The Time I Threw Up in a Restaurant and Everyone Saw
January 24th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

I mentioned in my review of the chef’s omakase at Yasuda that despite my overall excellent showing in an all-seafood meal, there was one slip-up that night. My boyfriend was taking notes at Yasuda because he’s an encyclopedia of fish names, and I was no doubt going to be writing down things like “Motown shrimp” instead of “botan shrimp”. Well, at this point in the notes, he writes, “Katie loses her shit.”

Let me explain first that I’ve been having trouble with oysters since about my second one. The first time I tried one, at Momofuku Ko, I didn’t even think about it; I just gummed it a little, swallowed it, and put a gold star on my shirt. Every subsequent oyster has given me pause, though. I actually like the flavor of them, which is the really maddening part, and I don’t consider their texture snot-like or anything along those lines. Something about them, though, just subconsciously goes to work on me, and I have a hard time keeping them down.

Well, at Yasuda this night, I actually didn’t keep mine down. We told the chef to give us whatever he wanted, and he started us slow with progressively finer tunas and then moved into some more adventurous clams and shrimp. I’d heard that the oyster Yasuda serves is this giant, sprawling thing that they slice smaller pieces off of, but I didn’t think that bothered me. And the actual appearance of my oyster was like a nice, creamy alfredo sauce. There were some black, stringy parts, but it’s not like I haven’t seen that before.

So I downed the thing like usual and immediately knew it was going to give me trouble. I gagged a little but told myself, “You ARE going to eat this oyster.” Like there was any alternative. So I took a swig of water to force it down, and instead, a bunch of rice came back up. It felt like all of the rice from all of the previous pieces of sushi, each grain still fully intact. I buckled down and again told myself that I was going to swallow it again, laced with bile as it probably was.

And then I just full-on vomited into my napkin.

I held it to my mouth in an attempt to disguise what was going on, but I’m sure it was pretty obvious to everyone as I abruptly stood up, all wild-eyed, trying to remember where the bathroom was from my only other visit years before. A server rushed over to pull back my chair for me, and I’m sure I looked like an idiot still holding this napkin up to my mouth as I ran to the back of the restaurant. I felt like all eyes were on me and that they all saw the creamy oyster bits dribbling down my chin.

It was such a traumatic event that I can’t remember if I threw my napkin in the bathroom trash or if I tried to salvage it and nonchalantly bring it back to the counter with me, but I hope for everyone’s sake that I didn’t carry a bunch of vomit back into the restaurant. My boyfriend just told the sushi chef that I must not have liked oysters as much as I thought, and I felt up for anything again once it was out of my system, but for the rest of the night, the chef would ask, “Is salmon roe okay? Is eel okay?” before serving us anything remotely adventurous. And I felt like a dumb white girl from the Midwest.

I thought the experience might ruin me completely for oysters and was really troubled to imagine a life in which I not only don’t ever get to enjoy that briny, fresh flavor but in which I also have to annoyingly ask that chefs leave the oysters off of my dishes. Luckily, I’ve had two since then and have just learned to chase them immediately with a glass of water. Which sort of defeats the whole purpose of eating them for the flavor, but hey, at least I’m eating them.

12 Responses  
  • Jessica R. writes:
    January 24th, 201211:49 amat

    I live in Louisiana and still hate oysters. I hate their texture and I hate their taste. I wouldn’t have even tried to chase it down. I would have quietly handed it over to my oyster loving husband.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      January 24th, 201210:35 pmat

      Now is that before or after you tried to swallow it and vomited it up? I’d like to think Kamran would eat my upchucked oyster if necessary, but it does seem like a little much to ask.

      I can’t believe you hate oysters, though! That makes me feel way better.

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    January 24th, 20121:58 pmat

    This TOTALLY could’ve been worse. When my parents were still dating, my dad took my mom, my grandparents and my mom’s mentally handicapped sister out to dinner at the nicest seafood restaurant in Shreveport. My dad INSISTED on ordering Carol (mom’s sister) a Pina Coloda even though everyone assured him over and over that this was A REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BAD IDEA.

    Long story short, Carol slurped the thing down like a vanilla milkshake from McDonald’s and then promptly barfed it up all over the table.

    That was in ’68 or ’69. And Dad hasn’t been allowed to order so much as a plate of chips and salsa for Carol ever since.

    Good on you for even TRYING oysters. And you know what? At least they didn’t have to bust out that orange sawdust stuff like they did whenever anyone threw up in the cafeteria in elementary school.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      January 24th, 201210:45 pmat

      Now that you’ve mentioned the sawdust, I’m reminded that my college thesis began with the story of me throwing up on my 5th grade teacher, who quietly covered the floor with that stuff and never mentioned it again. What a guy.

      Aunt Carol really sounds like the life of the party. But when times are tough and I’m feeling down, I’m just going to remind myself, “At least I didn’t white-liquid vomit all over the table.”

  • Cassie writes:
    January 24th, 20122:22 pmat

    Hey, man, if I could have thrown up the crawfish, I would have.

    This is a fantastic post, especially since you continued to try everything. That, in itself, makes you my hero.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      January 25th, 201212:08 pmat

      It’s so funny the things I force myself into these days. I don’t know who I’m trying to impress more: Kamran or myself.

      I still don’t think I’m ready for head-on crawfish and shrimp and stuff, though. I can barely look at a lobster as I chew on its sweet, sweet tail.

  • Joel writes:
    January 24th, 20123:37 pmat

    My first experience with raw oysters was in New Orleans. We went to the Acme Oyster Factory in the French Quarter and no one had the guts to order half a dozen on the half shell. I went for it and barely got the first one down without upchucking everywhere. As a man, I had to finish the rest of the plate lest I lose all credibility with guys that I had been telling fart jokes to while waiting outside. Surprisingly, I had no problems after that and was truly enjoying the experience by the time I was eating oyster #4.

    I totally connected with you giving yourself an ultimatum mid gag reflex. Thanks for bringing up the memories!

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      January 25th, 20121:54 pmat

      How funny! (And badass.) Makes me wonder if I should just get myself a whole platter of them for dinner some night and not allow myself to order anything else until I can finish them.

      I love that you went to the Oyster Factory and no one wanted oysters. I hope they all ordered burgers.

  • Elliepie writes:
    January 25th, 201212:39 pmat

    That sweet chef. What a darling he sounds like!

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      January 25th, 20121:58 pmat

      That was the weirdest, most normal comment I’ve ever gotten from you.

      • Elliepie writes:
        January 25th, 20122:17 pmat

        That’s funny. I wrote it and thought “that’s not quite what I meant. Oh well.” And hit submit anyway.

  • NYC Restaurant Reviews –» Blog Archive » Le Bernardin – Seafood/French – Midtown West writes:
    February 3rd, 201211:31 amat

    […] seen. But after proving myself capable of continuing to gulp down guppies even in the face of great adversity recently, he finally relented and invited me to the three-course, $70 […]

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