The invalid gourmand

People do silly things when they are ill. The worst thing is, to consult the Internet. The medium is a magnet for fad-mongers. As no method has yet been invented to screen against idiocies, and only an infinitesimal fraction of Internet content is of any value — actual or potential, material or spiritual — it is best generally to ignore it. But as this advice comes to gentle reader from the Internet, he’d be wise to ignore it, too.

Let us be plain. Human beings, as other species, would not have survived as long as we have without certain useful instincts, natural curiosities, and latent compulsions. Men (a category which includes the women and children of our kind) have been discovering remedies for various conditions by observing animals, from time out of mind. Too, by the reckless method of trial and error. We also take counsel from our own prophetic fleshly bodies, which were ingeniously designed by our Maker to submit cravings to our brains, in response to corporeal disequilibrations.

The neurological roads must of course be kept clear of highwaymen, such as conceal themselves in junk foods. One thinks, for instance, of the atrocities committed by chemicals masquerading as sugar; or others that omit calories, for stealth. Never stop for them: all are malign.

Modern medical science cannot understand colds. This is because they are too complex and disparate for the logic-chopping machines, and unpredictably interactive with each unique organism they invade. Which is why one person gets the same sort of cold, from quite different germs; and why the treatment that benefits one, may not benefit another. (I uphold the germ theory with many reservations.)

It should be understood that the pharmaceutical industry — successors to the ancient pedlars of snake oil and occult spells, whose remedies were often more effective — do not deal in cures. This could not possibly be good for their business. Their research efforts are directed to suppressing symptoms, instead. Their medications are thus more likely than not to impede the body’s natural immune responses. Best to think this through. (Is it moral to spread a contagion, the more effectively because one’s symptoms are masked?)

Best, in most cases, to leave one’s metabolic soldiery to get on with the job, and simply suffer until the enemy is either defeated, or prevails. For at the minimum, suffering will improve the character. Focus instead on providing the good soldiers with the resources they need, and have asked for, to carry on the battle. These are what they communicate through the cravings; cravings that might too easily be ignored if one is expecting miracles from some shiny little pill, and thus trusting to its placebo effect.

Of course, old wives’ tales are also worth consulting.

In extreme cases, one might try prayer.

Being fairly ill myself, at the moment — something to do with long walks through chill and drizzle, I suspect — I did the sensible thing. In stillness, I asked for their shopping list. My soldiers wanted Florida lime juice, Portuguese garlic, English mint, Naga chillies, and Greek olive oil, so far as I could make out. They wanted nor seeds nor nuts, for some reason, and so for transport I employed chickpeas, but dropped the tahini. Thus I boiled and mooshed an hummus from these ingredients, to be scooped with soda crackers. Chicken broth was also requested (in moderation), and if possible prune juice, pressed in the Scottish way. Fortunately all were at my quartermasterly command. Green tea was ordered in preference to black. By the soldiers on my metabolical front line, I think the prune juice was especially welcomed. Half pint of that, and they were much invigorated, boldly advancing with their bagpipes sounding.

Other resources may be requested for the later mop-up operations. This is as one would expect; the cravings for them will be issued in due course.

As hunger is indicative of an effective diet, so physical suffering goes with fighting a disease. Foolish is he who tries to avoid it. One may increase it with plenty of physical exercise, thus speeding the battle along. There is no such thing as a painless remedy. This is as true for society at large, as for any individual. Fight requires discipline and perseverance, with strict obedience to signals.


Next morning update. … And so, a gentle reader wonders, of my inspired hummus concoction: Will it work for other people? … I don’t know; perhaps. … All I can say, with confidence, in light of my experience this last night, is that it hasn’t worked for me. …