I've been begging my friends to try the restaurant for the last year, but most of them rejected it instantly as "too weird." Finally, last week, Bobby and I decided to make dinner a surprise. We gave Ryan, our usual driver, directions to it without identifying it. When we arrived, most burst into whining resistance.
The restaurant was packed. Ryan, who was particularly opposed to eating there, asked at the bar for a Bloody Mary and was incensed when he was informed they had no tomato juice on hand. "Just as I expected!" he barked. "Terrible ambiance and service. Next week we are going to Chili's - someplace normal."
After terrified deliberation and quizzing our server about every dish, we ordered. Just as I expected, everyone liked the food. I felt smug.
Then God punished me for my smugness.
In about 24 hours, in the middle of the night, I awoke with stabbing stomach pains, nausea, a throat full of acid, and spasms of my entire GI tract. TMI, I know. Bobby had the same experience. And another of us, Frank, had a more moderate reaction. It lasted over three days for Bobby and me and, four days later, I was still exhausted.
I've written about the frequency of food poisoning several times in the past. I never bother to call a restaurant about it unless someone else at my table also gets sick. Even when there are multiple cases, most restaurant owners and chefs simply deny it. I can understand why. My hope is that they take care of the problem, anyway. In this case, as best I can figure, it was a hot sauce on the table, since it's the only thing all three of us ate.
One common source of poisoning now is raw milk, which has become trendy, even though pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk.
Fortunately, restaurants are subject to twice-yearly health department inspections. Many of the categories on the reports are related to food-borne illness. The restaurant where we got sick has a history of high scores, the last one being 96 in July. I'm not naming it, because this seems to be a complete anomaly. I did report the incident to the restaurant's general manager.
Oh. Message to Ryan: Chili's is pretty notorious for reports and lawsuits as a result of alleged food poisoning.
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