90s kids will likely remember the Simpsons episode where Homer orders the Fugu (or pufferfish) at the Japanese restaurant, only to be told he has 24 hours to live after consuming its incorrectly prepared flesh.
It’s been nearly 24 hours since I ate Fugu, so I’m unsure if I’m barrelling towards my imminent demise, or if my gut ache is just a touch of wind. Either way, I’m still living it up in Japan so if this is my last 24 hours then cest la vie!
There are a few things i’ve learned about unsafe food so far on my travels that will hopefully assist me and my stomach in the future…
Imagine for a moment… you’ve woken up in the idyllic setting of a Railay Beach resort in Thailand, keen to get around doing some rock climbing, or scuba diving or generally hang out on the beach… you wake up 1/2 an hour before you have to so that you can gulp down 2 imodium with water and lie there fingers crossed that they take hold for the next few hours… you know at this stage that if you stand up at any point, you will be calling god from the porcelain telephone all morning or worse things will come from the other end… you know this because this is the same routine you have had to endure for the past week…
… all because of a ham sandwich… a last-minute… “yeah whatever, that will do…” ham sandwich…
The kitchens of Thailand, as a general rule don’t really follow the same strict refrigeration rules and regulations we have come to enjoy in Australia, and their preparation procedures can sometimes leave a lot to be desired as well. I know you’re probably thinking “duh, of course! Why would you even eat a ham sandwich over there?” and my answer would be…
“Yes… I’m an idiot” I didn’t think… I thought I’d be ok… and I let my concentration lapse.
Even though losing 11kgs in 2 weeks might seem a blessing to some, getting dysentery whilst overseas (I’m lucky it wasn’t worse and my imodium x buscopan concoction worked) isn’t for the faint hearted and can leave you incredibly weak, incredibly tired and it incredibly f*cks up your trip… So here’s a list of things to consider food wise (more so in S.E Asia) to hopefully help others avoid my messy fate:
Don’t drink the water…
See above… ice = water… don’t drink that either
See above above… Shakes (i.e. Mango Lassi or any Lassi etc.) = water
If you are going to drink the water, buy those purifying tablets (even though they taste like crap)
Boiling water first also works a treat
Bottled water = OK 🙂
Don’t drink the shower water and use bottled water to brush your teeth
Avoid Cold meat platters, cheese platters
Avoid unpasteurized dairy products (check the labels)
Eat where lots of people eat… never eat from a street vendor with no-one there
Eat what you can see has been or is being freshly cooked
Wash your hands before you eat… there is always poo on them apparently
Make sure the water you wash your hands with is “safe water”
Check that the cutlery is not too filthy… cutlery sometimes = hands
Beware of raw meats, runny eggs and fruit you haven’t peeled yourself
Edit from wordpress comment: Avoid shellfish as the refrigeration temps are all over the place (Thanks Misty!)
And the best of the best tip… Alcohol and spice is everything nice! They both contain goodies that kill germs… while this isn’t a foolproof remedy I can recommend this option!
So there you have it… if there are any other suggestions or home remedies to prevent against or cure getting food poisoning I’d love to hear them!
Is that edible? Are you going to finish that? Can I try some of yours?
Life is a revolving door of food and drink. Major life events are planned around it and the mundane reality of the day is broken up by it.
If you have never tried a particular food before how do you know if you like it or not? I was lucky enough to be brought up in a family where the words “oh I dont like that” food were never uttered and no matter what dish was served, it was expected to be finished. The chef (generally my mum) was always to be complimented… a task that wasnt hard in a kitchen that served dishes like fresh sushi 15 years before the Sushi Sushi invasion, delicious Kelapa lamb curries before greasy take-away indian and hearty home meals that never allowed for leftovers. Take-away food was a once in a fortnight rarity…
Such varied gastronomic beginnings have stood me in good stead for travelling, with a willingness to try new food with abandon… both locally (within Australia) and abroad, the prospect of sampling new food fills me with excitement and a chance to challenge myself… The stand-out memories from every single trip I have been on have revolved around food and drink, the pictures I have taken seem to always have such a theme, from roasted half a pig in Munich Germany, “meat bird” (chicken) in Sigatoka Fiji and the hottest green curry that gave me the ability to see through time in Koh Phangan Thailand…
So the challenge begins. Can I cross off the list of both standard and exotic fare that I have not already tried?
The next trip I embark on is to Vietnam… can I bring myself to eat White ant eggs, soft-shell turtle, fertilised duck egg or raw blood soup? I dont know… do they taste good? There is only one way to find out… though perhaps some of those dishes are too left of center even for myself…
This isn’t going to be some sort of Chanie vs. Food adventure or a mission to eat the grossest dishes out there… I’m sure I can find the most delicious Bahn Cuon (Rice paper rolls), Pho (Vietnamese Soup) or Glazed curries (Glazed curries?) to tempt everyone’s tastebuds but I also wont rule out other “delicacies” if they are on offer…
Except dog… too many of my friends will kill me if I do that.
Come with me on my journey… recommendations on what to sample are welcome and I will endeavour to try them and report back…