By Bonnie Fishman / San Francisco Bay Area
The Bee Gees had it all going on in their 1977 No. 1 hit song. Little did they know this title would someday be a theme song for the entire pandemic. We are now living in a time of coughing, sneezing, whooping, and aching. Take your pick: Covid-19, RSV, boring old influenza (without a name), colds, and myriad viruses (also nameless).
Every night on the news, you hear how overcrowded the emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are. You hear the statistics of how prevalent a given ailment is in your home state. You watch the national map as a variant began in the colder climates and starts spreading across the country. You’re a sitting duck. You’ve been vaccinated up the wazoo with every possible inoculation offered. You keep score with your friends and neighbors. “Have you had your fifth Covid shot yet?”
But no matter how protected you are with all of the vaccines, wearing N-95 masks, and staying out of crowds, you are doomed! I’ve been doomed more times than I care to count. As far as I know, I haven’t had Covid or RSV. But these unknown pesky viruses are having their way with me. It seems I get the virus du jour every six weeks. I might have a reprieve of three weeks without coughing, but then I ramp up again as the A-ilment train comes into my station. It gets old after a while.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful that I haven’t been really sick or hospitalized like many. Nonetheless, it’s still depressing not getting a good night’s sleep or doing my regular activities like swimming.
Now let’s discuss my biggest pet peeve about getting a virus. I will blame all of this behavior on the Covid epidemic. Before one enters a clinic or hospital, you get your temperature taken, handed a mask, and get the inquisition about your recent health and exposure to others. Makes sense. New disease, new protocol.
Out of a professional reluctance to see people who may have been exposed to Covid, Telehealth became necessary and wildly popular. You, the patient, basically do your own exam. Take your temperature? Check. Take your pulse-oxygen level? Check. Take your blood pressure? Check. Look in the mirror for spots on your tongue? Check. Soon they’re going to ask us to buy a stethoscope to listen to our own chests. (Note to self: make sure you have purchased the proper equipment from the drug store before engaging in a Telehealth call).
Here is the clinker of all clinkers. I know many of you can relate. When I was sick last month, I had sent a message to my primary care doctor’s office that I needed an appointment. I clearly wrote in the office portal that I did NOT have Covid, RSV, strep, a fever or aches and pains (I had been to an urgent care facility a few days earlier). Ten minutes later, a nice office gal calls me back and says “You can’t come HERE. You’re sick.” “Well, HELLO, I AM sick and that’s why I want to see a doctor!” She proceeds, “We don’t see sick people here”. Oy vey. Then she cheerily asks “Would you like a Telehealth appointment?” No effing way, lady. I want someone else to examine me besides me. Last comment: “Well, we prescribe drugs if you want.”
It amazes me that even though I’m masked, I managed to get colds. The cold and virus bugs have been paying me a visit inside my home, where I haven’t worn a mask. The many visitors staying with us over the past few months, besides hostess gifts, have brought germs. Thank you very much. It still amazes me that many people don’t bother masking anymore when they’re out and about. I’m hopeful that the mask is keeping Covid away at the very least. I shouldn’t say this out loud because I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’ve been enjoying a stretch of wellness now and I intend to keep it that way!
Let’s talk about chicken soup as cure for a cold. Myth or fact? If you ask a number of people, you’ll get various answers. Some say the combination of the bone broth and carbohydrates give the body what it needs when ailing. When I’m sick, I don’t have much of an appetite, but I do perk up for a bowl of chicken soup. Maybe it’s just a grandmother’s tale that we’ve adopted. I don’t care if it’s true or not, it works for me!
Today, I’m offering a riff on the traditional bowl of chicken noodle soup. I’ve turned to another culture for a soup that I think is just as soothing–Greek Lemon Rice Soup. Most people have been introduced to this soup at their local Greek restaurant. I have often found those soups to be overly thickened (you can stand a spoon up in them!) and gluey. My recipe is made with real chicken and lots of lemony flavor. The vitamin C from the lemons can’t be all bad, either. I offer a suggestion of various herbs if you want to change it up a bit.
Tell us here at The Insider what foods you eat when you’re down with a cold or virus. And let’s hope for better health for the rest of winter!
Greek Lemon Rice Soup
Yield: 6 servings
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. finely diced onions
1 c. finely diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 qt. chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. raw skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 c. Arborio or short grain rice
2 lg. eggs
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, dill, or oregano
In a 5-6 qt. stock pot, sauté the onions, celery, and garlic in the oil over moderately low heat until the vegetables are translucent but not browned. Add the bay leaves and chicken. Pour on stock. Bring to a boil; turn down to a light boil.
Continue to cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, remove the chicken to a plate; reserve. Add the rice to the pot. Bring to a moderate boil. Cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, scramble the eggs. Whisk in the lemon juice. Ladle one scoop of hot soup into the bowl, whisking as you go. Add another ladleful. This must be done slowly as to temper the eggs, otherwise you will have scrambled eggs in your soup. Ladle in one more scoop. Slowly stir the egg mixture into the soup. Turn heat down to low.
Shred up the chicken and return to the pot. Cook for one more minute. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Blend in the herb of your choice reserving some for garnish.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.