Thursday, November 10, 2005

Don't be a chicken - feel the fear but eat, read and write anyway

Teddy de Burca Jnr. isn’t panicking about the bird flu, he’s too busy planning what to eat, read and write this winter

As the Avian Flu pandemic looms over Asia, fear ye not, and never mind the irony, as the bi-lingual edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul is to be released this month by Tri Viet publishing house. Phew.

And there was me, contemplating taking on Gabriel Marcia Marquez’s One hundred Years of Solitude while I sat in self-imposed quarantine. Now, I can happily loll around the living room reading self-help books and, as is the book’s intention, “make [my] spirits soar and broaden [my] perspective of what it means to be fully human”. (Maybe learn a bit of Vietnamese while I’m at it, which makes me wonder how they translate the title, “Pho ga tot cho suc khoe cac anh chi” per chance?)

But of course, people do need to be reassured. Just look at my friend who bought a giant astronaut suit on eBay, as well as my colleague who’s stockpiled enough Tamiflu for an elephant. In fact, I wonder if I should write to the Chicken Soul publishers and pitch them an idea, Chicken Soup for People Terrified about Avian Flu. (Bit of a mouthful, but then one of the US editions is called Chicken Soup for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Soul.)

The back of the book blurb could read – “assuage thyself with comforting pop-psychology mumbo-jumbo and quasi spiritual quotes from God knows where, which may or may not give you an “I’m ok, Avian flu’s ok-approach” to the possible/probable pandemic. For those out there who are still eating lots of poultry – hello Hue city! – I could work on drafting up Chicken Soup for People Who Still Eat Chicken.

And in the event of being holed up at home, what would I eat? Strolling around the supermarkets I can’t help but stare at the tins of Campbell’s chicken soup and fantasise a highly marketable scenario the papers back home would surely snap up – “the man who lived through the Avian flu crisis in Vietnam while eating nothing but Chicken soup while reading the bi-lingual version of Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

Lest we forget that chicken soup is the all-time best remedy for colds and influenza. The Vietnamese have their very own, called Ga Tan – a medicinal broth with chickpeas, garlic, spinach and herbs and, well, chicken, of course. Perhaps, I could ask for a bucket of a “ga tan khong co thit ga” and stash it in the freezer.

In Korea the secret remedy to fight a cold, and some say also Avian flu, is Kim Chi and in America it’s Sauerkraut. Both are just pickled cabbage, but I suspect that the garlic and spiciness is what makes them so potent against illnesses. An old Chinese proverb says – “eating garlic is better than an army of mothers”.

So with my shopping list complete – I didn’t mention the large quantities of beer, scotch, crisps, cigarettes, beef jerky and instant noodles – my only dilemma is how to stay fit with running up and down the stairs the only solution. But then, putting on a few pounds over winter is normal for a man of my age.

Why deny it? I’ll be flopped across my couch and watching any number of the 172 DVDs in my house or mindlessly surfing the net (thank the lord for ADSL) while spending some quality time with the missus. Why it’ll be just like Tet.

So my advice, feel the fear but eat-drink-man-woman anyway. Let that be your motto this winter and I’ll see you on the other side, along with the joys of Spring.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what the pho?

And the word verification. how to pronounce it? gzaqkvu. islander language?