The Internet is full of unqualified people doling out advice to other people and this blog is no exception. That’s why we’ve temporarily changed our tag line to the pushy “HOW TO EAT. WHERE TO EAT.” I love food under any circumstance but it can’t be just any kind of food. I need to be romanced. Gin and tonics are for lunch meetings whereas beer is for after work. Vanilla cakes with chocolate frosting are for birthdays, crustless tuna sandwiches are to be eaten poolside and well, lime slime-coated desserts are for Halloween. I want to tell you exactly how and where to eat food.
This is a good thing. If I were an actual nutritionist, I would be telling you to eat food that’s good for your heart, low in salt and sugar, and high in fiber because, while a nutritionist may have your best health in mind, they certainly aren’t thinking about your tastebuds. They can’t be trusted. And since this is the Internet and we have the power to choose the advice that we agree with the most, let’s just say whatever I say is healthy truly is. I know if I were going to choose between the advice given by a nutritionist and someone like me, I would simply go with the one with tastier food.
This pre-defensive ramble is all because I’m about to tell you how to eat when you’re sick. Unfortunately it’s November and with the colder, darker, wetter, and all-around crumbier weather, also comes cold and flu season. Not to mention the depression that comes with the acknowledgment that this is only the very beginnings of winter.
This food will make you feel so much better about it all! We’ve got no-cook remedies, a restorative chicken soup, and a happy-making milkshake that we’re going to roll out over a few posts. Let’s start with the no-cook stuff though because when you start to feel sick, the best thing to do is attack the virus as quickly as possible in order to catch it off-guard.
Chicken fat is the main line of defense against annoying colds. When you hear people waxing on about chicken soup and its magical curative properties, what they’re actually talking about is chicken fat. In her book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, Jennifer McLagan tells us that poultry fat, chicken fat especially, is actually very good for you. It’s low in saturated fat but high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated – those are the good ones. The monounsaturated fat has palmitoleic acid which is thought to help boost the immune system. This tidbit of information combined with McLagan’s obvious love for delicious food is all I really need to run with the idea that chicken fat is good for you.
Homemade chicken soup (the kind with fat floating on top) is all well and good when you have someone to make it for you when you’re sick but what happens when you leave the house in the morning feeling fine but by late afternoon, as the November sun is setting, you find yourself with a full-blown sore throat? First, blame someone else like your fellow subway commuters, then blame your office colleagues, then head to the grocery store on your way home and pick up a rotisserie chicken.
Not only do you not have to cook dinner tonight, leaving you time to get some sleep but a rotisserie bird’s skin – the non-gourmet type – is full of fat and salt. The fat will help boost your immune system and coat your sore throat at the same time, while the salt will help to kill any bacteria lingering back there. It also tastes really good!
Another quick and dirty, no-cook remedy is to have a shot of whisky and/or a shot of fernet because I think if we’re going to start following every nutritional bit of information offered on Goop then we should also start taking Buzzfeed articles more seriously, like this one on the 22 Excellent Reasons to Drink More Whiskey. The real reason I suggest whisky though is because the alcohol will kill the bacteria in the back of your throat and maybe help you by dulling that cool ache you’ve started to feel since coming home.
The other half of this boozy remedy is the fernet, which has a longer history of being a cure-all. This is a strongly flavoured – think Buckley’s cough syrup – Italian bitter that’s incredibly herbaceous. Bitters of course, are widely known for helping unsettled stomachs and opening up the digestive tract. The fernet does both of these things, meaning you don’t have to stop by the drug store on the way home – just open up your liquor cabinet.
It may all sound very untraditional but it really does help. And if it doesn’t, at the very least, a dinner of chicken skin and whisky won’t make you feel like you’re eating because you’re sick but that you’re eating to enjoy life, despite being sick.