Food poisoning & culture
By now, pretty much everyone has heard about my incident at the wedding, but here goes again: I had been sick for a week, and the day I was finally feeling about 95% better, and figured the next day I’d be feeling fully healthy again, I got food poisoning, felt like I was going to throw up at the wedding, didn’t, and then passed out instead.
So I started going back over everything I had eaten that day, and I remembered the fish fillet I ate for lunch that day. It tasted fine, didn’t smell fishy, and no one else got sick from it. But I had seen it sitting out in the kitchen all morning. Out of the refrigerator. And I mentioned it to my mother in law, and she said, “Oh, but it was marinating in lemon juice.” And I thought, this can’t be. The fish can marinate perfectly well with its lemon juice INSIDE THE REFRIGERATOR. I couldn’t believe this woman is almost 80 years old and couldn’t see the total irresponsibility of fish sitting around outside of the refrigerator for a full morning.
Then I started reading Clotaire Rapaille’s The Culture Code this morning. And I got to the part where he talks about the culture code for cheese is ALIVE for the French, and DEAD for the Americans. We pasteurize everything, and are super paranoid about food safety (in every aspect of food, not just cheese), where as the French store their cheese at room temperature.
And I remembered the fish that marinated outside the fridge. Clearly, I share part of this paranoid food hygiene culture code. That’s why it was totally impossible for me to conceive that a woman (Argentinian) of this age could possibly consider leaving fish unrefrigerated, much less find it absolutely surprising that this could have caused my stomach problems. And why the doctor (Mexican) agreed with me that it was probably the fish that caused it, but he didn’t act at all shocked (like I was) or even remotely surprised that the fish was sitting on the counter all morning.
So I’m a paranoid American. I guess I have to accept that. Although, I have to say I can’t complain. I probably would have enjoyed the wedding a little more if I hadn’t passed out in the middle of the forest and then been stuck eating white rice for the rest of the night. And I still can’t even imagine eating fish again anytime soon. I think I’ll still marinate inside the fridge.