The supper of red snapper with homegrown vegetables looked delicious, so Mike Andrews and his wife could not wait to tuck in.
However, his mouth instantly filled with a searingly bitter taste.
Mr Andrews spat out his food and urged wife Sue Menhenick, 64 – a former dancer with Pan’s People on Top Of The Pops – to do likewise.
But he swallowed a tiny amount – enough for him to join the dozens in the UK who have fallen victim this summer to a rogue batch of poisonous homegrown courgettes.
The 64-year-old music management company director suffered sickness, diarrhoea and even hallucinations as a result of toxic squash syndrome.
This is caused by unusually high levels of cucurbitacins – bitter-tasting chemicals found in vegetables including pumpkins and courgettes – that cause the extreme reaction.
‘The taste was instantly horrific,’ he said.
‘I felt that Satan himself had done his business on my tongue. My mouth was on fire. I told my wife to spit hers out and thankfully she managed to.’
He lost 10lb in four days.
‘I was desperately ill, shaking and sweating. I was having mad, hallucinogenic dreams,’ he said.
He did not realise the courgette was to blame until he looked online and saw similar cases this summer.
Most ate courgettes they had grown from seed, leading two firms to suspend sales of the seeds.
Mr Andrews, of Wetwang, East Yorkshire, bought his as a baby plant from a private grower.
Mr Andrews added: ‘It’s knocked me out. It’s the worst illness that I’ve ever had and really worrying that it isn’t an issue that has been highlighted further – people need to be aware of it.’
Mr Andrews said it took him four days to recover and the bitter taste remained on his lips for two weeks.
‘The courgette looked great, you would never have imagined there was anything wrong with it. But after that experience I don’t think I will eat another ever again.’
Last month Danielle Baxter, 38, from Southend, Essex, developed similar sickness symptoms after eating courgettes in a meal and went to hospital. It took her five days to recover.
Experts have warned not to eat courgettes that taste unusually bitter.
The Royal Horticultural Society says the problem is very unlikely to occur with shop-bought vegetables.