With the arrival of another Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d write about a certain Valentine’s meal Sam and I had about 6 years’ ago.  Whenever I pass by Café Rouge in Bury St. Edmunds I am reminded of this eventful night.

We sat down and looked at the menus. Sam thought he’d order lobster soup, because he’d never eaten lobster before.  He had eaten prawns, crab and salmon before, but never lobster. The soup was served quite quickly, and Sam gulped it down because he hadn’t eaten much all day.

We sat and waited for our main course, but after about ten minutes Sam started talking gibberish.  To my horror his eyes then rolled up into his head and he slid down the chair and onto the floor in a faint.  Staff gathered around him as I phoned for an ambulance. The conversation then went something like this:

“Is he breathing?”


“The ambulance will be there within about half an hour.  We are rather busy tonight.”

Meanwhile Sam woke up disorientated and announced he felt sick.  Staff helped him to the men’s toilet where he threw up the lobster soup.  He emerged pale, but announced he was feeling a lot better.  There was still no sign of an ambulance, so I drove Sam in his car to the A&E Department of our local hospital.  He was checked over and given the all clear.

I asked for a list of the soup’s ingredients, and he was sent to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for allergy testing.  No allergy was ever found.  The soup contained water, cream, prawns, butter, brandy, tomato paste, champagne, lobster stock, mussel powder, white wine, paprika, turmeric, rosemary, carrot, celery, onion, leek, yeast extract, cornflour, salt, whey powder, mustard, fish bouillon, pepper, mace, coriander, nutmeg, clove, pimento, tarragon, sugar, sunflower oil, salt and pepper.

We’ve never been back to Café Rouge since, and Sam has never eaten shellfish since that day!