Bed of Pain and Sweat
March 7, 2008

And now for my final act of the night, I shall CATCH A COLD! Seriously? What is up with this season? This is the THIRD time I've been sick since October, and it's really starting to piss me off. I've gone through years without a sniffle, and now it's as though I'm getting my cold-uppance.

(At left and below: 137 N. Bayfront, Balboa Island, CA in healthier times with a difference of about thirty-four years and several licks of paint. And in case it isn't clear, I'm the tiny thing with hair my grandmother's holding.)

While I can't visually confirm that blood is actually pouring out of my lacerated throat, I'm pretty certain that's what's going on down there. Then there's my ears that tickle so much, nothing short of a funnel, melted lead, and a recreation of my mother's campfire chiller "The Screaming Skull" will bring any relief.

What's really awesome is coughing so hard I break a sweat. It's like getting a full body workout with special concentration on my abs. Screw Pilates, I'll just hack up a few alveoli and BAM! I'm bikini ready!

Finally, after two and a half bags of Ricola Natural Honey Lemon with Echinacea lozenges (or "suck things" as we called them in the Vander Weide household), my mouth has reached that enviable state where each new suck thing immediately finds the sore crevices and tender flesh that days of intense sucking on hard, glassy, shard-y lozenges has impressed on the roof of my mouth and tongue.

Meanwhile, getting sick means I get to ratchet up my Scoville tolerance. My first treatment was a big bowl of sizzling rice soup from Ton Kiang. The triad of Alfernesses (or Alferni, as I've taking to calling them to cut back on excessive and germalicious say-it-don't-spray-it issues) introduced this soup to us at Christmas dinner this past year. It's delicate, homey, and pretty much like a full-body massage for your stomach. However, given the constipated state of my nasal passages and the maddening tickle-itch of my throat and ears, I decided to upgrade the massage to a hot rocks treatment. I squirted in some Sriracha sauce and added Vitamin C in the form of finely chopped preserved lemon. Oh, soothing pain! Oh, delicious numbing heat of vinegar, chili peppers, and garlic!

My second treatment came in the form of my husband's hot toddies. To his perfectly balanced concoction of Wild Turkey, Marshall Farms honey, lemon juice, hot water, and crushed spices, I begged that he pinch in a few measures of Lucianovic's Powdered Fire. "It won't be MY hot toddy," he sniffed, but like a good husband with a wife growing crabbier and whinier and phlegmier by the minute, he complied. The power of that Powdered Fire cannot be overstated. If they didn't make my vision so blurry, I would have kept drinking those hot toddies all night, but Jericho needed to be recapped and some attempts at basic hygiene needed to be observed.

Dr. Mathra's Totally Hot Toddy

1/2 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 jigger (1 1/2 oz) bourbon (I'm not exactly sure why we get Wild Turkey bourbon, but it's always been Mathra's preference. Feel free to make your own choice.)
Boiling water
1 tablespoon honey, preferably local
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes

The Shake:
Crush the cinnamon stick and cloves slightly. A mortar and pestle works well for this, as does the bottom of a heavy pan. Put the spices in a heatproof glass or mug and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the bourbon and pour in the boiling water to fill the glass. Stir in the honey and pepper flakes and serve very hot.

I know it sounds completely bizarre and even counter-intuitive to seek such spice when dealing with a sore throat, but I think there's actually something scientific about the heat expanding the tissues and stimulating healing or something. Anyway, it feels nice.

(Also, St. Paul Illustrated magazine has a sweet little blurb about me and The Grub Report in in their newest issue. So, if you're my mom, sister, or Suzanne, you might want to grab a newsstand copy.)

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