(Notes for the Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah)

Coal, Soup, and Television — الفحم والشربة والتلفيزيون

There’s no better way to identify differences between countries than to get sick in them. Sorry mom. All of the comforts, the dietary staples, the bad television the body demands are identified clearly in the mind — either to be found, or to indicate in their absence a different cultural approach to coughing, or breathing, or eating.

Suffering from something like a cold, which lingers ironically in the now 95-degree autumn steam, I set out on a mission to find soup… in delivery menus. Almost nowhere would even offer soup — not Lebanese places, not the American places, not the Indian places. Cuisines from the Asian subcontinent sometimes make soup-like things, but often resembling other simple dishes watered down. Where are the microwavable cans of soup and soft foods upon which America’s unwell have built their empire?

Instead, the advice for the wheezing illustrates in Abu Dhabi just how multicultural the place really is. A good citizen of Pakistan will push a tea called “Johar Joshanda,”{1}
which tastes of herbs and licorice and smells something like an old shoe. And those under the influence of French medicine still monger charcoal. “Charcoal, it’s good for gas,” they argue. No, no — it’s better than a gas stove. One word misheard by some French chef turned house-calling doctor and now we’ve got a whole continent pushing smelting materials on the already sick.

But here where there are no right answers, there are no clear limitations either — where Campbell’s isn’t, Cup ‘o Noodles is. Your way is findable, but there are a million other ways to travel should you choose to.

Still, the best medicine is a long nap. (Ever seen a bear with a cold?) And after a long one, I took my chances at orchestra rehearsal, filmed this week for a short feature by the BBC. Sick, it sucks to blow (it’s not the best idea to play brass with a sore throat) — but it’s not recommended to drink tea made from shoes either. Eyes on the horizon, sometimes we do what’s best for the future …or what gets us on television. Straining to transpose up a third with the TV camera at my bell, I did a little of both.

{1} The name means “essence of boiled stuff”.

Watch the BBC video here


  Mom wrote @

Chicken soup recipe on its way with love.

  Ninotchka wrote @

Hey, who’s that awesome trumpet player on the BBC?!

  mani wrote @

haha joshanda does not smell like an old shoe and you would have recovered in a day if you actually drank some.

  your aunt wrote @

who woulda thought? my nephew. IN THE PHILHARMONIC? loved the ‘bond theme’ excerpts, but not enough lens-time on the brass section. we got lotsa soup over here, btw.

  gigi wrote @

Le charbon c pour les gazs alors si on te la recommendé c que tu peté bcp 🙂

  felice holman wrote @

DON’T EVER PUT A CAN IN A MICROWAVE, or any other metal! Goodbye soup. Goodbye can. Even goodbye microwave. BUT ALL GOOD THINGS ABOUT TRIP TO DAH, and I play and replay orchestra pic. You are several times on film reached by link you sent second. Incidentally the charcoal remedy is true. I remember it. (See there is agreement above) They don’t sell that stuff anymore because it is too cheap.Briquets not recommended.Little tabss. Doesn’t much matter how you take ’em Hope you’re all better.

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