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Some years ago, I learned from an article or a food show that the dirtiest item in most kitchens and bars is the citrus. Accordingly, I stopped ordering lemon or lime for my drinks. There were times when I asked the question to the waitstaff about the cleanliness of the citrus, and sometimes I received a whole lemon or lime with an accompanying wet paper towel. I'm wondering if the current coronavirus scare has caused restaurants and bars to scrub their fruit meticulously.

Maybe I'm being a bit overboard, but I remember traveling in foreign countries in the '80s and '90s, when we bought fruit from the market and used disinfectant towelettes to clean them before we ate them. After all, we didn't trust the local water source.

I submitted this question to Tom Sietsema's chat this week -- March 11 -- and we'll see if and how he responds.

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The wedges are only as clean as:

1) how they were processed when packed

2) how they were washed after unpacking

3) the items used to slice them

4) the hands used to layer them

5) the others who have touched them

Like, I assume, several things, there are numerous places in the processing chain in which to become tainted. I don't think "limes" are specifically indicted here; I had sliced cucumbers tonight served as an amuse-gueule undoubtedly with similar issues.

Honestly, I won't be surprised if I get COVID-19, and I'll tell people upfront when I think I might be getting sick (and also stop going out). I'm being careful in aspects of my life, while I wait for things to happen.

Rewind to 2009: Three-weeks after the second of two hip surgeries, I went to my General Practitioner complaining of high fever and malaise. He told me I had classic flu symptoms; that evening (Halloween, 2009, around 2 AM), I called KJ, a dear friend, and asked her to take me to the ER because something was horribly wrong. I was taken right in, the ER doctor stuck a swab in my hip incision, looked at it, and looked at me like he was about to lose a brother. 

"I'm not going home tonight, am I?" I said.

"You're not going home tonight," he sullenly replied.

I went home 2 weeks later with an infected hip, and wore a PICC line for another month. That was when it all started, just over ten-years ago.

Six-months later, when I realized I wasn't getting any better, I published this here:

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From Tom's March 11 chat:

Q: Clean citrus

I learned many years ago that the dirtiest item in most kitchens (and bars) is the citrus fruit, and I stopped asking for lemon or lime in my drinks as a result. With the current coronavirus scare, are there any restaurants in the DC area where we can be certain that the citrus has been scrubbed squeaky clean?

A: Tom Sietsema

I know of no such list, but I'm happy to throw the question to any restaurant operators on the chat this morning: How are you handling citrus destined for drinks?

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On 3/13/2020 at 12:31 PM, Bart said:

That submission to Tom was from you, KN, right?  That's the first thing I thought when I read his chat.

Yes, that was me. No responses from the restaurant world. And you and I still have no idea where we might expect to get clean citrus in our drinks during (and after) the pandemic crisis.

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On 3/16/2020 at 4:15 PM, MsDiPesto said:

BYOC? Fashionable "Lemon/Lime Carriers" for the bon vivant? "Please, use my private citrus"

Someone, somewhere, will capitalize on this untapped market. I can envision "clean citrus" purveyors, and the wedges arrive at your table in nitrogen- or vacuum-sealed packets, certified to be 100% free of bacteria, germs, and viruses.

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