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The late great state of California

From the great, politically correct trend-setting Left Coast, I bring you the following “ins” and “outs” list:

In: Kangaroo rats, vernal pools, fairy shrimp, ice skating, iced mochas, wide-heeled black boots, Clinton jokes, the Internet, term limits, cigars, bicycles, e-mail.

On the way out: Automobiles (especially sports utility vehicles), El Nino, nano-pets, Beenie Babies, “Ellen,” English, Pamela and Tommy Lee, Pete Wilson, private property.

Out: Guns, cigarettes, mean people, Caesar salads.

Caesar salads? Yes, Caesar salads. And this is not the result of some cyclical food trend. It’s the law. Serving Caesar salads in restaurants in California is forbidden. Serve a Caesar, go to jail.

Thanks to an arcane new state law that took effect in 1998, it is illegal to serve raw eggs in Caesar salads anywhere in California. And, of course, no raw egg, no Caesar salad – at least not as we have come to know them.

Why would the state take such sweeping action? Had there been some dread outbreak of salmonella poisoning resulting from the serving of Caesar salads in restaurants? Unh-uh. No, this was a pre-emptive strike by the state’s legislators against a looming plague. The public needed protection. And, as always, government was there to save millions of helpless potential victims from the ravages of this public health scourge.

And that’s not all this new law did. It also required fast food outlets to cook their hamburgers to well done. What if you don’t like your burger well-done? Tough luck. Try Nevada, or some other state that doesn’t safeguard the food supply. In California, the public must be protected..

Like most legislation, there is a loophole in the anti-Caesar law. If the salad dressing is prepared at the diner’s table, the raw egg is OK. Why? Because, state officials in all their wisdom have determined, mixing the ingredients in front of the patron forces the diner to consent to this dangerous practice.

But, nevertheless, that’s not always a practical alternative. Thus, most restaurants choosing to keep Caesar salads on the menu are being forced to serve pre-cooked, reconstituted egg product instead of the real deal. Isn’t that great? Don’t you feel safer now? Doesn’t your mouth water at the prospect of pre-cooke, reconstituted egg product? Aren’t you glad you have such caring, paternalistic politicians at work for us?

Seriously, folks, I’m not making this up. California government has determined that Caesar salad is dangerous to your health. And, let’s face it, there’s nowhere to put a warning label on a salad. So, it’s gone.

Can you believe this? What’s next, I wonder? Are supermarkets going to be required to instruct shoppers to cook their eggs? Is the purchase of raw meat going to require a permit? And what about the ultimate California “in” food – sushi? How long will it be before Japanese restaurants are required to cook their fish?

Such are the depths to which the late great state of California has descended. No more smoking in bars. No more eating Caesar salad in restaurants. What ever happened to freedom? Where does such micro-management of individual lives and everyday commerce end?

There is some good news on the horizon. A rebellion is in the making. And it’s coming from the strangest place – politically correct San Francisco. You see, Baghdad by the Bay is also the fine-dining capital of the West. There’s been more than a little muttering emanating from the kitchens of some of the city’s most famous eating establishments.

One of the most liberal members of the state Legislature, Assemblywoman Carole Migden, has decided to make her stand for liberty on this issue. She has introduced AB 2612, aimed at preserving gourmet cuisine and traditional techniques of food preparation that rely on carefully prepared raw or partially cooked ingredients.

“Where’s the danger in a good Caesar salad?” asks Migden. “Forcing the fine restaurants of San Francisco to serve pre-cooked, reconstituted egg product in gourmet salads is enough to bring diners into the streets. Even a bad egg is entitled to enjoy a good Caesar salad.”

Here, here, Ms. Migden. The law is clearly cracked. If her colleagues don’t listen to you on this, I predict they will wind up with egg on their faces instead of their lawbooks.