Without going into all the details, my dad has been in the hospital for more than three weeks. For much of this time, he hasn’t been able to eat. Even before that happened, he refused the funky creamed soups and broths coming from the hospital kitchen. (This is more due to his pickiness than the quality of the product, but still.)
One day, under threat of intravenous feeding, my mom and I ran to her house to make a broth, one he would willingly drink. She told me about doing the same for my Papa (my dad’s dad) years ago after he had a heart attack. She swears that turnip water brought him from the brink. After reading as much as I have about Asian food-based healing, I don’t doubt it.
Mom and I split up from the hospital, and I ran by my house for the aforementioned Asian food healing books. Turnips, as it turned out, were ranked highly for their restorative properties. So were celery, carrots, kale, garlic and artichoke leaves. Back at my parents’ house, they all went in the pot.
I’d like to report that Daddy drank the broth and was miraculously cured, but I can’t. He did drink a bit, not much. They did start him on intravenous feeding. He’s still on it.
But this story is actually about cooking that broth, standing over it that day in my parents’ kitchen, the one I grew up with. The electric burners I’ve practically forgotten how to use. The now-unfamiliar cookware, which I think she got at Safeway years ago. Searching for utensils, strainers, bowls.
Mom’s foot was swelling, so I offered to take over the food while she propped it up. It was my chance, as it turns out, to pour every ounce of love I could into that pot. My family is very unemotional and shy. (My first one, that is; my husband, kids and I gush to each other on a daily basis.) This was my chance to say “I love you.”
While at the hospital, Daddy has been way down, to the point we didn’t know what was going to happen, and he’s just now inching his way back up. The goal is to return to normal “feeding” — such a cold, clinical term for such a warm, healing process.
I’ll probably never make a broth again without remembering this one. And I may never think of food the same way, either.
Remember to cook with love, y’all.