I had the unexpected pleasure of watching the World Cup final uninterrupted by my children’s bedtime a couple of weeks ago. Admittedly the quality of the football on show was, shall we say, less than the Total Football we’d like to have seen from Holland (mind you, they lost the final anyway when they were doing that) and the “tic tac” football that Spain played during the warm-up to this tournament and then forgot all about as soon as it got serious. But bedtime for my boys was several miles away, ensconsed, as I was, in the Ear, Nose and Throat department of Queen’s Medical Centre.
This was not, I should point out, my first choice of venue for watching the final. It wasn’t even in the top ten. It was, however, completely out of my control, having been carted down to Accident & Emergency (or just Emergency as they call it now – no Accidents here thank you) by my none-too-amused wife when the day was mere minutes old, and subsequently strapped to a drip and pumped full of saline solution with hints of Diazepam.
The reason for this was ironic on more than one level. Being a parent, I have a number of stock pieces of stern advice I offer my eldest on a regular basis, especially at mealtimes (I say “offer” in the same way as Don Corleone might have said it). Many of you will recognise “keep your head over the plate”, “don’t pick it off the bread, it’s supposed to be a sandwich” and the old favourite “don’t talk with your mouth full”. The one that came back to haunt me, however, was “chew your food, don’t swallow it whole”.
The other reason why this episode brought more than a wry smile to my wife’s face was that the cause for my unscheduled review of Nottingham’s finest array of tired medics was, you guessed it, a lump of dead animal. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, my ailment was a piece of insufficiently chewed steak, stuck in my throat.
Now, happily, it was at least stuck in my oesophagus, not my trachea, which meant that I was thankfully never in any mortal danger. Only swallowing was a problem, but unfortunately this meant swallowing anything at all, including water and my own saliva. I was thus condemned to retch continually and impotently until said steak had been removed.
It could have been far worse but I cannot emphasise enough how painful this was. I mentioned to my wife that she couldn’t possibly imagine the severe discomfort of something alien being stuck in a pipe too slender to naturally cope. (I was of course joking, and she of course found this observation hilarious.)
Worse would have been what I consistently misheard the doctor telling me. The medical term for something stuck in one’s throat is, apparently, a “bolus”, and it became apparent that the “footballers” my foreign doctor kept saying I had in my throat were in fact a “food bolus”.
And so we come back to the World Cup final, and it transpired that the aforementioned bolus decided to dislodge itself at some point during this slightly tedious couple of hours. I wasn’t allowed home until the following day, not entirely unfortunately (eight whole hours of unbroken sleep!), when I proved I could eat and drink successfully with no adverse reactions. My meal of “choice” was a bowl of what I’m guessing was a Heinz mushroom soup with a couple of pieces of bread and something posing as ice cream, but as my first meal in two days, it was heavenly.
This is a much better recipe for mushroom soup:
- 1 pint veg stock
- 1/2 onion
- 400g mushrooms of your choice
- a few sprigs of parsley
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- couple of pieces of bread
- clove of garlic
Soak bread in some cold water. Chop the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes, then add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or so. Add the parsley.
Squeeze the water out of the bread and add the bread to the pan with the stock and nutmeg. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend (to your liking – grainy is good but I know some people prefer smooth soups), season and serve.