Dangerous Duck


I’ve been doing this blog for almost five years–FIVE YEARS!–and in those five years I have never, not even once, made myself sick from something I cooked.

Until now.

Look at that lovely autumnal duck dish, above. It comes from a famous chef’s cookbook, but he’s not such a famous chef that I want to blame him publicly for the torturous night that followed this dinner. All I will say is that if you come across a recipe that tells you to cook duck pieces in a pot, finish cooking in the oven ’til brown, to remove the duck and add to the pan white wine and then lots of dried fruit–dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried currants, raisins–and Christmasy spices like nutmeg and Allspice along with orange juice and some stock which you cook and serve with the duck on a bed of wild rice in an explosion of bewitching colors and smells that’d make you kick the ripest summer tomato away for love of all things fall, don’t!

At least, that’s my perspective: I was the one who suffered. But Craig, who ate the exact same thing, did not get sick and he says it wasn’t the duck. He and I ate everything exactly the same that day–I made eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, though in mid-afternoon I stuck a spoon into a jar of homemade currant jam for a pick-me-up. Could the jam’ve been the culprit? I doubt it.

I also snacked on lots of the dried fruit before putting it in the pot; maybe the dried fruit did me in? Maybe the heat killed all their diseases and that’s why Craig didn’t get sick?

But now we both have nasty colds, so no matter what: this duck dish brings you bad luck. Plus, cooking the duck by itself in the oven for 40 minutes really dries it out; Craig could hardly cut through it and despite all the luscious colors and smells, I had to agree that the duck was a dud.

Don’t make it!


  1. I am sorry you got sick. I have to say I like the photograph a lot and the little dish of nuts (the hardward variety) even more. Haha.

    Umm, maybe eating too much dried fruit did it? Doesn’t that cause, um, issues with going?

  2. I cooked a duck in a similar fashion, sans died fruit, last spring and had a similar result… very dry. At the time I thought it might have had something to do with the quality of the raw bird but perhaps it was the process.

  3. Seconding Kellye–all the sugar and fiber in dried fruit can really create havoc in your belly! Hope you and Craig get well soon.

  4. Once, I had the most delicious chicken salad with dried apricots in it, and got sick from the apricots. I mourn every day over the chicken salad that I can not have anymore. Darn you, apricots!!!!

  5. Food poisoning is no joke. It can range from flu-like symptoms, to full on Exorcist horror show. Two people can also eat the same thing and not both get sick.

    Don’t blame the recipe though. There are a ton of food shows, blogs, and books out there, but fee that spend much time on food safety. Other than Alton Brown.

    Just a thought

  6. Did the recipe tell you to undercook the duck? If not, don’t blame the recipe.

    Assuming it really was the duck, you could have accidentally ingested some raw juices handling the duck, or cross-contaminated some raw food – like an apple you cut up with an improperly washed knife or dirty cutting board – making you sick. Even a small cut on your hand could have been the entry point. The cooked duck could have been fine.

  7. Most likely you ingested bugs from the raw duck – raw poultry is rife with Campylobacter. You might not have washed your hands thoroughly enough after handling it. Good thing it was only one night of discomfort!

  8. food borne illness can occur up to a week after consumption of food; so it could be something you ate earlier in the week. beth

  9. food borne illness can occur up to a week after consumption of food; so it could be something you ate earlier in the week. beth

  10. food borne illness can occur up to a week after consumption of food; so it could be something you ate earlier in the week. beth

  11. Food-borne illness caused by pathogens (the vast majority of food poisoning cases) typically take a minimum of 48 hours, and up to a week or so, to cause symptoms. So when you get food poisoning, it’s highly unlikely to be something you ate that day. Don’t blame the duck!

  12. Note to self: Don’t make duck!

    A friend and I ate at the same restaurant years ago. We both had chile rellenos. I ended up with shigella and was sicker than a dog for four days!

    Can’t figure why one gets sick and another doesn’t – ?

  13. Sign me up for Team Dried Fruit. That stuff will get you MOVING if you know what I’m sayin. Add the fatty duck and whew! You can really do a number on yourself!

  14. hi adam.

    i’m gonna start by saying, oh no! what if it was the homemade jam… sterilizing jars is easy but also a little tricky. can make a boy sicky. it’s probably not, but that was my first thought upon reading.

    also, thx for your ‘how to start a food blog’ piece. yeah, i did it! and your words were encouraging. still needs alot of design and detail work but it is up and running and i am happy about it.

    and finally, come back to the green table (saw your old review while cruising around your site) and say hello sometime.

    keep well!


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