I got the flu that’s going around, so my wife made a call to her dad. Within 15 minutes, he was at our doorstep with a package.
How does he manage to keep his freezer stocked with homemade chicken soup at all times?
Last month, my wife’s friend was sick and my father-in-law was on the spot with the soup. In the month prior to that, my sister-in-law was sick and she got the soup right away, too. My wife and our son get the soup within the first 10 minutes of feeling that drip going from nasal passage to throat. No matter what the circumstances, day or night, if someone’s sick, my father-in-law is there with that amazing liquid gold of his to save the day.
This last time I was sick—and, boy, it was a doozy—I wasn’t so quick to call for help (I had my reasons). My wife decided to call anyway. The soup came frozen in a single-serving container. My father-in-law left it at the door and took off, and then phoned from the car to let me know it was on the porch. I guess he didn’t want to interface with our contaminated home and pick up whatever I had.
The container held just one bowl of soup. It was why I was hesitant to make the call in the first place. I knew if I had only one bowl, I’d surely want more.
“Don’t make me eat it,” I said. “One small bowl will do serious damage to me.”
“If you want more, we can just ask my dad,” my wife told me.
“I can’t eat him out of his supply,” I replied. “What if someone else gets sick? What if he charges us after the first freebie? It’ll deplete our savings account. Do you know how good that stuff is?”
I went to our bedroom and collapsed onto the bed. But the magical smell of the soup as my wife defrosted it crept out of the kitchen, down the hall, underneath the door and under my covers to seduce me.
A few minutes later I was enjoying that magic meal. It warmed me up. It soothed my throat. It gave me strength.
Chicken soup really does heal. Don’t laugh. The chicken in the soup provides the protein that’s one of the most important building blocks for bones, muscles and blood. The carrots, onion and celery pack some serious antioxidants and vitamins A and C to help strengthen the immune system. The broth provides hydration and stimulates nasal clearance. And the macaroni? Well, we Italians need macaroni to survive.
Just as I expected, by the time I was licking the bowl, I craved more soup. But I knew I couldn’t call my father-in-law for additional servings. I’d have to offer cash for more. Or better yet, I could try to make my own!
I called my wife on her cellphone in the other room (for some reason she always avoids me when I’m sick).
“Hey,” I said. “It’s your husband in the other room. What do you think of making our own soup?”
“We can’t make my dad’s soup,” she said. “I’ve tried before and it’s practically impossible.”
“How hard can it be? It’s just broth, chicken, some vegetables and macaroni.”
“You try making it and see if it turns out the same.”
But who had time to make soup when I needed it in that very moment? I could already sense the first bowl doing its work. Little by little, it was, in fact, healing me. I felt the chicken strengthening my bones, muscles and blood. The carrots, onion and celery were rebuilding my immune system. The broth was magnificently hydrating me, and I was happy to report nasal clearance.
Everything was coming together. And then progress stopped. I needed more soup.
I couldn’t help it. I called my father-in-law.
While dropping off another package at the door, I caught him before he could flee. I did my slyest to retrieve the recipe.
“So, uh, what’s the recipe for this stuff?” I asked.
He gave it to me. It was as easy as that. The magic of the soup, however, was having it when you needed it.
“At what point,” I asked my father-in-law before he left, “are you gonna start charging us money?”
“I’m not gonna charge you any money,” he said. “Don’t worry about that. I’m glad to do it.”
I was relieved. I guess it was just one of the perks I got for taking his daughter off his hands.
“But,” he added, “one day I will need my Depends changed.”
This story appeared in The Acorn Newspapers of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, CA, in May of 2017. You can find other stories like it from Michael Picarella in his book, “Everything Ever After (Confessions of a Family Man),” and at MichaelPicarellaColumn.com.