The aphorism "life is full of surprises," proved all too true for Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (???) when an unexpected breakfast surprise turned into a medical emergency on New Year's day.
Hsu rushed to a hospital in New Taipei's Xindian District on Sunday morning to seek emergency medical treatment for a sharp pain in his throat.
On his Facebook page the government spokesman and former lawmaker revealed he had inadvertently eaten poisonous vegetable tubers that look similar to taro.
"I was in an extremely good mood after attending a New Year flag-raising ceremony and watching a performance by the military's honor guard," Hsu wrote.
After returning home, he had vegetable and rice porridge for breakfast, but no sooner had he swallowed three chunks of "taro" than he found himself wondering "why was the taro stir-fried with chilli?"
Following a few bites he experienced a sudden sharp pain in his throat, Hsu said, "My throat was in agony followed by my stomach. I was poisoned."
"Who the hell picked Kupoyu from the backyard to cook when the yard is planted with taro?" he asked in the FB post.
Kupoyu (???) is the Chinese word for a taro-like plant named "alocasia odora," also called night-scented lily, Asian taro or giant upright elephant ear, which is native to East and Southeast Asia.
The plant is inedible because its swollen tubers, flowers and juice from its stem are poisonous. People occasionally eat the plant's tubers by mistake because they look similar to taro in appearance, according to the Biodiversity Research Center under Academia Sinica.
Asked by reporters about the accident through text message, Hsu said he had returned from the hospital, but was still unable to speak and experiencing throat pain.
"After such bad luck on the first day of the new year, I hope the rest of 2017 goes like clockwork," he texted.
Hsu did not explain who cooked the dish, but said there are several taro plants in his backyard and it is likely the Kupoyu seeds blew into the yard and grew there without anyone realizing, leading to them being cooked for his breakfast.
"Fortunately I was the only one to get up early and have breakfast," Hsu added.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel