Apparently whatever the necessary quorum of injured and virally loaded has been reached in Baton Rouge. We get another week puttering around the house, pausing in front of televisions whose channels we’ve already plumbed, settling on games for a play or two before flipping to the next station, knowing that we’ve lost our focus.
It’s like someone invited us to a beautifully laid November table: crystal glasses filled with whites from the Loire and reds from the Rhone, dressing drenched in gravy, the creamiest of green bean casseroles, cornbread that reminds everyone of their own sainted relative’s recipe, scalloped potatoes gooey with Gruyere, something extracted from a mould that is most likely cranberry, and pumpkin pies with a whip cream so delicate that people call it Chantilly.
Something is missing.
For the second damn week in a row.
I’m taking the charitable view that this isn’t some medically sanctioned version of a flopping lineman holding a perfectly serviceable (at least until middle age) knee as if it were beset by wolves in order to stall an opponent’s momentum driven drive. We all tried to get out of school by holding the thermometer under a lamp (Mom: “You have a temperature of 110˚?”) and understand the urge to avoid the avoidable.
So, resolved: LSU is sick. We all have to take a sick day.
When I was a kid, aside from the part about feeling unwell, sick days were fun. We didn’t have cable, but a fledgling broadcast station with squat for a programming budget kept us in Perry Mason, Lost in Space, and Leave it to Beaver episodes. Mom would sneak us protein by mixing raw eggs into super sugary vanilla milk shakes. The world has grown salmonella soft so guys like me and Rocky have to eat raw eggs behind closed doors and shuttered windows, but we’re still around. There may not be as many of us as there used to be, but we’re not done yet.
As an adult, being sick isn’t as much fun. You gotta eat, but the grocery might as well be three towns away. You aren’t leaving the house in your sorry state. If you are going to cook instead of doing something sensible like calling for Chinese delivery, you are stuck with the contents of your kitchen unless you have a freezer in your garage. You can use stuff from that too.
My first thought is protein. I almost always have eggs in the house and pace Rocky and my milk shake slinging mother, they’re pretty good cooked.
A three egg omelet is good for what ails you (I think - not a doctor), filled with whatever vegetables you find in the crisper. I took a few baby bella mushrooms, an onion, and a few cloves of garlic and minced the lot to make a French concoction called duxelles. If your nose isn’t stuffed up this trio sautéed in an abundance of butter and finished with a splash of dry white wine and some chopped flat-leaf parsley puts off smellicules to beat the band.
Don’t bother with cream. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and cook over high heat in butter aiming toward a fluffy interior with a slightly firm and even browned exterior. Right before the end, spoon in the duxelles or whatever filling you settled on. If you are bad at the omelette fold, keep a clean tea towel at the ready to shape it without burning your fingers once it’s out of the pan.
Another I’m-glad-I’m-stuck-at-home-even-though-my-skin-is-clammy-and-my-joints-ache-with-fever-because-otherwise-I’d-be-eating-something-else treat hails from the Elvis-ate-something-like-that-right? spectrum (my apologies to any anti-hyphenation readers.)
First make bacon. Thick is best. I’m partial to dead pig smoked with apple wood but I don’t think ill of hickory or maple or any other hard fiber set aflame. (I just lifted that last sentence from a book called The Culinary Plagiarist.) Next make two pieces wheat toast and slather them with peanut butter. Pile one side high with bacon and make a sandwich that you will be strangely drawn to again and again.
I’m told that my great-grandparents served open faced versions of the bacon and peanut butter sandwich cut up into cracker sized bites as hors d’oeuvres at parties, so if you are thinking that this sandwich sounds familiar and were in Detroit somewhere between the Roosevelt (the cool one) and Kennedy administrations, you probably saw it at their house.
Finally, maybe you want to convalesce somewhere other than your house - figuratively I mean. Transport yourself or something.
There’s a Roman snack that I can’t get enough of even in the best of times. It’s known as Ajo E Ojo in Rome, or “ay-ee-o” in my house. It’s a late night post bar type of dish: spaghetti tossed in extra virgin olive oil with excesses of both minced raw garlic and cracked black pepper. Throw in a chopped red chili or some flat leaf parsley if you have either but don’t go crazy adding ingredients. “Pui si penne, peggio si mangia” or “The more you put in, the worse you eat.” Simplicity is key.
One bite and I’m no longer at my house. I’m suddenly an old Italian man leaned over a rickety wooden table with his pasta and a glass of cheap local red, eating with three men he’s sure have been cheating him at dominos since Paul VI. Bastardi!
It’s probably time to flip the channel again. There has to be a methadone game out there somewhere. You’re just not looking hard enough.
Enjoy, no positive diagnoses, and Roll Tide.