Wednesday, October 07, 2009

When you start feeling better again, you feel really good

A stomach virus has recently galloped through our home and turned three of the four of us into groveling, dead-eyed zombies. It always attacks at night, and picks off the calves first. You are sleeping sweetly and hear a plaintive: "Mom, my tummy feels weird." 

Soon, you will be doing lots of laundry.

When I was a child, minutes after my sister or I announced a stomachache, our mother, who otherwise forbade all soda, was in the Datsun heading to the supermarket to buy a six-pack of Coke. Never Pepsi. It had to be Coke, and you had to drink it in tiny, tiny sips from a glass filled with ice. Where did her devotion to this dubious remedy come from? Was there once a Coke-for-the-puking marketing campaign? If so, what an idiotic idea. If so, it worked!

Because I am now raising children who believe that this sugary, caffeinated soft drink is a holy elixir. I know that the secret Coca-Cola formula does not include antiviral properties, and I know that if you drink it too early in the stomach flu experience it will cause more harm than good. It cures nothing. But when I have turned the corner and am huddled, groggy and parched, in a stuffy room, the fizz of Coke being poured over ice is the sound of grace. I associate it with my mother taking care of me, but now I'm getting wiggy and sentimental so I will stop.

I bought Gourmet Today as my next book, even though I need another $40 all-purpose cookbook like I need stomach flu. But Isabel and I spent some time at Borders poring over this enormous tome and decided, on the basis of timeliness, a copious dessert section and the goat cheese and arugula ravioli, that it was an excellent choice. 
I liked brilliant Amy Bloom's eulogy for Gourmet: "There's no need to defend Gourmet against charges of elitism; Gourmet was certainly an elitist magazine, if by that we mean not any old mundane and familiar crap would do."
Michael Connelly's new novel is full of mundane and familiar crap; he's usually better than this. My review is here


  1. Yes, it was marketed, and quite effectively, apparently, as a stomach soother. In fact, my mother had the coke SYRUP, sold from behind the counter at the drugstore, served over crushed ice, for such emergencies. I kept the last bottle from her house because it seems so crazy to me that coke syrup was a behind-the-counter anti-nausea remedy.
    Hope the flu goes away soon!

  2. Carbonated drinks do seem to stay down better on an iffy stomach. My mother told me that her aunt, who made numerous trips between the U. S. and France from the 1880s to the 1920s, would take to her bunk when the ship got under way and would subsist on nothing but champagne for the entire voyage...
    A lot better than Coke, I think.

  3. Kombuchaaaa . . . kombuchaaaa . . .

    I know tons of people who swear by Coke for stomach ill.

    I like all-purpose cookbooks, because I always look at specialized ones--like for cakes--and think, surely I don't need this many variations on a theme? But then along comes blasted Dorie Greenspan with her Baking book.

  4. Hope the family feels better...I think I will try coke if I end up with the flu.

    I was just wondering if you might know of a tasty recipe for potato stuffing?? I have a friend who keeps talking about it and I am dying to make it. Just wondering if you might be in the know about this.

  5. I've never made potato stuffing, but I've seen recipes. The first book I looked in just now -- the 1997 Joy -- has a mashed potato stuffing recipe flavored with Parmesan cheese. For some reason that doesn't sound appealing to me, but I would be it's pretty good once you get your head around the idea.

  6. I'll check out the joy of cooking.
    Thank you very much!

  7. Coke makes sense, since it's got so much sugar, and when you're throwing up you need sugar and fluids. My pediatric-trained dad always gave us jello water and it's what I give my kids too.

    Christopher Kimball of Cook's Ill does an op ed at the NYT on Gourmet's demise, in which he says, "In a serendipitous turnabout 19 years later, Cook’s is today alive and well (I restarted the magazine in 1993) and Gourmet has foundered."

    Not nice. Glad Cook's is still around, and it was likely a dig at Conde Nast, but still. It isn't serendipitous that Gourmet is closing, you a$$.

  8. Girl Detective -- I read that piece, it was extremely strange. I couldn't figure out his tone. It veered from openly hostile to passive-aggressive to sympathetic to triumphant. I agree. Not nice.

  9. I agree about Coke or even better, ginger ale for stomach upset. We used to have more of a problem with this in my house. I have twin boys and one of them when he was little, the first sign of any illness was throwing up dinner. Now anyone who looks at me like they MIGHT be nauseous is sent immediately to the bathroom!

  10. I also didn't like his reference to food bloggers as "this ship of fools" and his guarantee that any recipe you get off the internet will be a disappointment. I don't think recipes need to be tested 100
    times in a professional test kitchen to be good.

  11. Further to my post above, just found that Christopher Kimball has tried to justify his "ship of fools" comment here Obviously there was a backlash though not sure his explanation makes his position any better.

  12. Georgia Jewel10/9/09, 5:52 PM

    In my family, the magic healing beverage was strawberry soda. If I was sick, my dad always brought me strawberry soda. It's especially odd in that I never lived with my dad as they were divorced when I was a infant.

  13. My parents, medical professionals, always gave us flat "white" soda - like 7-Up - or coke syrup and ice....precisely as one commenter mentioned - for the sugars and fluids for when one was ill.