November 15th, 2010
01:00 PM ET
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Ouch. Ouchouchouchouchouch. Ouch.

Forgive any egregious typos or inelegant phrasing, but I'm currently propped up on a mountain of sofa pillows, trusty whippet wedged under my knees, with my teeth gritted, trying not to whimper too pathetically and about to go out of my mind with want for Cream of Wheat. Yeah, I'm a food editor and probably oughta be keeping up some pretense of all my meals consisting of ethically sourced organic hogget terrine and all manner of complicated grains misted in butter from cows that vacation in Biarritz. But right now, I'm laid up with nasty back spasms and I just want hot cereal.

Bread and butter would do, too - just the generic, but satisfyingly crunchy Italian roll that came with the Papardelle Bolognese my husband and I ordered in the other night. Or eggs, nothing fancy, just very lightly whisked, fried in bubbling butter and flecked with Tabasco - maybe a sprinkle of smoked salt if I don't have to reach up too high in the cabinet.

When I'm down for the count, I go back to the basics. This doesn't mean dull, necessarily - just familiar. To me, the apotheosis of that is Cream of Wheat cooked cement hard, with a dash of hot sauce, crunchy salt and a shaving of whatever hard cheese is in the house - Parmesan, Romano, Asiago. I go savory because sweet makes me feel like an invalid and I'm incredibly bad at being coddled. The hot sauce allows me to feel as if I have a fighting chance, and if there is bread, it's got to be almost cruelly crusty, so I can wage battle against my food, even if the rest of my body is at war with itself.

(And...crap - the whippet just ate my toast.)

soundoff (273 Responses)
  1. dnfromge

    Flu or cold symptoms – poached eggs on toast and ginger ale. Sore throat – saltine crackers and hot tea – the scratch of the saltines going down always felt good on my sore throats for some reason!

    October 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  2. AleeD

    Spicy chicken wings, Powerade Zero and lots of water. But it's been a long time since I've been sick.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  3. The_Mick

    Soup, particularly chicken noodle, but whatever kind it is it should be almost too hot to eat so you also inhale the hot vapors and liquid that often loosen the junk in your throat!

    November 17, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  4. Sweetenedtea

    When I'm sick, I like my personal chefs to make filet mignon and lobster with...

    ...okay, nevermind, I don't have any personal chefs. I was just bemused at some of the people here who are sick enough to crave special foods but not so sick that they can't spend an hour in the kitchen whipping up the meal. Hint: if you're feeling well enough to be on your feet making a complicated dish when you don't have to, you're not really that sick.

    November 17, 2010 at 3:11 am |
  5. sdetatae

    tomato soup with an egg poached in it.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  6. Amanda

    Depends on how sick I am... For cold/congestion I crave really brothy homemade chicken caldo. If I'm getting over a stomach bug it's soft boiled egss and toast or saltine crackers. If I was in your situation I'd be right there with you with the cream or wheat, but with chocolate chips, or mac & cheese from a box (I know, it's wrong).

    November 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • Amanda

      Oh, or Vietnamese food...Not sure why, never ate it growing up, but there isn't much a really good bowl of Pho can't solve, and if it is really tough, spring rolls.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  7. sue

    We never threw out bones from just about anything – beef, chicken, pork (fish bones we buried as fertilizer by the plum tree) – and my dad would make the most amazingly protein rich broth out of the bones. It would take two days in the oven, then reduce stovetop, poured over steamed rice and sprinkled with a little soy sauce.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  8. Hamburglar

    take a wild guess

    November 16, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
  9. Amanda

    Wholesome old fashioned oats with butter and honey!

    November 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  10. Jansy

    Cheese grits with bacon...or homemade cream of mushroom soup.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  11. jenn

    Must use the Campbell's Tomato BISQUE soup not regular...much better flavor.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  12. MumsToo

    I usually crave Kentucky Fried Chicken's mashed potatoes with extra salt.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  13. Leigh Ann

    Grilled Cheese...the greasier the better and chicken noodle soup! Or mashed postatoes with gravy

    November 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  14. Danielle

    Tom Kah Kai always does the trick for me. It's spicy, sweet, and savory as well as being a warming soup.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  15. John Kelly

    Menudo settles the stomach, clears the head and restores strength better than anything I know.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  16. Mary

    When I get a cold, I first, order a pizza. I don't know why, but I seem to crave takeout pizza with a cold. I also like to drink tea as hot as I can possibly stand it.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Emily

    When I'm sick my dad would make me drink red or pink gatorade/ 7up and eat salteen crackers with chicken broth. I never Drink red or pink gatorade if I'm not sick because it makes me think of being ill :)

    November 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  18. Sue

    If it's a cold or the flu – mac and cheese, or a grilled cheese with pickles and ketchup and tomato soup. When I was on chemo (I know this sounds weird but it is what it is!), the only thing I could eat was cantaloupe and some hot & sour soup.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  19. 300Cooper

    A spicy chinese food with fried chicken and egg rolls with the spicy mustard! the mustard clears my head

    November 16, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  20. Karen

    My grandma used to cook this flower-shaped rice noodle to an oatmeal consistency and mix it with an egg and some sugar. Now that I can't find the rice noodle anywhere, I simply just substitute it with oatmeal!

    November 16, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  21. ottermyst

    Grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  22. Bo

    When I feel like crap, I run down to subway and get a plain turkey sandwich with american cheese. It's bland, it's not terribly heavy, and I don't have to make anything. Good comforting sandwich.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  23. kristin

    Oreida Zesties (fries). When I have a cold, it seems like nothing has much flavor. The combination of crunchy outside, soft inside and some spices just does the trick for me. I never eat them otherwise.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  24. Steve

    Grilled cheese and Tomato soup.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:45 am |
    • sam

      captain crunch cereal

      November 16, 2010 at 10:18 am |
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