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The May 30 “Baja by the Sea” food and cultural exhibition held at Embarcadero Marina Park in downtown San Diego ultimately sought to encourage Baja tourism, but considering what I experienced, the mission was somewhat unsuccessful.

Although the food samples, when available, all tasted delicious (especially the fresh seafood chowder served by Restaurant Puerto Nuevo), several hygiene mishaps at other booths were a turnoff for any germophobe.

Most horrific was the sushi chef who had gouged his thumb and apparently lacked a bandage. So, he wrapped dried seaweed around the wound and continued preparing the sushi with his bare hands as blood oozed out around the makeshift bandage. After such a lengthy wait in line for the sample, I was reluctant to refuse it and prayed that he had no blood-borne pathogens or infectious diseases.

We’d barely recovered from the sushi incident when the margarita server walked by with a “tray” containing freshly made drinks. The crowd swarmed in and grabbed the free samples. A few minutes later, the server’s tray (a metal trash can lid) was filled with dirty dishes and soiled napkins. Then we noticed pet owners allowing their dogs to relieve themselves immediately adjacent to the food exhibits.

Seeing these unsophisticated standards of hygiene, I began to lose my appetite for the tasty treats we had waited in line so long to sample. It’s okay though, because after 90 minutes in this particular queue, they’d run out of food, so all we got was a saucer with a couple of tortilla chips and a spoonful of salsa.

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