Have a bowl of chicken soup. It is good for what ails you.
If there are chickens, then there is probably chicken soup. Chicken soup has a reputation as a comfort food. And since we may very well be in or near the flu and cold season, I feel it is my duty to embrace chicken soup.
This won’t be hard for me, I have already told my family that I want my final meal to be chicken soup with noodles. That is how much I love chicken soup. Also, as a Jewish bubbe (a grandma), I have the need to offer you a bowl of therapeutic chicken soup.
Having a bowl of chicken soup is part of being under the weather. It might not be a prescription drug, but Jewish mothers, Italian mothers, Mexican mothers and moms in between countries, have versions of chicken soup.
Scientists won’t argue with their mothers about the medicinal qualities of chicken soup. It may very well be the steam from the soup that opens your sinuses, the additional fluids that you take in with the broth that helps with dehydration, or the nutritional veggies that are added to the soup, but you do feel better after eating a bowl of chicken soup. This soup makes you feel better when you aren’t.
There is the iconic Jewish chicken soup with matzoh balls. Greece has a chicken soup called avgolemono, which is a lemon-egg variety of chicken soup. Thailand adds coconut, lemon grass and ginger, plus fish sauce and calls it tom kha kai. There is a version from Russia called, lapsha, which means noodle. (My dog is named Noodle. I could end up calling him my little lapsha. It sounds endearing. Wait, I just read that it is served at funerals. Never mind.)
Peru’s chicken soup is made with a hard boiled egg and egg noodles added. West Africa adds peanuts, peanut butter and chick peas, while East Africa combines coconut and bananas. Mexican chicken soup incorporates cumin, coriander and tortilla chips. Added chilies or chili powder complete the soup.
You can take a world tour with chicken soup: Morocco: veggies,harissa, cumin, tomato paste and chick peas. Korea: ginger, scallions and their classic glutinous sticky rice. Colombia: potatoes and rice together. Portuguese: kale or collard greens, dried sausage. Japan: udon noodles and star anise.
Mimi Sheraton, a former New York Times food critic, wrote an entire cookbook on the subject: The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup.”
The 12th Century Jewish physician, Maimonides, suggested that broth from hens might “neutralize the body’s constitution.” How can you argue with this?
Leona Uchitelle writes a Religious column for the Venice Gondolier. You can follow her daily blog on Facebook or at: www.ushouldtell.com.^p