Food poisoning in Hong Kong is a sad fact of life. Nearly everyone I know has been felled by bad pork buns, tainted noodles or turned shellfish. It’s often mom and pop places serving Cantonese cuisine that gets you sick. My rule is, if I can’t read the menu, I’m not eating the food.

There is a joke that the Cantonese eat anything on two or four legs excluding tables and chairs. As a vegetarian, this makes my life easier. Unless the restaurant bills itself as vegetarian, I tend to stay away. Even my partner, an inquisitive carnivore, won’t venture into local dives.

I like to say, “Wow, and you went into all those sushi stalls when we were living in Tokyo too.”

“Yeah.” he says, “But they were clean.”

So it’s with guilt, shame and a little bit of irony that my partner got sick on Mexican food. Or as I like to call it MexiCANT food. Except for Agave, all the other Mexican restaurants in Hong Kong are terrible. Think Taco Bell meets Panda Express. One crunch of that taco and your bowels explode.

Originally, we hopped on a bus thinking it would get us to Kennedy Town where we planned to have pizza. Instead, the bus veered right and entered the cross harbor tunnel to Kowloon. Normally, this would have made my partner see red.

“Goddamn it! I thought we were going to have pizza. Did you even look at the bus number? I didn’t want to go to fucking Kowloon today. It’s already late in the afternoon. Didn’t you want to see The Social Network?”

But he was surprisingly calm.

I attempted a preemptive cool-down by saying, “Wow, isn’t this great? You think you’re headed to Kennedy Town for a pizza and BAM, you end up in Kowloon. Life’s an adventure. Besides, I’m the hungry one. If I can wait to eat a bit longer, I’m sure you can.”

We got off on the first stop near the new ICC Tower. It might be the tallest building in Hong Kong but the mall below it has the shittiest restaurants. Last time we were at the Elements mall for brunch, the W Hotel had a BBQ buffet. No thanks. We ended up at Wooloomooloo, an Australian steakhouse. I had a salad. A very bland salad.

This time I was determined not to get screwed out of a proper meal. We headed up to the “Civic Square” area of the mall. Elements is so confusing. You need bread crumbs to get back to the subway. But I know my way around that mall so I headed for the escalator near Gucci.

I said, “Hey, I’m in the mood for my people food.”

“But isn’t that restaurant bad? I thought you never wanted to go there.”

“I went there for a margarita and guacamole once. It was OK.” I lied.

The truth is, I just wanted to sit down and eat.

We entered Cafe Iguana and I ordered the guacamole to start and the chicken quesadilla minus the chicken. My partner got the smoked salmon salad.

Now I have to say that as a Mexican, I have never seen smoked salmon salad on a my people food menu. That’s like something a white person would put on a menu if he opened a MexiCANT restaurant. It was fitting then that my partner ordered it. And even more fitting that a white guy seemed to be running the place. I mean, what self-respecting Mexican would ever name a restaurant Cafe Iguana? That would be like me opening a burger joint and calling it Chez Honky.

The guac reminded me of cow cud. You know, like guacamole only after it has been digested a bit. My quesdilla was dry and nearly cheese free. They should have called it a tortatilla. I noticed that the salmon on my partner’s plate looked rather red. You know, like it had been out a while. I chose not to say anything because I know it would somehow be my fault that his salmon was bad.

“Well, you know what? I ordered it so I’m just going to have to eat it.” He would have said.

Unlike me, he’s somehow above sending things back. I just wanted to get out of there, but not after a second glass of wine–the only good thing about our meal.

After we paid, we walked back down to the mall and almost immediately I could tell something was wrong. My parnter didn’t want to go Christmas shopping for his mom. He wanted to sit down near the ice rink. He didn’t think my game about counting the number of children who fall would be fun.

“OK, I said. Let’s walk to Nathan Road.”

The heart of Kowloon, Nathan Road is lined with restaurants, shops and hotels. We were headed to The Peninsula for a martini and to marvel at the Christmas decorations. Let me tell you, they do it right. I mean, it’s The Peninsula after all. Santa would shit himself if he saw it.

And that is exactly what I was afraid my partner was about to do once we entered the crowded sidewalks.

“Let’s go home. Now.” He said.

“Are you sure? We’re nearly there. You’ll feel better when you sit down in that lobby.”

It is my belief that it’s impossible to feel bad or be sick in beautiful places.

We made it on the train and luckily my partner got a seat. The door opened at Hong Kong station and as he got up to leave, my partner said, “I think I’m going to be sick.”

I had no idea he meant right then and there. Boy, what a mess. I’ve never seen anyone projectile vomit before in real life. Poor baby turned into Linda Blair on the subway platform. He reenacted the vomit scene in Team America. You should have seen the crowds scurry away in horror and disgust. And just when I thought it was over, he walked two more steps and BAM.

My first reaction was to pretend I didn’t know him. I know that sounds harsh but I like to vomit in peace. I would never want my partner to see me vomit. It’s so unsexy. But as I scanned the frowns, scowls and rolled eyes, I became a Mama Grizzly, just like Sarah Palin but gay, male and not crazy. Who were these people!? Who were they to sneer at my sickly partner spewing chunks like a fire hose? I put my hand on his lower back and rubbed.

We made our way home in a taxi. I told him to put his vomit clothes in the washer. He took a shower and I put his barf boots on the balcony. The rest of the weekend up until Monday morning, I was Nurse Betty. He stayed in bed with the New Yorker shivering, napping and complaining.

Cafe Iguana robbed me of my playmate last weekend. My partner in crime put out of commission by some skanky fish at some tasteless joint.

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