Confession: I Ate Trader Joe's Pepperoni Mac And Cheese And Lived To Write This Post
I haven't been honest with you guys. If you'll recall, about a month ago I traveled to Mexico where I contracted an uproariously putrid bout of E.coli. For two days, my body rejected itself, expelling every bit of me into toilets the world-over. I spent Friday in Mexico on or near a toilet, Saturday in Mexico and then Houston and then Dallas on or near a toilet then in bed, shivering under three layers of blanket, Sunday at my parents with uncontrollable, hellacious flatulence, and finally Monday feeling semi-normal.
Monday morning was stop-and-go. I definitely felt more human than I had in three days, but was terrified to even look at food the wrong way for fear of shitting or puking it out. I started slow with a plain bagel, gave it time to settle, realized I could handle it, and then went for some rice. Then crackers. Wow! I was holding it all down (or in). I was healing*. I was on my way to being a fully functioning human (albeit with a healthy dose of anxiety).
(*Please keep in mind that, at this point, I had no idea it was E.coli. I was under the impression that I had been dealt the nastiest food poisoning card in history. Nothing more).
So Monday afternoon, I packed up my belongings (basically just Cece since I had arrived at my parents in the same sweatshirt and sweatpants that I would wear for five days total), thanked my parents for letting me lay on their couch farting shamelessly, and made my way back home feeling more optimistic about my mortality than I had in several days.
Upon returning home, I decided a proper grocery shop was in order. I was clearly on the mend, so I needed to load up for the week since I was going to be eating normally again within hours. I took my broken self (who was 6 pounds lighter at this point, BTW. Ugh. The only upside to getting sick) to my beloved Trader Joe's, grabbed a crimson cart, and began stocking up as a normal person who didn't unknowingly have E.coli would do. The majority of my cart was the usual: lettuce, veggies, yogurt, another bag of rice to add to my ever-growing collection because I can't seem to ever properly remember how much rice I have on hand. I was doing well, I really was. The thought of getting back to my regularly scheduled eating excited and delighted me. I was ready to not be sick anymore.
Then, I turned down the frozen food aisle. I never do this. Really. I stopped buying frozen food a while ago, but something drew me there. I uncharacteristically felt a magnetic pull toward the rows and rows of frozen goods before my eyes landed on it: Pepperoni Mac and Cheese.
An able-bodied person of sound mind would've scoffed at this combination. "Pepperoni MAC AND CHEESE?" they would've disgustingly whispered to themselves. They would've taken a picture, sent it to their friends, and posted it on their Snapchat or Instagram stories for others to dry-heave at. But someone who's been on her deathbed for three days, surviving only on Pedialyte pops, soda crackers, and rice would gasp in joy at the sight of this dish. She would be so deprived of anything with any hint of flavor, that the sounds of a staple American comfort food topped with her favorite pizza topping would sound too good to be true. And she would buy the Pepperoni Mac and Cheese proudly and take it home and proceed to consume the entire thing for dinner because it was just food poisoning and she sort of felt better today so she can probably definitely eat this, right?
WRONG. SO SO WRONG.
To add insult to injury, I also put a hefty amount of hot sauce on the dish because I'm a sick fuck (but had no idea just how sick I truly was).
After I stupidly inhaled the PMC (what it's now known as amongst my group of friends), I proceeded to curl up on the couch for a leisurely night of healing and surfing the web. As it happens, one of my group texts was ON FIRE that night. It was one of those instances where everyone was hilarious, rallying back and forth for an hour, cracking up the entire time. Of course, whether I had been violently laughing or not in no way effected what happened next but I can tell you this much — it didn't help. After a solid hour of scream-laughing alone in my apartment, I was suddenly overcome with the same familiar wave of nausea I had been experiencing for the past three days — a feeling I thought was well rid of.
"You guys. I don't feel good. I feel so fucking nauseous from laughing," I warned the group thread.
Of course, this made them laugh harder but I wasn't trying to be funny. The nausea was rapidly taking over my body. Suddenly, the PMC felt like a 10-lb boulder in my stomach. What was happening? I thought I was on the mend!
"What'd you have for dinner?" One friend inquired. Still unaware of what a stupid decision I had made, I told the group about the PMC.
"WHAT? WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT?"
"WHO WOULD EAT THAT EVEN AS A NORMAL, 100% HEALTHY PERSON?"
"REALLY? THAT'S WHAT YOU CHOSE FOR YOUR FIRST MEAL AFTER WHAT YOU'VE JUST BEEN THROUGH?"
"YOU'RE AN IDIOT."
"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?"
"PEPPERONI? MAC. AND CHEESE? WHO EATS THAT EVER???"
All of their reactions were valid, I won't deny that. But watching their texts roll in, each one growing in revulsion, made me feel even sicker. I tried to tell them I was sorry, that I didn't know why I did that, that I'm clearly not right in the head and wasn't thinking, that I really thought my stomach could handle it. But when you have five outraged girls popping off at you and your poor life choices via group text, it's best to just take the hits and recover later.
As my phone kept buzzing with their valid objection to my actions, I got in the shower. For some reason, I thought a warm shower might help chase away my nausea. I sat there a half hour, lamaze breathing and trying to ignore those pre-vomit nausea burps, pretending they weren't real and weren't going to win. I was even moving at a snail's pace as to not perturb my nausea even further. I was treating it so delicately, praying it would go away and not result in yet another night spent in a bathroom. I climbed into bed and, unable to lay flat, sat up straight while I continued my fight against the PMC.
Ultimately, it won. It won so hard and so violently. As much as I tried to breathe through it and ignore it, the PMC was relentless. It sat somewhere between my stomach and esophagus for hours (literally, I could FEEL it sitting there deciding what it what wanted to do) before forcing me to the bathroom where it climactically came out of my throat. Four times. Whole noodles (because who chews macaroni?). Barely-digested pepperoni. Spices. All of it. From 11pm-5am, with me never once laying flat because the PMC wouldn't let me.
Have you ever thrown up macaroni? IT'S THE STUFF NIGHTMARES ARE MADE OF.
Never again will I consume PMC. Honestly, just googling it and having to post the image on this blog made my butthole clench. I can't even walk down the frozen aisle in Trader Joe's anymore for fear of making eye contact with it. It ruined me. I couldn't eat pasta for weeks (yay! for my body but boo! for my happiness), but I'm happy to say I wolfed down a bowl of rigatoni covered in Roman Sunday gravy this past weekend so I'M BACK.
At the end of the day, I know it wasn't PMC's fault. It didn't ask to be bought by a fool who had E.coli or rejected into a toilet. And I'm sure to some individuals, it's still a delicious dish — something they would even consider adding to their weekly meal rotation. But for me? Never again.
PMC: don't RIP. RIH.