Saturday, November 6

Typhoid Mary

This week was a wee bit rough. Monday I felt the beginnings of a killer cold (read below for my reasoning on the title selected for this post). Tuesday Roo stayed home from school and said his throat felt like he had strep throat. Poor kid is prone to it and gets it a few times a year. Apparently strep bacteria are rampant in Boulder; it even lives in the soil. Now, I ask you, how am I supposed to keep an 8-year-old boy indoors?

I took him to the doctor on Tuesday for the quick strep test which came back negative. Okay, back to school on Wednesday. At 10:30am on Wednesday the doctor's office called and informed me that he did have strep throat - the culture grew in the lab. Meh. Drove back to the school to pick him up - I always feel like a heel when he's contagious at school and spewing germs - to the pharmacy for antibiotics and the grocery store for chicken soup ingredients.

Luckily I don't get strep anymore because I had my tonsils out when I was seven. Tonsillectomies are no longer common; we'll have to explore other options for the poor kid. Thank GOD the Diva didn't get it. Two sick kids at home while I feel like hell is no fun. Roo never felt that bad so he jumped around playing Wii. Aye yi yi.

There's a reason generations of mothers have made chicken soup for sick family members. It works. The miracle elixir works as an anti-inflammatory and releases an amino acid which acts like acetylcysteine, a drug prescribed for  respiratory illness and bronchitis.

Chicken soup is a practical, frugal and effective way to treat what ills you. Boulder Locavore has a great recipe. Mine is slightly different - from Cooking Light - but effective nonetheless.


  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 3/4  cup  thinly diagonally sliced parsnip (2 parsnips)
  • 3/4  cup  thinly sliced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 1  (4-ounce) package gourmet mushroom blend
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 2 1/2  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1  cup  chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1  cup  shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  hot sauce
  • 1  thyme sprig
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley


Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add parsnip, shallots, mushrooms, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth and next 7 ingredients (through thyme); bring to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes or until parsnips are tender. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.
So, why did I title this post Typhoid Mary? When I'm sick and constantly sneezing and blowing my nose, I feel like I'm spreading a limitless supply of little armies of germs. The guilt! 
From 1900-1907, Mary Mallon worked as a cook for several New York families and unknowingly spread typhoid to her employers - she was a "healthy" carrier - eventually infecting 53 people of whom three died (there is some dispute over the numbers). Beginning in 1907, she was quarantined for three years at a clinic on North Brother Island. She was released in 1910 when she agreed to no longer work as a cook. 
Anthony Bourdain wrote a fascinating book about her, Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical. The book is a quick read and well worth it.

Historians argue whether Mary was an unknowing victim or knowing perpetrator. I tend to believe she was a victim and treated unfairly by public health officials. In 1915, she returned to North Brother Island after working as a cook under an assumed name. Poor woman didn't have many choices; cooking was the only way she could support herself. She was detained on the island until her death in 1938.

I'm still not feeling great; more chicken soup on the docket this weekend.

Wishing you a happy and HEALTHY weekend.


  1. Ooohh! Love the Typhoid Mary history at the end of your post :) POOR ROO. Hopefully, he feels better soon. Chicken soup should do the trick :D

    -Alexandra Dare

  2. We're all on the mend, thank goodness. Before I read Bourdain's book, I had no idea who Typhoid Mary was. An interesting read.