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Food Phobia in a Caracas Airport
Armed with health advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we check out a foreign food court
Following a seven-hour flight from Boston, I arrive in Venezuela famished. I have memorized the CDC's Web page on traveler's diarrhea and feel knowledgeable enough to forage for something to eat in the airport's dingy food court.
I approach a booth offering Chinese food and look through a smeary, Plexiglas window. Today's special is a vegetable and meat dish drowning in a dark goo that resembles brake fluid. I peer into the kitchen area and see a guy who isn't Chinese standing around with his foot up on a stool. A cooking utensil dangles from his hand as he chats up one of the counter girls. Then I hear him sneeze. Then I look at the menu: $10 for the food, E. coli free of charge. I decide to pass.
The next booth isn't much cleaner and offers some kind of local pastry that sags as if someone let all the air out of it. Also, the menu is in Spanish, the counter staff doesn't speak English, and I'm not in the mood to play charades just to get a meal.
That narrows the choices to a joint offering hotdogs on a stick and a Domino's Pizza place. I pass on hotdogs and order a small vegetarian pizza for $10. After eating, I'm thirsty, but I refuse to fork out $1.50 for a small bottle of water. Instead, I take a drink from airport water fountain. I find a seat and await the onset of dysentery.
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