Monday, September 5, 2011

Too much of a good thing

Olive oil and water
You'll see Escolar listed on menus in fine restaurants. It's sometimes described as butterfish, because the flesh of escolar is known to be succulent and "buttery" tasting.

I recently ordered escolar at a fine Santa Monica seafood restaurant. I was presented with a 2" thick filet that was perfectly cooked and -living up to its reputation - deliciously flavored.

I have a small appetite, and couldn't finish my serving, so I are maybe half and brought some home and ended up serving it to Jack.

The following morning, I noticed something weird.

OK - you've all followed me through my ordeal with my colonectomy. You've all stayed with me through my preparations for surgery, my colonoscopy, all the discussions of the internal workings of the human digestive system. So, here we go again with something gross.

When I went to the bathroom, there was an oily, orange discharge in the toilet.

I was worried. Did my surgery take out some crucial portion of my lower intestine that digests oil? Have I failed to re-generate critical bacteria I need in my digestive system? What is up?

I also wondered what I ate that could have caused it. On Friday, a friend had bought me lunch at a local Mexican restaurant famed for its giant sauce-covered burritos. Maybe the cheese and carnitas had been too much for my system? Or was it the nachos that [The Man I Love] made from some chips we'd taken away from a place in Inglewood. Were they fried in Olestra, maybe?

So finally, I decided to google-research. I never even dreamed that the perfectly fresh, perfectly prepared fish filet would have caused this, so I googled a lot of other words, but in only a matter of moments, I saw that rising to the top of the search hierarchy were articles about how eating escolar causes digestive problems.

Escolar - though delicious - has been banned for consumption in Japan since 1977. The fish itself,  epidocybium flavobrunneum, cannot digest certain fats in its own diet, so it retains them in its body. We humans can't digest them, either, so when we eat escolar, which has an oil content of 14 - 25%, we have problems.

People who eat escolar sometimes experience diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and - worst of all - anal leakage. Me, I just had drops of orange colored oil appear in my toilet bowl. Apparently, it doesn't hurt you - it's just temporary. Maybe for some folks, it's worth it for the deliciousness of the fish. But I'm not sure. As a person who's experienced gastro-intestinal problems, it was pretty scarey even though it didn't make me feel bad.

I'm fine now, after a couple of days, and don't feel bad at all. But I wrote to the restaurant and let them know what I learned. I'll let you know how they respond.

UPDATE at 8:54 pm - Boy that was quick. The restaurant responded almost immediately, said they were suspending service of escolar while they researched it, and will keep me informed. Good for them!


smalltownmom said...

I've seen it on menus but haven't ordered it yet. Thanks for the warning.

Deborah said...

Good for you for reporting it to the restaurant too. That must have been scary after all you've already had to endure. Not a fish eater myself so I won't have to be on the lookout for this particular type.

Janet said...

how interesting!!! I'd've guessed gall bladder problems. it's awesome the restaurant responded so quickly!

Linda said...

You ROCK Aunt Snow! Thank you first of all for your bravery in your posts. Thanks too for reading my comment, on another blog yet! and then for caring enough to tell me about this post. I'm off to read more about your digestive system!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Not to make light of your situation, but how did Jack handle his portion?

Aunt Snow said...

Well, Jack's results don't under up in a white porcelain bowl of water, so it's not easy to tell.

Aunt Snow said...

Whooops, I mean "end up"