Tag Archives: food poisoning

Raw Oysters and Other Weird Foods

This is, after all, a blog about politics, animals, food, books…and the occasional insect.

The occasion is that my boss came to town this week on Tuesday night, planning to spend Wednesday and Thursday with me, and leave Friday morning.  But on Tuesday night he ate some oysters.  Now there are only certain trustworthy places here where you can eat oysters this far from the coast.  If he had asked me, I would have told him.

Wednesday he showed up in my office about 11:30 A.M. when I was already at another meeting, went to lunch with my client, and my client later said, “He hardly ate anything–I knew something was wrong then”.  That’s a snide remark.  My boss is a really big guy.  And the client is a shrimp (to continue the food theme).  Of course, I am a shrimp too.  We shrimp are a little amazed by the amount of food a person twice our size can put away.  But the client makes it a criticism–as if he is some noble being, and my boss is merely a glutton.

So on Wednesday, I ended up only seeing my boss for an hour, because he was too sick to stay at work.

Thursday morning, when I hadn’t heard from him by 9:30 A.M., I called him, and got voicemail.  He never answered.  At 12:30 P.M., I called again, and got voicemail again.  He also never answered that.  At that point I had a whole rescue plan in place.

I was going to call his hotel and find out if he was still registered. If he was, I was going to go there, speak to Management and ask that they go with me to his room.  I would insist on a response, and if he was too sick to get up or didn’t respond at all, I would ask Management to let me in.  Then if he was there, I would call an ambulance.  I would have them take him to Tallahassee Memorial ER and I would meet them there.  Then I would call his boss.

But at 2:30 P.M. he finally sent me an email, the subject being “Alive but not well”.  He said he was sorry for the inconvenience.  Maybe he went to the ER on his own.  I hope so.

Now that I know he is okay, I want to kill him.  I wasn’t inconvenienced, you…Idiot!  I was scared to death!

The things that can go wrong with raw oysters are legion.  And people who are more sensitive than others can die.  Let me clarify:  DIE.

Whoever it is who inspects the oyster beds in the Gulf (the FDA?) do a very good job, and will temporarily shut down oyster beds where there is a risk.

One of the most common risks is E. coli.  Then, there is Norovirus.  But the worst and scariest is Vibrio vulnificus.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibrio_vulnificus

So will I still eat raw oysters?  Probably so.

A brief posting about this on Facebook engendered a lively discussion about who first said, I bet you could eat one of those?  My favorite example has always been lobster.  Who first said, if we can figure out how to kill one of these, I bet we could eat it?  My other favorite is artichoke hearts.  Sea urchin has now been suggested as well.

There are actually quite a few foods that fit that category, as well as foods that someone tried for the first time and died doing it.  Then somebody said, I bet we could still eat it if we cooked it/took off the skin/only ate it during a full moon.  We humans are truly the ultimate omnivores.