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HIS SAUCE WAS TOO POTENT

A CHEF in the French Alps thought he found a way to perk up his beef piccata, and like a lot of other French cuisine, the secret was in the sauce.

At his Hotel de la Restauration, chef Jean-Louis Galland offered a $33 three-course "Viagra Menu" that featured "beef piccata in Viagra sauce with fig vinegar and fine herbs."

Viagara, however, is illegal in the European Union.

On Tuesday, inspectors from the French Bureau of Consumerism and the Repression of Fraud descended on Galland's restaurant and seized his supply of pills, which he bought in nearby Switzerland.

A defiant Galland obtained a new supply of Viagra and offered the same fare Wednesday, using one 50 milligram pill to make sauce for five.

Pfizer, awaiting approval to sell Viagra in the EU, was not amused.

"The objective of a medication is not to be in a sauce," the company said. "It's not a joke, you can't give this to just anyone."

Bad publicity can be good

ABERCROMBIE & FITCH is experiencing no hangover from an uproar over its recent clothing catalog that gave students directions for "creative drinking."

Critics said the article, with recipes for drinks called the Woo-Woo and Brain Hemorrhage and instructions for a drinking game, encouraged alcohol abuse. So amid much publicity, the clothier withdrew the catalog.

"It's just created more hype in the company," said Kindra Hix, a senior analyst with NationsBanc Montgomery Securities. "With this customer segment, you like controversy. You like to be a little rebellious."

The company, based in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, recently released results for the second quarter ended Aug. 1, and it show earnings quintupled from the same period a year earlier.

Paid circulation of the catalog has gone from about 75,000 to 100,000, and copies that still have the article have become a collector's item.

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