A Reverse-Food Post

I almost never get sick enough to stay home from work.  And yet earlier this week, stay home I did.  I awoke with a splitting headache.  I thought at first that I’d just ignore it and it would go away, but then I promptly tossed my cookies, called in sick, and went back to bed to lie, alternately sweating and shivering, but not tossing restlessly–Oh no, because moving my head even the slightest degree was really not a good idea, head movement leading inevitably to dizziness which led to…well.

It’s really no fun at all being sick.  Staying in bed curled around a cat all day holds none of its usual charm under the circumstances.  I mused at one point, “Wow!  I don’t remember the last time I felt this terrible!”  But then I quickly recalled last summer in Toledo.  The two lost days in the most heartstoppingly beautiful city in Spain.  At least here I have ready access to 1) running water, and 2) Lipton noodle soup.   Because just try finding chicken broth in the old city of Toledo.


When I’d finally slept off the worst of my affliction, it was time for cautious nibbles of the specialties of the house: dry toast, weak tea, and when those did not reverse themselves for a few hours, ginger ale and saltines.  I have a definite process when convalescing from a stomach bug and have learned to skip a step at my own peril.  After saltines came propping myself up on the couch with a bowl of Lipton noodle soup.  Then applesauce.  The only time I actually miss having a TV at my house is when I’m sick.  Applesauce just goes with Law & Order marathons, you know?  I substituted some podcasts at low volume and zoned out.

I returned to work a bit dizzy, but basically sound.   The peanut butter sandwich I ate for lunch was bland enough to not upset the applecart, and I wasn’t that interested in food anyway, except in a strictly survival sense.

But by the end of the day, I was actually starting to feel vaguely hungry. It was finally time for some real food again.  Nothing too taxing: not too complex, or spicy, or meaty.  All I wanted was some simple starch and some flavor.  Just like in Toledo, when I finally staggered down the five flights of stairs from my hotel room.  I emerged, blinking, and collapsed into a chair at the restaurant in the plaza and ordered a plate of spaghetti with parmesan.  The perfect dish for the return to the world of real food.

So when I got home from work, I whipped up some pasta with a few sautéed mushrooms, some olive oil, butter, garlic, and parmesan.  It only took a few minutes.  Then I lit a fire and collapsed on the couch with my dinner, an afghan, a Kathy Martin, Student Nurse book, and the ubiquitous cat.  It’s much more fun to be sick when I don’t feel quite so sick anymore.

Actually, buttered pasta with parmesan is not just good for convalescence of the tummy.  It’s also good for broken hearts (with a large side of ice cream), or delicious any time as a simple, but satisfying dinner.  Add sautéed shrimp or vegetables such as zucchini and bell peppers, serve with a salad and bread, you’ve got a respectable last-minute company dinner.

Buttered Noodles with Parmesan

  • 3 oz whole wheat Spaghetti
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 4-5 Crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • parsley

Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes before adding garlic.  Cook gently for a few more minutes.  Drain pasta, and add to skillet.  Toss to coat, and turn pasta onto plate.  Sprinkle lightly with parsley, generously with parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.  Serves one.

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