Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Ethicist, the Snail, and the obvious follow-up to a post about public toilets

After eating at a place listed in a book on the best restaurants in Paris, I developed food poisoning and spent the final day of my vacation in bed. (It was either the tuna carpaccio or the braised hare.) Should I have forgotten it, called the restaurant to warn them or (what would have given me more satisfaction) stopped payment on the credit card, since I was put at potentially great health risk by a bad kitchen? L. Eriksen, Connecticut

You should have called the restaurant as promptly as your agonizing intestinal cramps allowed, not merely for the joy of berating a feckless chef but to protect other customers. (If you spy a restaurant in flames, you should speak up then too.) That would have been an opportunity for an honorable restaurateur to decline payment for the menacing meal or, if he didn't, for you to announce that you would not finance the fish or bunny that laid you low.

OK, way off. If I had reported the incident every time eating out in Paris made me ill during the three months I lived there, all but the haute cuisine or similarly expensive restaurants in that city (which, alas, I never visited, saving money for many, many pairs of shoes, t-shirts, and the like) would have had to have been shut down. All the falafel stands, Vietnamese places, creperies...But seriously, there really is such a thing as being in an unfamiliar setting, jet-lagged, and eating food you're not used to. If it's not Bartlett pizza or De Cecco pasta, I have trouble digesting most things. OK, slight exaggeration, but there's something to be said for the possibility that this tourist just doesn't usually eat raw fish and rabbit for dinner, and his/her stomach didn't know what to make of that combination.

Any discussion of food poisoning forces me to bring up (so to speak) the Snail, a Thai place which Kate and I go back to again and again despite the fact that one or both of us feels a bit off (headaches, sometimes worse) following each meal there. Why, then, do we return? That we can get there without even crossing the street is only part of the answer. Another is that, as you eat it, especially if you're really hungry, Snail food is quite delicious. So, the question is, did L. Eriksen of Connecticut at least enjoy his/her less-than-stellar dishes while consuming them? If so, then s/he really ought to just let it be.


Anonymous said...

just because uve been on a study abroad program getting drunk in the parking lots of paris does not make u a francophile or francophone.

Phoebe said...

Heh. Whoever wrote this comment has a lot to learn about UChicago study abroad programs--mine, at least, left no time for getting drunk in Parisian parking lots. Also, I don't claim to be "francophone," and I'm pretty sure anyone can be a francophile if they feel themself to be one.

Anonymous said...

oh ok. no i know about uchicago programs. im a maroon alum. but i didnt go on those programs. those r for americans from the heartland who need some exposure out of the usa. its just that ppl like u kinda piss me off when u write french words when english synonyms exist. anywany, no hard feelings. shalom.,

Andrew Moroz said...

People who write "u" for "you" and "r" for "are" kinda piss ME off.

Petey said...

"People who write "u" for "you" and "r" for "are" kinda piss ME off."

Unless, of course, they're posting from a cellphone.


But back on the actual topic, I'd guess that less than half of supposed food poisoning incidents have anything at all to do with bad food.

Much as the jargon for a common cold is "flu-like symptoms", people need to start using the phrase "food poisoning-like symptoms".

Zachary said...

While visiting Chicago this past weekend (for the Midwest Political Science Assocation's annual conference) I ate at The Snail. I had the pad thai with chicken; pretty tasty going down.