This past weekend I was reminded there is something far worse than witnessing a sick loved one who's unable to eat—witnessing myself, laid up with a painful kidney infection, unable to muster even a pathetic semblance of an appetite. (Tip: Drinking lots of water for a few days will not cure a UTI; it will just give bacteria time to crawl further up into your body.) For three days, I was only able to lie on the couch, watch football, sweat profusely, and drift in and out of consciousness.
Seeking nourishment beyond water, I left the house briefly on Saturday night to join one of my best friends (and favorite Jews) for dinner at Jamjuree to break his Yom Kippur fast. As he devoured chicken satay and a sizzling shrimp dish and declared, "I am normal again!" I sipped green tea and tried not to pass out. It was not the nourishment I was looking for, but the company of an old friend around whom I could shiver and be only a shadow of my normal self. It was exactly the comfort I needed at the moment.
On Sunday, I invoked the help of a higher power—Fergus Henderson, patron saint of variety meats and charmingly written cookbooks. In the recipe for Fennel, Butter Bean, Ox Tongue, and Green Sauce, from his newest book, Beyond Nose to Tail, I found the most beautiful sentence, which I've been offering up as a daily prayer for a fully restored appetite: "Now slice as much tongue as you feel appropriate (keep the rest for sandwiches) into thin little angel's wings." Amen.