Chicken soup for the sick cook’s soul
Thanks for your patience while I took a week off, dear readers. I rarely get sick but I caught some sort of sinus illness that started off as a fever that had me shivering violently at my desk and coughing up several lungs. I drugged myself up and went to work because I had plans to travel for a bachelorette party and if sickness tried to stop me, I was not having that shit. I woke up each morning and double-fisted a glass of water and a glass of orange juice to swallow my pills. But by the time I got home each day, I put on three sweaters and a blanket and made a beeline for my bed. I could barely make myself go to the sink to get more water to take more drugs. But I needed some food. After having traveled the weekend before, I had nothing in my pantry but Arborio rice and stale tortilla chips. I waited for the drugs to kick in, and then dragged my ass to the grocery store in my sweatpants and flip flops, my hair looking all kinds of great.
I stumbled around the grocery store with my basket on my arm, gathering everything I needed for an extended stay in my bed. More drugs (the good kind—the kind you now have to show your ID to get because people use them to make meth), more Kleenex, cough drops, orange juice, and chicken ‘n’ stars soup. I’m a major devotee of orange juice’s healing powers—when I load up on Vitamin C, I tend to avoid getting sick if I feel it coming on; or if I do get sick, I don’t get as sick and I don’t stay sick for as long. It probably would have been smart to pick up some Gatorade or something with electrolytes or less than one million grams of sodium, but I turn into sort of a child when I’m sick. There’s nothing quite like condensed saltwater with some mushy star-shaped noodles to make you a little saltier and happier than before.
One of my roommates offered to make me Jello, and, like a complete moron, I refused. Even though I was moaning my way around the apartment, wrapped in a blanket, I wanted to keep up a front of strength. Sickness cannot defeat me! Jell-O is for squares and kids! But as I coughed my way back toward my bedroom, I changed my mind. “Actually,” I croaked, “Jell-O sounds great.” The best part about being sick is that you can get people to do things for you without having to feel guilty. You deserve that Jello and foot massage, you poor thing. My roommate found the Jell-O, and handed it to me. “Here you go!” she said. As it turns out, I didn’t really want the Jell-O. I wanted someone to make it for me.
When I was a kid, my mom had her own cure for a cold. We called it Jell-O water. She’d go through all the steps of making Jell-O except for letting it solidify. She’d pour the hot drink into a cup with a straw and I could drink it while I laid on the couch and watched Lamb Chop’s Play-Along and Wishbone reruns. It was a kid-friendly version of tea and its effects were mostly placebo, but sometimes I’d cough just a little more than was necessary in order to get good and sugared up and best of all, to have my mom make it for me and bring it to me. Only recently did it occur to me that Jell-O water isn’t something that everyone drank and that it may or may not be really strange.
What are your best sick foods? Do you have any weird ones like my Jell-O water?