Thursday, 23 October 2014 06:15

Alphabet Soup spells relief for a sick person

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At first, when the room begins to spin, I tell myself there’s nothing wrong. I stood up too fast.

It’s been hours since breakfast, and I can’t remember eating lunch.
By 4 o’clock, I’m hot and cold at the same time, and my skin has taken on the unhealthsome sheen of a sick salamander.
Next comes the nausea. Just a little at first.It comes and goes, and allows, by suppertime, the aroma of roasting chicken and Israeli couscous pilaf to confuse my senses.
I rally. I eat. And when a follow up bout of queasiness washes through me like dirty dishwater backing up a drain, it’s hard to remain in denial. Nevertheless, I tell myself again that everything’s just fine.
Very soon, and not surprisingly, I realize I’m an idiot.
The nausea, as nausea will, pools and swirls, pushing and pulling at my insides like a fishy tide, so that when I think to ask for as many Gravol tablets as the packaging will allow, it’s already too late.
Food, the smell and very thought of it, becomes the enemy, and after I rue the day we moved into a house made of mostly dizzying stairs, I sink into bed and drag a blanket over my head. There, I begin to sing songs in my mind to keep from thinking of food, and thereby sending emergency evacuation messages to my stomach.
I start with singing I’m a Little Tea Pot, which proves too complicated, especially when I begin to recall the actions and they threaten to make me mime the end of the verse where I tip over and get poured all the way out.
1980s Sesame Street melodies follow, including such classics as One Two Three FOUR Five. Six Seven Eight NINE Ten. Eleven TwELve; and Rubber Ducky, You’re the One. They plink on a simple treble clef in my brain. Until, that is, I’m suddenly assaulted by Sharon, Lois and Bram’s rendition of Skinamarink-a dink-a dink, skinamarink-a doo.
It’s enough.
More than enough.
I text a desperate message for Chefhusband to please, in the next 15 seconds or fewer, rush upstairs and freshen the nearest toilet bowl. Then, with a hairdresser’s clip holding back my bangs, my stomach wrings itself out like an infected sponge being twisted into a sink.
Whimpering, I make my way back to bed, lie as still as I can in a room that’s spinning on more than a single axis, and repeat in my mind the only song I can remember all the words to.
A B C D E F G. H I J K Ella Minnow Pea...
By morning I’m feeling better. Able, at least, to consider eating a few spoonfuls of soup.
Already, the carcass of last night’s roasted chicken is simmering on the stove, and a box of alphabet pasta is cooked and ready to become part of a simple, restorative, chicken alphabet soup.
As it happens, I may not have been singing as noiselessly as I’d thought.

Chicken and Letters Soup

6 cups homemade or organic chicken stock

3 Tbs olive oil

1 "bunch" (6-7) carrots, peeled and sliced into coins

1 1/2 medium onions, diced

1 cup alphabet-shaped pasta, cooked to al dente

meat from 1 roasted chicken, shredded or diced

flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, bring stock to a simmer, then keep hot on a back burner.
In a second pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add carrots and onions and sauté until just tender.
Add stock carrots and onions. Season to taste while bringing just to a simmer. As soon as it simmers, add chicken and pasta. Adjust seasoning and serve.

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