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.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy says:

    Oh, Epic!! I am so sorry for your episode of what sounds like a horrible case of food poisoning. Did you ever figure out what you ate that made you so sick? Was there pineapple in the rhubarb chutney? I got very sick after eating pineapple that had gone “bad.” Never again! If pineapple is served in a restaurant I say, “No, thanks.”

    My dear hubby had an experience like yours, but he had just finished a 16 oz. steak (it was his b-day, and yes, it was 16 ounces!) and he immediately made a visit to the men’s room. The steak obviously didn’t “agree” with meeting up with the rich blue cheese dressing that had made it to his stomach first. Frankly, I am glad he threw it all up. How dare he be such a glutton!

    I have never vomited in a restaurant, but I can create a pretty impressive burp. It is usually after drinking a carbonated beverage. 😉


    1. epicurienne says:

      Hi Tammy, gosh. I never knew you could get food poisoning from pineapple. Thanks for the warning. As for burping, yes, I think I’ve seen what you mean about better capability after a fizzy drink. One of my schoolfriends would shake up a can of diet coke, down it in one and then burp the entire alphabet. It was disgusting but hysterical, and that schoolfriend was a SHE. Then again, the way she burped was skilful enough that she could have been a lumberjack in a girl’s body.


  2. w1kkp says:

    At least you didn’t projectile vomit on the Japanese ambassador sitting next to you like George Bush (Father) thereby allowing Monsieur to watch the rerun on evening news of the rest of his natural life!

    Oh! Poor Epic! Monsieur’s day will come and you’ll be able to feel his pain just carry a towel in your purse.


    1. epicurienne says:

      Hi Pat –

      Gosh. I’ve never found myself compared to a Bush before. I think I might just crawl under this table and stay there! Just kidding. Thanks for the anecdote. I hadn’t heard that one. Heading over to YouTube to watch the footage now.

      As for Monsieur, in our early days of dating he contracted salmonella. I certainly felt his pain back then, and it was far worse than what I went through in San Francisco. He also had food poisoning earlier in the year and was quite green with it during a function we had to attend. So he knows what it’s like, just isn’t used to my highly reactive constitution not being able to wait until we’re somewhere a bit less public.


  3. janmccourt says:

    Revolting, but at the same time quite amusing.


    1. epicurienne says:

      Yes, Jan, quite revolting. But that’s the downside of food. We all praise it, criticise it, talk about it, experiment with it, so when I was thinking about whether or not to post about this experience I thought: what the hey! We need to remember that when food goes wrong, it can go very wrong indeed. Besides, I think people are lying when they say they have cast iron constitutions and have never run gagging to the loo at some point in their lives! To my own detriment I’m a bit more open about such things. And if you think this story is bad? I have a worse one about what happened to my brother on a trip to the Middle East. Perhaps its genetic tee hee.


  4. My personal best IN a restaurant was when I was a kid. I was probably about seven, it was an IHOP and no, I didn’t make it to the bathroom. Happily, I only barely remember it. My parent’s though… well. That one has got to be seared into their memories.

    That’s it for me being the vomit-er, but I have been the vomit-ee as well. Actually, it was just a few months ago. The vomit-er was my four year old son. In perfect parent form, I managed to catch most of it in my hands and napkin before it got on the booth seat. Getting to the restrooms to clean him up after was another thing all together.




    1. epicurienne says:

      Mr Prawn, thank you for your stories. I am sitting here snorting with a mixture of amusement and sympathy. The story about your son reminds me of when I was carsick once when I was little and before my Dad could pull over (we were on an impossibly windy cliff-side road at the time) I was sick all over my battery-powered barking dog toy. I loved that dog. He never barked again after that and he definitely smelled somewhat ‘special’, until one day I couldn’t find him anywhere. I think my mother got fed up with that thing smelling of stale vomit and put him in the bin when I wasn’t looking.


  5. Razzbuffnik says:

    I feel your pain!

    I’ve had similar experiences….. but from the other end.

    Years ago I was having a dinner in Ipoh, Malaysia as a guest of a very wealthy man who had ordered a lavish best of the best food that money could buy. As the meal started and before I took a bite, I felt strange and woozy so I went to the can and sat down….. for a couple of hours until my girlfriend came looking for me. It turned out that I was experiencing my first Malaria attack and I came close to dying.


    1. epicurienne says:

      Razz – thanks for that link. I almost lost a mouthful of water at one point, thanks to your vivid description of the emergency stop you forced the driver to make by threatening to soil his stairwell. Horrible at the time, but is it only me who finds a weird sort of empathetic humour in these tales??
      As for malaria, that’s a different animal (literally) indeed. I’ve never had it myself, but from what I hear it’s truly nasty. You know that Cheryl Cole had it recently, right? Cheryl WHO? I hear you ask. Well, quite.


  6. planetross says:

    I went to dinner with a few friends on an island in Brazil and before the food arrived I felt queasy and made a mad dash down the sand road to my hotel. I regurgitated something on the sand outside the little hotel before trying to say in Portuguese to the deskman, “Please give me key 20”. I barely made, but I did.
    I returned to the restaurant, but my uneaten clam/white sauce dinner on rice didn’t look so good any more … so I returned to my room for 3 or 4 hours of deciding which end should be pointed at the toilet.
    I think the culprit was something fried in old oil that I ate earlier in the day.


    1. epicurienne says:

      Hi PR, sounds as if you may have had that spidey sense that Razz talks about in the link he sent with his comment (above)…
      I was once told that whenever you travel to a new place you should immediately drink the beer that has been made with the local water. It’s supposed to gently acclimatise your stomach to the local bacteria. But that trick doesn’t always work thanks to some nasty little bacteria which are always going to try to ruin a few days of your break. Sounds like you met some of those chappies in Brazil. At least you made it to your room for the worst of it!


  7. iheartfilm says:

    I remember that fake puke. From what I recall, you could get it with peanuts or raisins in it.


    1. epicurienne says:

      Chris – thank you for telling me about the optional peanuts or raisins. Yuck. Next you’ll tell me there are optional ‘carrot’ chunks? ha. Made myself feel sick. Love your horse photos BTW. Gorgeous.


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