Midterms week brought with it stress, all nighters in the library, an obscene amount of caffeine, and of course, campus wide illness. It is unavoidable at any college; during exams week–disease strikes. Having been in school for a little over a month our immune systems start to weaken as the partying catches up with us. As Fall approaches and the leaves turn, tanks get traded in for tunics and iced lattes are ordered hot. The library acts as an incubator for disease as it houses camped out students from dusk till dawn. It’s inevitable at a campus of only 2400 students that the cold would eventually meet yours truly.
And the cold had stricken. Ironic that it had to come at the beginning of the most important week of the semester.
Like any sick Jew, I begin to crave my grandmother’s matzo ball soup. The soup I had grown up knowing as being the ultimate cold remedy. I remember many passover seders waiting in great anticipation for that bowl of delicious love. The fluffy matzos ball in plain chicken broth; the simplicity is astounding. This soup has become a favorite for many gentiles as well, and can now be found at any delicatessen.
With no Delis in Eagle Rock, I was left with few options. I was too sick to drive to grandma’s, so I had to adapt. I needed something hot and filling.
I had never had pho before, but thought that perhaps it was time to take a leap of faith. I seeked out Vietnamese restaurants in the area and came across Blue Hen, a locally grown, all organic gem that offers a wide variety of fresh Vietnamese dishes. Since declaring my major in Urban and Environmental Policy, I was delighted to support the sustainable establishment.
I stumble into the restaurant with tissues in hand, and a hungry, achy tummy. While I have been a Pescatarian for the past month or so, I’m thinking a little extra protein may help with my cold; and since the meat is organic, I feel confident in ordering the Chicken Pho. I slouch in my booth and sip on hot tea as I wait. When the giant steaming bowl of soup arrives my energy already seems to increase. I look around at the other pho eaters for my best plan of action to tackle the noodle soup. No fork, no problem. I am prepared with chopsticks and ready to do this. I slurp up mounds of delicious noodles as I hunch over my steaming bowl. (Clearly pho is not a great choice for a date, but for a cold, it certainly does the trick.) The broth is similar to that of my grandmother’s, it is light but flavorful. The noodles are in great abundance and fill my hungry stomach with cozy comfort. As I slurp, my eyes look around the restaurant. Other patrons are adding the firey red chili paste provided on our tables. I open the jar and sniff and I’m hit with a wave of hot chili and garlic. I feel daring so I go for a scoopful and add it to my bowl.
The combination of hot chili paste with the rich noodles act like instant Dayquil. My sinuses are cleared, my throat is soothed, and my energy restored. Instantly my body is charged and ready to tackle the rest of midterm week with ease. Do I dare say? Matzo Ball soup may have just met its match.