Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Liver Crisis

I wrote this article yesterday for my newspaper column and I was late getting it in. My editor waited for it all morning and what had I been doing? Sleeping!  But I have a great excuse. A very French excuse. I’m in the throes of a Liver Crisis!

The first time I heard that term…it’s Crise de Foie in French…I was really confused. I mean, what is a liver crisis? Hepatitis? Cirrhosis? WHAT?? And if it is one of these horrible conditions, why do so many French people seem to suffer from it?

And it’s always explained to me that it’s when your liver has just had too much…too much rich food, too much alcohol, too much coffee…and too little of all the things it needs to stay out of a crisis. The French are very close to their livers. They talk about them all the time. I’ve never met an American who had such a personal relationship with his or her liver.

I spent this past weekend in the Camargue with my girlfriends and we had a wonderful girl-weekend. An article about this special area called the Camargue is upcoming but, as I said, I’ve been thwarted by my liver. In any case, we spent the weekend eating (in large quantities…at least in my case) mussels in oil and garlic, salmon tartare, tellines in cream and butter (another local shellfish), bouillabaisse (a local fish soup), strawberry gateau, American chocolate chip cookies, pizza…I’m sure there’s more. Of course, this is France and we added champagne with ginger, red wine, white wine and rosé, Suze (a type of local liquor) some other type of local liqueur whose name escapes me, and lots of coffee because we spent too much time laughing and talking and not enough time sleeping. You get the drift. All wonderful and not to be missed but certainly not our habitual lifestyle (really…it isn’t!). And the only exercise we got was shopping. Which is certainly not all that strenuous except on the wallet. Soooo….

My friend Claire, who is French, kept remarking that she was sure that this was going to turn into a Crise de Foie. She also tried to explain what it was but I eventually looked up a French web site on the subject and translated it.

“Bloating, nausea, vomiting, heaviness, headache, heartburn, burping or flatulence…. these manifestations of liver crisis often occur after the holiday meal”

So in fact, this is just plain old indigestion with possibly a hangover added for good measure and has nothing whatsoever to do with the liver. But don’t tell the French that! Believe me, that’s been tried and nobody is buying it. As a matter of fact, with a full-fledged liver crisis you can go to your friendly, local pharmacist, who is everybody’s best friend, explain your symptoms and even though he or she knows it’s really not a liver problem, it will still be described that way and you can load up on all sorts of powders and potions. There are a number of websites that give advice on how to deal with this disaster after the fact, as well as how to prepare for the event that is sure to cause the crisis in the first place.

All I know is that my crise hit me in the car about halfway home on Sunday night. And I’m still feeling the effects.  I’ve perused all the websites and I know that I’m supposed to eat only vegetables and soup, avoid coffee, alcohol and cigarettes, drink lots of tea, possible take a syrup called Hepatoum and get lots of sleep. Which is what I’m doing....mostly. Because I’m in France…and by golly, I’m in crisis!  I do have to say however…it was well worth it!



  1. You want to look after yourself, girlie....

    You'll never get a boyfriend if you get fat!

    All the best


  2. I'd better brace myself for Saturday night then - I plan to have fun getting my liver into a state of crisis.

    Your selection of food and drink sounded wonderful - love the photo. Only you could still look good tackling a mussel.

    And yes - we will so meet one day

  3. Keith- boyfriends are just too much trouble. I think I'm going to get chickens!

    Julie-AND I got all the recipes! The websites say....get plenty of sleep before, a bland diet...blah, blah, blah. I say....prepare by giving your stomach a taste of what is to come. Of course, that didn't work very
    And, by the way, that photo was taken Friday night..notice there are no photos of me Sunday night!

  4. Delana,
    That is so funny. When I was talking to you today I was going to tell you that I was having stomach problems and having doctor appointments! I decided not to mention it in favor of other topics of discussion. Now that I read this article, we could have commiserated with each other!. I'm so bummed. no more red wine and liquor for me for awhile!
    Maybe I'll just tell my doctor that my French friend told me I am having a" liver crisis "and maybe I won't have to do that darn test he says everyone needs after age 50.

  5. Spending time with friends . . . eating, drinking and laughing to your hearts' contents . . . now THAT is one of the secrets to life ;-)

  6. I have just recently read about "liver crisis"... I think I may have been the victim of this "crisis" as well. My last visit in April (three weeks in Paris), I began to develop a large, red, angry bump on my chin. This was no ordinary was almost a new chin being born! Oui! It was not my best Paris "look"... but,I soldiered on! What is a girl to do? I definitely think it was the result of my liver being in crisis! I never break out and I am way beyond my teenage years. It is now nearing mid July and I still have some red angriness in the chin area. I have to say that this happened to me once before in must be all the cafe creme, croissants, and desserts that I am enjoying every single day!

    Thanks for the great explanation. Now I just need to figure out how to prepare for my next trip in November~

    A bientot,
    Henri Coleman


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