A pearl in my tooth

On the Scottish island, a friend and I picked our way across slippery seaweed-strewn beaches, through bogs and heather bushes, and finally down a rocky cliff, to gather wild mussels, kilos and kilos of them. Back at the cottage, we cooked some of them marinieres, and used the rest in a kind of Italian pasta sauce (onion, tomatoes, herbs) which we ate with spaghetti. The orange mussels themselves were delicious, but many of them had tiny, tiny pearls embedded in their outer layers, which made them somewhat perilous to eat. I crunched one quite badly, and it ended up firmly embedded in one of my back teeth! It was horribly uncomfortable at first, but then settled down. The following day some of it came out, grittily, in some chewing gum, but I had to visit the dentist to make sure that it was completely clear. My London colleagues laughed at me for having such a ridiculous ailment (‘Doctor, Doctor, I have a pearl stuck in my tooth!).

Funnily enough, within the week, something similar nearly happened, but with a piece of shot in a wild duck – and for a moment I dreaded the embarrassing prospect of a return visit to the dentist.

Has anyone else had amusing eating-related mishaps? Live octopus tentacles stuck to their cheeks in Korea?Bones through their cheeks during enthusiastic chewing?

When I was a small child, I once swallowed a small, painted metal ‘gollywog’ pendant that I had been sent after saving up the tokens on pots of Robertsons jam. My parents took me to the hospital in Oxford, where I was X-rayed, and the X-rays showed a perfect little gollywog shape suspended somewhere in my abdomen! (I’ve always regretted that we didn’t keep a copy of the image.)

6 Responses to “A pearl in my tooth”

  1. Stuart Fellows

    Watch out: the Carol Thatcher Syndrome will get you. Seriously: were they still sending those things when out you were a kid? I thought they were neat, back in the sixties. But i am now much, much older and possibly wiser…

    To the point: I still suffer misery every time I order crab claws – they taste great, but how do you eat them and not get covered in sauce?

  2. JC

    Once, while eating a salad at a restaurant, I got a fairly large piece of baby frisée lettuce completely twisted around my left tonsil (on a date no less) and had to excuse myself to the rest room to extricate it.

    It wasn’t at all easy to deal with either–kind of like untying a knot in a shoelace, but with the tips of my fingers at the back of my throat, looking into a dimly lit mirror as other diners came in and out wondering what I was doing. I got kind of panicked at one point–it seemed like it took forever.

    And people think salads are innocuous.

  3. James

    The daftest was when I returned to New Jersey after two years of graduate school at St. Andrews. I hadn’t had a dorito in years, and the first one I bit cracked two teeth. I later damaged a tooth on dan dan mein; but that tooth had earlier damage when I caught a sled runner in my mouth.

  4. Leo

    Well, since you brought it up… Here in Korea there are two kinds of san nakji, live octopus. The big one, in which largeish chopped tentacles are served writhing, and the little ones, each bite sized. Even many Koreans fear eating the little guys because if one starts fighting for his life in your esophagus it can apparently get quite dangerous. I’ve only sampled big guy – it was a lot of chewing.

    Recently on Jeju Island, off Korea’s south coast, I ate a beautiful bioluminescent squiddy creature called han chi served in a hoe deopbap (raw seafood, rice and salad.) The tentacles were still gripping and in my friend’s portion and when she lifted up a tentacle, it would lift up a strip of lettuce.

  5. john

    in stockholm, a restaurant prominently featured wild quail on the menu. i couldn’t really believe this, so i ordered them. they were wonderfully done with great flavor. the first bit of buckshot i bit on convinced me the quail were indeed wild. i amused myself by making a small pile of the buckshot i encountered. it was actually pretty charming.

  6. David Ockey

    I’m not sure about China, but the Japanese love their soup boiling hot! Somehow I always manage to forget that and I spend the rest of the meal with a toungue that feels like sandpaper.

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