Why is it that the minute I start to sniffle, sneeze or cough, I'm overwhelmed by cravings for those comfort foods I lump into the "sick foods" category? I suspect everyone's 'sick foods' differ slightly, but for me there are four and they're probably just as odd as some women's pregnancy cravings
- Old-fashioned Oatmeal - the real, 45-minutes on a stove top variety, not the kind you pour out of a paper envelope and add hot water to (or -- gasp -- prepare in the microwave). My sick-food version of oatmeal is dense, hearty, 'sticks to your ribs'. It's full of whatever fresh or dried fruit is on hand, sweetened slightly and seasoned with cinnamon or nutmeg. And drizzled with a bit of whole milk.
- Lasagna - clearly a nod to my heritage, there's nothing like warm, hearty, savory and delightfully rich-cheesy lasagna to chase the cold out of the air and whatever bugs are wreaking havoc out of my system.
- Ramen Noodles - this is where it gets weird. Here I DO mean the highly processed, packaged, extra salty kind. When your sinuses are so plugged you can't taste anything, you can ALWAYS taste ramen. I add a beaten egg or two for protein and texture and the broth warms me from the inside out. I know most of the world swears by chicken soup, but ramen is my soup-remedy of choice.
- Hot Buttered Rum - was my parents' secret weapon against many childhood colds and flu bugs (and often a conduit for delivering the medications associated with those afflictions). Looking back, I have my doubts about how often there was really rum involved except in those cases where sleep really was going to be the best remedy. But it made us feel good.
And that, I suspect, is the answer to my opening questions. As I curse the acacia blooming outside and the effect it has on my sinuses, I turn to my sick foods because they make me feel good. They bring back the memories of being taken care of. Of days when I could just walk up and say "Mom? Dad? I don't feel good" and they'd take care of everything from there. These days I can't turn to them for comfort. But I can curl up on the couch with a blanket and a big bowl of oatmeal, and their legacy of caring, of comforting, of nurturing lives on...