Vote on What (or WHO?) Tried to Kill Me Last Night

See this meal? This is the New Year’s Eve meal my wife Cat and I made for our dinner last night. Looks nice, right? Got the champagne, the caviar, the asparagus. It’s all so lovely.

Except one of the foods on this table tried to kill me.

At midnight, sitting right here at our table, Cat and I toasted to what for us was an extraordinary year, and then moved into the main room and slow-danced to James Taylor’s seriously touching rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Then we went to bed.

Don’t judge. We’re old.

Five hours later I was in our downstairs bathroom, on my knees, hugging the bowl and making noises that would make Freddy Krueger close his eyes, jam his fingers in his ears, and sing, “La, la, la, la, la, la.” I was the kind of sick that makes you go, “Oh God oh God oh God oh God” while you wait for the next violent bout to begin. I threw up, hard, three times in an hour.

So. Something we ate last night tried to kill me. (Oh, and see the towel that’s wrapped around the neck of the champagne bottle? Yeah, at one point during our meal the candle near it caught it on fire. Perhaps we should just let God know we got the message he was trying to send us last night, and kill ourselves now.)

Here are the food suspects, along with their suspicious key characteristics:

1. Caviar. It’s salmon caviar from Vital Choice. When I was a kid, this was called fishing bait; we used to buy it for $1.99 a jar in the sports department at K-Mart. Now it’s caviar—but whatever. But it’s orange fish eggs. I’m surprised I didn’t start vomiting the minute I saw the box of it on my doorstep.

2. Asparagus. Is there any vegetable that clearly has more of a problem with humans than asparagus? Asparagus has an attitude problem, and we all know it. Total suspect.

3. Prawns. Again, from Vital Choice. (They’re in the little cup next to the champagne bucket.) They’re called “prawns”—and that’s if they’re not being called “shrimp.” How could they not be angry about that? Plus, we had to tear off their tails and legs and everything. So it’s not like we scored a lot of points with the Prawn Gods. I’m surprised Willie the Whale didn’t come smashing through our front door and squash us.

4. Creme fraiche. It’s some kind soured cream you eat with caviar. It contains bacterial culture. I don’t like bacteria; I don’t like culture. This is probably the culprit.

5. Champagne. It’s Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. Champagne annoys me. Is it booze? Soda? Wine having a nervous breakdown? I don’t like it. And it seems it may not like me.

6. French bread. Probably not guilty of making me sick. But it is French. So … you know.

7. Lemons. They’re very sour. Enough said.

8. Potatoes. Potatoes are like dogs: they live only to please. Not guilty.

So there you have the primary suspects. Which of these foods do you think tried to kill me? And why didn’t that same food try to kill Cat? We both ate whatever it was. Yet somehow she escaped.

Hmmmm. It’s almost as if she ….

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John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://melindasmusings.com Melinda

    My theory is that it was none of the above but something else you ate earlier in the day. It can sometimes take several hours for food poisoning to take effect. Or maybe it wasn't poisoning at all but a virus… It's always hard to tell what caused a stomach bug.

  • Jeanette

    I would say the cavier, some people experience food poisoning from seafood.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    Sounds to me like you're a prawn in a game being played by two guys named Gus.

  • Judy

    I'm sorry to hear you were sick. I'm going with a gastrointestinal virus as the culprit. Or, Cat tried to kill you. Gingerale over crushed ice will make you feel much better.

    Also, I agree with #8. Potatoes DO live only to please.

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    Yuck! Heck of a way to ring in the New Year. i did that last year, no fun.

    I suspect like Melinda suggested that it was probably something earlier in the day if not the night before. Or, maybe just a stomach bug. Either way, hope you're feeling better soon!

  • http://cloakandparchments.blogspot.com/2009/12/remembering-larry-norman.html phil

    Well………….you are alive! But you also need to address the other 364 days. Hey, I think you should be thanking the Lacto Bacilli in that cream thing… probably saved your life. or not……. duuu….ddddda!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks for the input, you guys (and for the terrible joke, Brian). I spent the day lying on the couch watching moves. Watched Shrek 2, Napoleon Dynamite, and Charlie Wilson's War. Should be quite a year.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    WELL … there's a big difference between "Uncle Josh's Salmon Eggs" (those bright pink blueberry-sized things you buy in little plastic jars in fishing tackle stores) and the kind of fine salmon roe they serve un top of balls of rice in sushi restaurants. The latter I ADORE; it simply tastes like the SEA. Anyway, I've never heard of anyone getting food poisoning from caviar.

    The creme fraiche? Probably not the cause of your illness. But I wouldn't spend money buying it. Just get some sour cream and thin it down with a little whipping cream, and it'll be just as good. And the kind of bacteria found in yogurt and other dairy products is usually GOOD for you.

    Asparagus? That depends on how it was handled on the way to the market. Any vegetable picker or grocery store employee who doesn't wash his hands after a poo risks transmitting any number of gastrointestinal bugs like Norwalk, etc. This sort of thing happens all the time.

    Prawns? It's possible. Crustaceans are notorious for carrying nasty parasites.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hey, Chuck A! It's good to hear from you! Happy New Year! I was pretty blurry-eyed when I wrote this post, and perhaps should have made clearer that I do understand fishing bait isn't the same as caviar. I was just being (apparently not all that) funny. Tastes like the sea! Exactly right, isn't it? Thanks for writing in.

  • textjunkie

    I'm betting prawns. But it could be anything you ate up to 48 hours previously, so they may all be innocent…

  • http://www.epcomm.com/ddawson Dennis Dawson

    The problem with the finer things is that most of us don't have a chance to develop a tolerance for them. I ate frozen buffalo chicken strips, tater tots, and cole slaw (it had ranch dressing, so I'm not sure it still qualifies) on New Year's Eve, had a small spiked egg nog and a shot of Jim Beam, neat. Given that this is pretty typical fare for yours truly, no problems noted.

    My guess is that your system wasn't ready for all that schmancy cuisine at one time. Either that, or God was punishing you for misdeeds in 2009, and you get to start the new year purged of your sins. Lucky bastard.

  • http://www.sisterfriends-together.org anita

    My money will always go toward the fish being most suspect but then you throw me off with caviar AND prawns…..caviar? prawns? caviar? prawns?

    Prawns. Definitely the prawns.

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    There was a good reason God preferred that man abstain from eating shell fish. But all things being legal, yet not always expedient—unless it was beneficial for you to hug your potty,

    Two questions. 1. Are you the chef. 2. Are you a finger licker? I've infected myself on a couple of occasions with bacteria while prepping a meal of fish or chicken and forgot to wash my hands before dipping my finger into a sauce to taste test.

    Oy! Hope you're feeling better today.

  • onemansbeliefs

    What? No dessert???

  • Bob

    Pretty rich stuff to be having late and then hitting the sack. You may have just turned yourself into a fermentation vat. Digestion probably was not taking place. Cat may of not consumed with your gusto or has a better stomach for such things. Ya'll can get digestive supplements at most health food places. NOT tums or rolaids they slow the whole business down even worse. Us old fuds (as in Elmer) need all the help we can get. My daughter suggests aloe digestive juice or papaya-pineapple juice (same store) if'n you're still feeling pukey. Maybe you doing this first thing this year is like eating a frog in the morning… the worst parts over and you can get on with important stuff. Peace bro.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    Technically John, it was two terrible jokes. But who's counting? haha

  • Lisa

    I’m thinkin it was James Taylor’s Auld Lang Syne. Some things should be forgotten.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    I know I'm late with this but..5 hours is a long time to have that type of violent reaction to your meal, if it was due to food poisoning. Especially if Cat didn't succumb.

    Since you only list vomiting and no additional side effects like diarrhea (and you lived) then it sounds like either Staphylococcus aureus or Bacillus cereus. It's possible that only the items that you ate were contaminated with staph (unlikely). The likely suspect in this case would be the asparagus, as it will sit out for long periods at room temperature before cooking, allowing the staph to produce toxins that will not cook out. But then you'd be tossing your cookies within the hour. Bacillus cereus is associated with potatoes, but why didin't Cat get sick.

    If it were prawns then it would most likely be Vibrio but that wouldn't have come on so quickly, would have lasted a day or two and you would most likely have had diarrhea.

    Fish eggs are pretty safe and the cheap stuff you were eating is so loaded with salt that nothing could probably live in it.

    The culture in the creme fraiche actually discourages contamination, with the exception of staph.

    So…you either had the flu or you are a pansy and can't handle your bubbly.

  • jennifer

    by watching numerous old original scooby doo reruns i feel confident in the most suspicious item sitting at the table. but also noting that it could have been the closest to the project (Cat) or perhaps the least likely (the potatoes).


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