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California Heaving

Something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Monsieur and I were sitting in a beautiful dining room that I’d been dying to visit, surrounded by people who, like us, fully appreciate their food. We had a romantic table in a quiet corner and we’d just started the second of four tasting plates. A marshmallowy foie gras with rhubarb chutney had been our first and now I was onto fresh asparagus of THE perfect texture –not too crunchy yet far from steamed into submission. I should have been humming at the culinary expertise, yet every mouthful was a mission to complete.

My body felt all wrong, but there were no specific symptoms to indicate why. My stomach felt fine and my head didn’t hurt, although I definitely didn’t feel all there. It was sort of like being a hologram fading in and out of vision without disappearing completely. The sensation was strange, indeed, but I was determined for this evening to be memorable as it was our first proper honeymoon dinner. Then the third tasting plate arrived – seared tuna, just the way I like it; this baby had been seared to perfection and was stylishly presented in sashimi-sized slices. My eyes said “yes!” but my body said “no!”. What on earth was going on here? I just couldn’t work it out.

Across from me Monsieur was making the satisfied sounds of a very happy carnivore, proclaiming his beef “the best I’ve ever had,”. Meanwhile, each bite that entered my mouth ended up completely masticated as I struggled to get it down. No, this was not right. For the Epicurienne swallow function to fail in the midst of such gastronomic paradise? How could this be? Gastro-bliss was fast turning into a gastro-nightmare.

At first Monsieur was so engrossed in his beef that he didn’t notice that his new wife was experiencing serious trouble with the simple act of eating. Then, as he polished off a final bite of former livestock he saw my plate. In spite of near constant chewing I’d barely consumed four small bites of tuna. That’s when he knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t give him any explanation of what. Suffice to say that we wouldn’t have to wait long to find out.

Next to us sat a young professional couple celebrating a birthday. They were a beautifully-dressed, attractive pair, chatting away happily as they enjoyed their special night out. Across from us, a gay couple enjoyed the flirtatious attention of their waiter, the three of them un-self-consciously displaying mating rituals that could have won them medals at the Flirt-Olympics. These people matched their surrounds. We were all lucky to be in such an environment and everyone seemed to know it. No one was loud (not even the flirt-olympists), the waiters glided about the place, and any request was taken care of in a fraction of a jiffy. But then Epic went and did something that no one in that restaurant is going to forget in a hurry: she burped.

As everyone knows, there are different levels of burp on the Richter Scale and this one was a bridge-shaking, chimney-toppling, wall-cracking and earth-splitting nine with consequences. It was sudden, loud and fruity. Ah yes, people. If you hadn’t yet guessed, Epic’s dinner was about to make a comeback appearance.

In the split second that it took me to realise what was happening, I caught flashes of horrified faces before me, but none so horrified as my dear husband’s. His face said it all. He was wondering what the hell he’d just married and who could blame him? But there was no time to sit and analyse. I dropped my napkin and ran from the room, slamming the door to the splendidly spacious loo behind me. There I did an Oscar-winning impersonation of the Exorcist child with full-on projectile vomiting as torrents and rivers of stomach content (can one stomach really hold that much?) filled the bowl of an otherwise very smart loo. The Epic swallow function may have broken down, but the vomit function was alive and well.

Strangely enough, once the torrents had ceased to flow, I started to feel better immediately, but Monsieur was not impressed. He was cringing in his chair when I returned to the table, and quite rightly so, for who in their right mind would want to be married to a woman of earth-shaking burp ability? Especially if she practises her art in public? I felt terrible. Not just because of the burp and subsequent bodily functions but for Monsieur. This was a honeymoon dinner we’ll always remember for all the wrong reasons.

Feeling better didn’t last long. Back at the hotel I crawled into bed, feeling shaky and feverish, and then made a series of urgent night-time dashes to the bathroom until eventually there was nothing else to throw up, not even a morsel of random vomit ‘carrot’. At least now I could sleep and my recently-acquired husband could have some peace instead of listening to the echoing sounds of a puking hag in the bathroom next door. The next morning I was really surprised he didn’t send me back and get a new one.

Dear sirs,

Please find enclosed the My Wife 3.0 version which I find to be faulty. I would like to exchange it for the new My Wife 4.0 edition, with the non-burping non-vomiting functions permanently enabled. I would also like to purchase the Don’t Talk Back add-on as the 3.0 Wife talks back all the time and although I appreciate this to be realistic behaviour, I really do find it quite tiring.

Yours faithfully,

Monsieur de Stepford.

Well, sadly I’m not 3.0 or 4.0 anything. I don’t come with add-ons or the possibility to disable my various bodily functions. Apparently I am capable of clearing a restaurant with a single burp (who KNEW?!) and my stomach contents can miraculously reproduce like the never-ending flow of porridge in that fairy tale about the little porridge pot. Thanks to my burpscapade I am now also aware that I can projectile vomit just like the Exorcist kid (although I’ll have to work a bit harder at her head-turning trick).

But seriously, folks, I’m curious: am I the only person to have embarrassed herself in such a way? We often talk about the pleasant ingestion of food here at Epicurienne, but today let’s look at the other side of the coin – what makes us run from the table and why. Thankfully, Monsieur and I can now laugh about the whole experience we had in San Francisco, The Burp-y City, but at the time it was most unpleasant, I have to admit. So, come on Epic Friends – dish the dish. Tell me about your painful eating episodes and don’t leave anything out.

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