This has to be the cheffing story of the week – and it still makes me recoil in horror when I think about it. It’s not just my mortal phobia of snakes that’s to blame...it’s how the hell a chef could make such a howling schoolboy error when throwing broccoli on a plate!
Alright, I know the cooks are generally rushed off their feet at TGI Friday’s. And I know it’s not exactly Michelin star cooking, or indeed the standard expected by the SSSSSan Pellegrino world restaurant awards.
But come on! How can you confuse a broccoli floret with a severed serpent’s head?
The story started when Jack Pendleton spotted something grey, and well, distinctly reptile-shaped, mixed in with his veg while dining with his girlfriend at a TGI Friday's restaurant in Clifton Park, New York.
"I start to turn it over. I see this gray-green patch,” he said using that dramatic present tense so loved by football commentators.
The reptile’s head – about the size of a thumb - also had bits of spine and tendons still attached as if the horror wasn’t enough already.
A waiter was called over to remove the plate – but not before the 28-year-old art director had snapped a photo with his mobile phone.
"The manager came over white as a sheet," Pendleton told the Times Union. "He explained in five years he'd never run into anything like this."
The chain has since issued a statement, saying it took the incident "very seriously."
"We immediately pulled the broccoli from this restaurant and began an extensive investigation,” added spokeswoman Amy Freshwater.
“As a precautionary measure, we pulled broccoli from all restaurants that received product from this supplier. We have since isolated the specific lot date of the broccoli in question and have now reintroduced the product in all restaurants not included in the product hold.
"In addition, we are sending the object to an independent laboratory for testing. We... regret that this situation occurred in one of our restaurants."
The couple, of course, were not charged for their meals.
But perhaps the most surprising aspect of the story is not that the American refuses to sue over his gruesome find...it’s that he plumped for a side-order of vegetables instead of fries with his chicken sandwich.