Monday, July 7, 2008

When Food Attacks (or How I Spent My Holiday Weekend)

I am writing this post on the L-Taravel Muni line as I make my way from my house in the Outer Sunset District to work. My stomach and I are in an uneasy truce brought about by Dramamine and a thankfully good night’s sleep. This is not the post I originally had in mind when I was planning today’s Fatal Foodies blog entry, but I’m going with the flow, so to speak, and writing what’s on my mind.

Food poisoning. (Insert ominous music here)

Yes, over my long awaited three day weekend (including a party at our house), I was hit not once, but twice with food poisoning; Friday at 12:58pm. And then last night (Sunday) at 8:34pm (I looked at the clock each time the stomach pains and slowly roiling nausea hit. Once a clock-watcher, always a clock-watcher, I guess).

Friday’s bout was infinitely worse. Putting it delicately, the…er…body cleansing part lasted from the first tip up the stairs that a.m. until 9 or so. The accompanying sensation of glass in my muscles and joints stuck around most of the day until I was able to get down a couple of Aleve and convince them to stick around for a while. In between all of this, I was a near comatose sleep interspersed with anxiety laden dreams of how I was going to shop for the party the next day, let alone be alive to greet guests from L.A that night. The latter was a thing of joy to my cats; they love me best when I’m either feeding them or supplying them with a mommy shaped bed. If someone were to take an aerial photo of my bed at these times, I’m sure it would show a furry version of crime scene corpse silhouette.

Dave brought me a piece of toasted Trader Joe’s brown rice bread – this some of the richest, densest sliced bread I’ve ever had and I highly recommend it whether or not you’re allergic to wheat) and later I had a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Neither toast nor soup has ever tasted so good. I was stumbling around the house on new-born weak legs in a short while and even managed to be a decent, if shaky hostess when our friend Pete (known as Gumbo Pete amongst his friends because of his award winning gumbo recipe – it beat out New Orleans chefs), his son Ernie, and Ernie’s girlfriend Allie arrived. We ordered pizza (I nibbled on a crust and sipped ginger ale) and watched DIARY OF THE DEAD. Well, they watched DIARY OF THE DEAD and I napped on a futon and pretended to watch the movie.

By Saturday I felt pretty much okay, had more toast for breakfast and a cup of coffee without incident or complaint from my digestive system. Pete and I went shopping for (you guessed it) ingredients for his gumbo and other party food and I made it through Costco, Trader Joe’s, Safeway (twice) and our local Chinese market (the shrimp there is inexpensive and good) without collapsing, and then had more pizza crust for lunch. It was very tasty pizza crust, btw.
By the time the party started was in full swing, my stomach was making tentative hints about perhaps feeding it something more substantial (my stomach’s idea of a hint is along the lines of “FEED me, Dana!” a la Audrey in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) and we had a little bread and plain goat cheese. By the time the gumbo was served, it demanded a small plateful and oh my…it was tasty. It says something about my constitution and body’s ability to recover quickly that the succulent shrimps, spicy sausage chunks, tender chicken and okra had no ill effect on me at all. From dry toast to pizza crust to gumbo. It’s kind of scary, ain’t it?

My stomach continued to be happy through most of Sunday. We had breakfast at THE BASHFUL BULL, a local diner on Taravel and 46th Avenue, which serves up high quality and relatively inexpensive diner-style food. Their hash browns are the best I’ve had (I always order them extra crispy) and they make a mean cup of coffee. You can get a full on Irish breakfast (two eggs any style, two pieces each of black and white pudding, two Irish sausages, two pieces of Irish bacon, toast and country style potatoes). I thought that might be pushing my luck, so I stuck with hash browns and eggs. Did I mention these are the hash browns of the gods? It’s true.

After breakfast, we fenced (sword fighting) for an hour or so, then shared a bottle of VGS (very good s%&t and yes, that’s what the ‘vgs’ stand for) Chardonnay, which is looks like pale liquid gold and tastes ambrosial: silky smooth mouthfeel, hints of honey, melon and pineapple cream) and then our guests hit the road. We’d done the housecleaning first thing that morning, so there was nothing left to do but relax, possibly get some writing done. At the very least I needed to get my post up. We watched TiVo’d SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, had a bowl of gumbo. My computer stared at me from the coffee table. My energy level sunk quickly once the adrenaline of party prep, actual party and entertaining guests abandoned me. I thought about my post, figuring I’d do a post on gumbo parties, past and present. I decided to lie down for a bit and make a couple phone calls and THEN write my post. I got as far as the lying down and making phone calls part, but about the time I hung up the phone after talking to my sister, I knew something was once again rotten in the State of Danamark.

It’s my post, I’ll use bad Shakespearean puns if I want to.

Ah well. To sum it up, I was hit with the exact same symptoms as I’d gotten Friday, except at about a quarter strength. Way to bookend a holiday weekend, eh?

On the upside (yes, like Pollyanna I will always look for that rainbow), I lost five pounds. I’m mobile this morning, although I would definitely rather be at home in bed, and I’m pretty sure I’ve narrowed down the culprit (raw turkey used to make homemade cat food) and this can be avoided by following stricter guidelines for when handling raw meat.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to make myself another cup of ginger mint tea!


Gayle said...

Bless your heart! I'm glad you're on the mend. That stuff is vicious!!

zhadi said...

Thank you, Gayle. Writing about food when one's stomach is visiting all the nausea inducing rides at the amusement park is...interesting. :-)

Marian Allen said...

Oh,Gayle, you poor dear! Now poison a character after such a weekend and be sure to rub raw turkey on the cutting board, just in case anybody checks....

zhadi said...

Marian, you're evil. :-)

Gayle said...

Actually, I just finished a mystery where food poison was utilized. . . not to kill anyone, the woman was merely a lousy cook and used spoiled meat in her gumbo (no joke, Dana!). It was Mindy Starns Clark's book "Whispers on the Bayou." Good book.

Lisa Hall said...

Food poisoning is the worst! There is little comfort when you are in the midst of it. Glad you're feeling better.

zhadi said...

Urgle...I had a bowl of gumbo yesterday a few hours before I relapsed...

Thank you, Lisa!

Jess Lourey said...

Sweetie, you're not supposed to eat the cat food. Hmm. You could market that, though. You'd be the new, more brutal Jenny Craig. "Lose five pounds in two days! Meal plan is inexpensive!"

I'm glad you're feeling at least a little bit better.