… is food poisoning. Which felled first me and then LL after we dined Thursday night at a new restaurant I was reviewing. Yes, a restaurant’s worst nightmare: The dining critic gets food poisoning. It ain’t a pretty circumstance for the diner either, lemme tell you, after about eight hours of cramps, violent vomiting and, um, other explosive eruptions. Needless to say, I missed work Friday and lay prostrate most of Saturday, weak, exhausted and, for some reason, aching all over. I did keep down some scrambled eggs and toast last night and I had my tea and toast for breakfast this morning; as I write this post I’m eating soda crackers and sipping ginger ale. LL took care of me until Saturday evening, when she said, “You know, I’ve been feeling pretty queasy since this afternoon.” Yep, it hit her too.

The culprit? Either the crab cakes with remoulade sauce or the calves liver I ordered. LL had a tiny bite of each; I finished off the rest. Did the food sit out too long? Had it not been refrigerated adequately? Was it already spoiled when it came from the purveyor? The point is that somewhere along the line, someone wasn’t careful enough.

Now, here’s the dilemma. Do I out the place? A charge of food poisoning can kill a restaurant. Do I review the restaurant as if nothing had happened? Call the restaurant to let them know? Drop the review altogether or wait a few months? I confess to not being keen about going back soon.

It’s interesting, in a way, that in 20 years of reviewing restaurants for my newspaper — 20 years this coming January — I have never been stricken with food poisoning. What are the odds? I’ve had plenty of bad or bizarre meals, but never this. The problem is, there’s no defense; even tainted food, I now understand, can taste fine, but once you’ve swallowed it, you’re done for.

So, excuse me, but I’m actually not feeling quite up to scratch.