hand when I noticed an intransigent nodule in one of my soon-to-be-flattened burger balls. I dug around and retrieved it, rinsed it off, and could not for the life of me figure out what it was. It was pinky-red with white bits, hard, round-ish. I showed it to everyone in the house, and none of them had a clue what it was, although the guesses were good ones: eyeball? Gonad? Zit? Finally I did what I usually did in case of emergency -- I Googled that shit. It matched the description of a cyst/tumor, and the pictures of beef cysts online bore a striking resemblance to one I found in my soon-to-be food.

I contacted the grocery store where I'd purchased the beef -- Piggly Wiggly -- the next morning, and the guy in the meat department told me that this sort of thing was perfectly normal and I had no cause for alarm. Maybe not, but I decided I also had no cause to buy ground beef -- or any other meat -- from them again. Maybe not buying any food from anything named Piggly Wiggly is a better idea.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jenn Wohletz
Contact: Jenn Wohletz