Fermentalist with a fetish for fatty foods. Don't listen to those looneys telling you that fat is bad for you. Love your gut, eat real food. Writer at Irish Examiners on Saturdays and Irish Independent and Sunday Times, Food and Wine Mag and Tourism Ireland
It's a small complaint, the flu, in fairness. La Grippe, it's called in French, and for good reason, because one day you're fine, nipping around all sprightly and noticing the birds in the trees and the smiley old gent throwing a ball in the park for his dog, thinking how great life is, and you walk through the door of your house and you thank Jesus and the Mary Chain that you don't live on the banks of the river Shannon and haven't lost your home to the floods. I praised myself and life in general for my good mood, cos I'm a grumpy old fart at the best of times, and off I went to the bed for sleep, as you do, happily inside the cosiness of my massive bed as the winds blew up gales and defied deities outside. During the night the trouble started, trouble breathing, turn over, move the pillows, waking myself up snoring, move again. Thirsty, drink water, stuffy, blow nose, snort. Morning comes and I feel like I've been drinking for three days, except I wasn't, I had three drinks, three days before. I look like I've been beaten up but I don't remember and everything hurts like I did yoga for the first time in years.
I grumble at the kids like they've assaulted me, I do an inventory of 'what really has to be done' and I go back to bed. My bedroom has been in a building site for the past two years because of the council deciding to erect a block of flats on the garden behind our houses, so I require earplugs to sleep through the angle grinders as the workmen cut peices off the outisde of the balconies to fix the job they didn't do properly. And into an unconscious wallop I go, more like being mugged in an alleyway than actual sleep. I wake, it's 12 or something. I text and e-mail the people I can't meet for the work and meetinsg etc I'm supposed to be doing. I shuffle to the kitchen and get my shit together enough make duck stock from last nights carcass. Carrots, peel, agh the pain, onions, peel, I can't do it! Into the pressure cooker (how I love thee) with water, a bay leaf, salt and pepper and I'm back upstairs with tea and toast, waiting for my soup. I try and do computer stuff but my brain says ga ga ga ga ga. The flu, it seems affects the noodle. So I give up. I find a book I bought at Christmas and start reading it, it's good. The stock is ready. I straighten out my bedclothes and fetch a bowl of steaming soup, topped with fresh parsley and chives, and get back into my inviting bed. The workmen are on lunch, it's oh so quiet, and I exhale. The soup warms my bones and my soul and I start to feel better. I shrug, sure if I'm sick I'm sick, gotta roll with it. So I roll over and go back to sleep.
My kids are able to cook, and tonight cooking means disembowing a cooked chicken and making soy sauce chicken. This is made by heating a pot with some water in it, and a decent amount of decent (Kikkoman) soy sauce, add broken up chicken and bring it to a bubble. When it's bubbling, mix a tablespoon of cornflour in a cup with a small bit of water and stir this into the pot. It will bubble up and thicken. Meanwhile have a pot of rice steaming, a long standing skill in the kicthen here. Boys feed themselves, I'm gone back for a nap. Sleep, use a lot of tissues, think about going to the doctor, can't face the waiting room of hell. Olbas oil, paracetamol, antihistamines, so I can breathe and a whole bunch of other things I don't have like ginger and garlic. Sleep, sleep and more sleep. The lads get themselves off to school. More food, more soup, book, sleep, mmmmm.
My buddy calls in for tea, she doesn't know I'm in the bed and she stays for chats. I tell her to get in to bed and don't be sitting there on a chair like I'm in hospital. She has brought a Twirl and we have tea and chocolate in bed on a Wednesday and it's fun. My book is the best thing I've read in about a month and I'm flying through it, who knew flu could hurt so good? Last Christmas I had such a bad dose of Man Flu I was delerious and probably would have brought myself to A&E but for the pointlessness of it. So this was being a doddle. Still my face felt like it was bursting out through my head and I wondered about antibiotics but still couldn't face actually getting dressed and going out. Next day I called and asked for that magic word, help!!! Asked for help. Amazing when you ask for something, you get it. My pal, the busiest mother on the planet arrived over with a bag of lemons, ginger, honey and garlic and a ton of supplements with instructions for stuff to do and things to get. The lads were out at the butchers and supermarket fetching and gathering, soy sauce chicken had been exhausted for two days now. They got stuff for curry, a wildly hot ginger chicken dish: SHAN ginger chicken, get it from the Asian foodstore on Baker Place, just add chicken and tons of ginger. Curry is great for colds and flu, ginger, garlic, chilli, spices and heat.
I made a soup wth a whole head of garlic, onions and shitake mushrooms and chicken stock, it tasted incredible. Still my head was killing me and the aches were there, still I was on the verge of the doc. I tried to write a press release in bed, it was cabbage, I tired to proof read a book, more gobbledegook. Friday morning I woke up breathing properly, nicely manky not having washed in days and feeling all the better for it. How nice to take a break from effort, how great to stay in PJs for days. How sweet to see your friends and Mum come in with food and Magnums (ice cream not champagne!), and how great to watch House of Cards on the laptop in bed. Me ma says I can't go out till Monday, so I'll listen to her just this one time, and anyway your ma is always right.
With a little bit of tai chi every day and doing mindless tasks , I feel a bit like I've been on holiday. I've washed jars and made things, done stuff like I haven't done since I was a child playing games and drawing pictures. Funny how we've come to equate busy-ness with success, "I'm swamped therefore I am". Really? Does that feel good. Yes life is demanding, but does it have to take a hefty bug to slow us down and stop? This is just me I'm talking to of course. But I know I'm far from the only one. I cleaned the outside of my cast iron kettle of five years of gunk, it's red again. That's enough excitement for me for one day. Speaking of which, it's time for a cup of tea, my buddy's coming over with my food shopping from the market. And now I'm better, and it's almost worth gettig sick for the amazing feeling of getting well again. And anyway it's just flu, lucky me.