Ode to Ben and Jerry’s: A Traveler’s Tale of Food Poisoning


I want Nutella with an unbroken seal.

I want Ben and Jerry’s.

I want American cream and sugar, and I want it frozen, and I want to eat it all.

I won’t even feel guilty.

I want canned pasta sauce so fake it lasts for years in the cupboard, so that no matter how far it has traveled,

Or whether or not it was refrigerated on the way,

The only harmful thing I’ll ingest from it is chemicals.

And pasta—

Pasta that’s been sealed in plastic, and then in a box,

Pasta so fake it might as well be cardboard

And I want to boil the water for three hours before cooking it

I want mac and cheese.


I want plastic orange genetic modification,

And I want oreos

So fake they’re vegan

Vacuum-sealed for decades

no lard, no nothing

just scientific lord-knows-what.


I want a Nutella crepe with chopped hazelnuts on it

From some exotic street food cart

In some exotic foreign country




Some eeeeeeasy country.

Some eeeeeeeeasy country to travel that is as daring

As the stucco exterior of a Rubio’s Mexican Grill

In suburban San Diego


I want no more pepto bismol

And no more balcony retching

No more wondering if I’m hungry

Or, if I eat,

If I’ll just puke again.


I want to eat the breakfast buffet

And trust that my stomach will destroy it

Breaking down whatever egg/bread/meat combo I throw at it

Digesting anything, fearlessly

Like the garbage disposal I once knew it to be.


I want to go back to believing

My stomach was invincible

When I could eat a cupcake with a hair on it

From a hole-in-the-wall in Cuba

Handed to me with bare fingers

Without even considering hesitation or fear;

I want to drink the same water they use to clean the floor

And scoff, correctly, when someone says

“you’re going to feel that tomorrow”;

I want to eat the chicken intestines

Or the pig’s ear

From the stand in the Philippines;

I want to slurp the bone marrow and yesterday’s unrefrigerated meat;

I want to accept what the villagers make for me

And I don’t want to be a little bitch about it.

I want to eat the fresh vegetable salad in Lebanon


And brush my teeth with whatever damn tap water I please

For the rest of my life,

Never dreading the next couple hours.


I want to go back to the day

Before I found my limits

And I proved myself susceptible

Just like everybody else,


When I considered myself superior

To the delicate weaklings

Who felt ill when they traveled

And couldn’t dive into

Literally, whatever was in front of them.


I want to go back to yesterday

I want to go back to yesterday,

And not eat that fermented bean dish

And never think about fermented beans again.



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