|Tom kha gai, a Thai coconut chicken soup, made with lemongrass, galanga, Thai chiles, Kifir lime leaves, cilantro, and canned straw mushrooms. Photographed in the Oakmore neighborhood of Oakland, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Gruel, to me, has always sounded like a pretty nasty thing to eat. I've always associated it with food served in dank dungeons or orphanages. Visions of Oliver Twist pleading for "More" come to mind. We often refer to something tedious, difficult, and wearying as "gruelling". I've never thought that I would want to eat gruel.
Yet looking up the word I find that gruel is merely a thin watery cereal--watered down oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits, or the like. It's not something I normally crave, but this week it's been high on my list of things I wanted to eat. Nothing has sounded very good over this past week. Not even pizza.
When you're on the road it seems that simple foods like gruel are not always widely available. Grits maybe, but I didn't think about grits since it's never been a favorite food substance of mine. The Radisson Resort where we were staying in Orlando didn't have any gruel on the menu in the Bistro. They had fried egg sandwich concoctions and the like, but none that sounded too good to me. There was oatmeal on the twelve dollar breakfast buffet and we actually did have that buffet one morning. It should have been free with the room. That's a breakfast buffet that deserves a bad review on Yelp. I may still leave that review at the risk of being sued.
I've been doing a lot of nibbling on crackers and such. Chicken broth would have been better, but restaurants seem to prefer soups that are thick and creamy or spicy with a tomato base and nothing like that was sounding very good to me. Granted on the trip home we made our regular stop in San Antonio, Texas to have breakfast at Mi Tierra Cafe and Panaderia. If you haven't been to this famous restaurant in the Market Square area it's well worth a visit if you like Mexican food served in a festive gaudy atmosphere. My wife and I love it. The food was great as always that morning, but for the next 500 miles of driving that day my stomach was chastising me for such reckless eating under my conditions of illness.
The food that I seem to crave most when I'm experiencing flu-like symptoms is Tom Kha Kai, a Thai chicken soup made with coconut milk, mushrooms, and an array of assorted vegetables and spices. Not always easy to find, but I managed to consume three bowls over the past week. They were not as spicy as I normally have them, but the stuff sure appeals to my taste. After today's bowl from my favorite local Thai restaurant I feel the healing powers at work. And now with no driving (or riding--my thanks to my wife for all the driving she did on the trip back), I should be able to rest properly in my own bed and get well.
I've been eating my gruel in a figurative sense over the past week--it's been a gruelling time. But I tell you, I sure love those cross country road trips. I can do without the sickness part and fortunately I usually don't get sick when I'm travelling. I'll still keep stopping at Mi Tierra in San Antonio and now when I'm not craving barbeque when I'm passing through Phoenix, I've found a fine little Thai restaurant on Chandler Road that serves some decent Tom Kha Kai. Next time maybe I can call Larry Cavanaugh and Stephen T. McCarthy to meet me for a quick lunch.
I should be back to blogging normalcy on Wednesday. What is "blogging normalcy" anyway?
Do you like Thai food? Have you ever been to Mi Tierra Cafe in San Antonio? What food do you think has the most healing properties when you're ill?