Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle A Soothing Broth

By Virginia B. Wood

JANUARY 19, 1999: 

A Soothing Broth: Tonics, Custards, Soups, and Other Cure-Alls For Colds, Coughs, Upset Tummies, and Out-of-Sorts Days
by Pat Willard
Broadway Books ($18 hard)

In a city where thousands are afflicted with upper respiratory infections and the seasonal ravages of the dreaded mountain cedar pollen, any tome that offers a possible respite from all the suffering could be a very hot property. Such a possibility is food writer Pat Willard's new work, A Soothing Broth, which seeks to revive the lost art of "invalid cooking." Starting in the early days of her marriage, the author began researching old cookbooks, historical texts, and even the biographies and nursing journals of the famed Florence Nightingale, looking for foods with which to nurture her family in times of illness. What she gleaned from all that reading is presented in this handy little sourcebook with chapters on remedies to ease the burden of headaches and fevers, coughs and colds, and all manner of digestive ills. There are seasonal tonics and even a few remedies presented simply for their historical curiosity (such as the suggested treatment for nymphomania), but the bulk of the recipes have been tested on Williard's willing husband and children for many years.

Until the early 20th century, many of the healing and medicinal arts were the province of home cooks. Standardization of medical education and great advances in medical technology and research during the first half of this century took medical treatment out of the home and put it firmly in the hands of doctors and hospitals. Willard's premise is that we lost something valuable along the way: a common-sense approach to comforting and nurturing the sick that plays an equally important role alongside miracle drugs and modern technology. Her book arrives at a time when studies show that more and more consumers are turning to alternative health care sources, investigating herbal and nutritional treatments for many ailments. The author certainly does not advocate turning away from medical treatment. She arms us with time-tested recipes that can augment the healing process. A Soothing Broth should make a welcome addition to every family's home health library.

While Pat Willard offers no exact remedy for cedar fever, she does include several recipes for restorative soups whose warm liquids can stimulate secretions and unclog nasal passages,plus teas and toddies strengthened with healthy shots of spirits to sooth sore throats and aid relaxation. Those things couldn't help but make a miserable allergy sufferer feel better. Illness creates a need for nurturing. When we're sick, we naturally want someone to change our sheets, bring us clean pajamas, and feed us things to make us feel better. Just reading Willard's book, I was overwhelmed with memories of the comfort I felt as a child when my mother did those things for me. Imagine what could be accomplished by actually using her comforting remedies.

Weekly Wire Suggested Links

Page Back Current Issue Page Forward

Books: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Cover . News . Film . Music . Arts . Books . Comics . Search

Weekly Wire    © 1995-99 DesertNet, LLC . Austin Chronicle . Info Booth . Powered by Dispatch