food talk while having flu

just when the summer finally starts here in Finland, i caught a nasty flu. you know how it goes… first you feel the pain in your throat, and it starts to climb up to your nose… the next thing you know you start blowing out your nose and coughing, and at the same time you start losing your sense of taste.

when i was still living in Indonesia, i heard all kinds of stories from my friends and family members who lived abroad, and always, there would be stories about the food abroad. i should mention that most of this “abroad” living means somewhere in the western world, where of course the food culture is a lot different than in Indonesia.

the main thing was always the same: food abroad (in the western world) sucks. they have no taste.

since i never had the experience of living abroad back then, i could not say otherwise. the least i could say was, “huh, is that so.” but since this happened a lot of times, and everybody always said the same thing, well, i was starting to believe it. okay, okay, you are right, Indonesian food is EVERYTHING, we’re the gods of food, there’s really no hope of good food in the western world.

and then without even planning it (i mean, well, not like a life-long plan), i happened to move abroad. and that’s not all… i couldn’t cook any Indonesian food. AT ALL.

so i was aching and crying and panicking while i tried to learn to make my fave Indonesian foods, using 32 different ingredients just for one tiny meal, because how the h**l was i supposed to live without them?? foods here have no taste, that’s what people had been saying!

it took me a long while to “master” cooking some Indonesian foods, and to this date the varieties of Indonesian food i can make (without seeing any recipes) still can be counted only by using one hand. yep. but how then did i survive all these years living in a western country?

it may shock Indonesians, but i actually eat these tasteless foods. these good-for-nothing foods they were talking about, i proudly make them and enjoy eating them. to me, they’re not tasteless. they are good.

once you can open your mind to a world of tastes, no matter how simple and true-to-its-core, you will appreciate food even more. why does everything have to be full of sauce, you can’t even taste the real taste of a green bean? if these Indonesians say that food with no spices or sauces are no good, then i wonder how come they like sushis so much?

even here in Finland, when i met a fellow Indonesian and got into a small chit chat, and my husband asked him how he liked Finland so far… guess what he said? “it’s nice… but the food is not so good.” so my husband asked, “oh, so you don’t like the gravlax?” and the Indonesian man said, “oh, yes i do!”. my husband went on to ask other Finnish foods, to which the man answered that yes, indeed he liked those (out of politeness or was it the truth, who knows). so… um, what was it again about the food not being so good?

strange, huh. but anyway, i generally don’t care what other people think and feel about things that don’t concern me or my loved ones, and really dislike to judge others. but this one makes me feel sad to realize, are Indonesians generally that closed minded when it comes to simple food? it’s sad to think what kinds of simply good food they’re missing around the world just because they don’t have enough spices in them.

so back to my present flu. when i was just beginning to get the full blown flu, goo dripping from nose all the time, feeling unwell, painful headaches, fever and stuffs, i was fortunate to be invited to eat at my dad-in-law’s place. i nearly canceled it, but pushed myself to go after all, and did not regret it once. the menu was simple: grilled whole corns, grilled tenderloin steaks. all grilled by my dad-in-law, served straight from the barbecue grill. and of course, no BBQ sauce used, just tiny hints of salt and pepper.

at first i was afraid that with my flu, i wouldn’t be able to taste a thing. and though my initial craving whenever i have flu is to have a hot & spicy soup (i am still Indonesian at heart), i decided to just enjoy the time with family. miraculously, after a bite of the grilled corn (eaten with melted butter), my sense of taste came back. even if it’s just a simple taste, it tasted really good and heavenly to my tongue. and once i tried the steaks (eaten with garlic butter), there was no doubt about it. these simple foods can do wonders to your sense of taste.

i had a lovely night, and though i am still currently recovering from the flu itself, i will forever remember how it was not some spicy and heavily sauced food that helped me get my sense of taste back. good food is always good no matter if it only uses 1 spice ingredient or 32. sometimes it’s good to stick with the simple things.

i’m not saying that i can get over Indonesian food yet (i still jump at the chance of eating it whenever there is one!), but when i learned how to enjoy every taste of food, be it elaborately seasoned or plain, i find that living–abroad or just wherever–is much easier and i get to feel contented more easily. 🙂

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unfortunately fortunate

so i went back to work for a couple of days earlier last week… and right away i ran into some unfortunate events.

like how i fell at work right on my first day back. that’s right, a full-on fall down the floor because somebody put en empty plastic box (the kind you use for when you’re moving to a new house) where it didn’t belong, and i wasn’t paying attention to where my legs were going. it was a nasty fall, but i managed to get up from it myself, and the day continued normally.

the next day i started to feel the pain in the part where i hit my leg, but whatever… i was still in a good mood to start working again, and went to work normally… until suddenly around noon i felt weird. like very exhausted, and started to feel pain everywhere in my body, plus a cunning headache. so i sat down for a while, and when i felt like i couldn’t think anymore because of the pain, i took a painkiller, just to let me get by to the end of the day.

of course, as soon as i got home that day, i got a high fever. well, that was it then. i got myself checked the next day, and got a 3 day sick leave right away.

it almost felt like a joke that as soon as i had to get back to work, the universe was telling me that i needed to stay home some more. but i wasn’t laughing, far from it. the next night my fever went higher, almost as high as when i got chickenpox. it was just terrible.

at the health center, i was told that the symptoms sound like influenza symptoms. but i didn’t have any sore throat or running nose. days and nights passed, and finally, right on the third day, my fever started to go away. and yet still no sore throat or running nose. to this day, i still have no idea what it was, but now that i think about it, could it actually have something to do with the fall or the bruises, as i still have a bit of pain when i walk, even now. gonna have to keep an eye on them, i guess.

so anyway, while being ill, in true fashion of ‘looking for the silver-lining’ as per the supposed theme of my blog, i started to think of all the good things that came up with this unfortunate events.

1. obviously, i got my summer holiday “extended”. though it wasn’t that pleasant when you have 39C degree fever, lying in bed in a room that’s 31C degree hot. with no AC. oh, right, this is supposed to be the good things. sorry.

2. since i was super bored yet nearly motionless because of the illness, i managed to finish a book i just borrowed from the library in like less than a week. it was… entertaining. not the best i’ve read, but still, i’m glad i could finish reading it that fast… so i can now move on to the next book!

3. i also managed to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of watching TV series, much thanks to Netflix. my current addiction? The Killing.

4. when i didn’t have my fever anymore, we went out to take walks in the night (so that it wouldn’t be too hot anymore out there). during this walk, i finally, for the first time in my entire life, saw a wild hedgehog just under some bushes. ❤ i’ve never seen a wild one, though of course i saw some “pet” hedgehogs a long time ago back in my hometown. this wild one was a bit tiny, not fully grown yet, but also not a baby anymore. however, since it was afraid of us, all i could see was just the back (spikes) side, breathing up and down. still, cute!

5. the next night after seeing the hedgehog, we walked out again. this time we were hunting the super moon.WP_000560we didn’t want to attract attention, so we didn’t bring our better camera. so this was taken with my phone’s camera. if you see the middle part, under the bright streetlight where there are a bunch of other streetlights… the biggest circle of the bunch is the moon. well, it’s the only one hovering in the air, should be easy to spot! it may not look awesome here, but it was actually quite huge. i’m happy i got the chance to see it live. after seeing the super moon, i was again given the chance to spot a wild hedgehog (different bushes this time!). it looked at us as we were backing away, so i could see its button-like eyes and small nose… so very cute! (no pics as it was very dark already.)

that last point probably has nothing to do with the fact that i got ill, but it definitely brings positivity back to me while i was feeling down for almost the whole week. i got reminded of how little it takes to find beauty everywhere around you, and that even when something makes you feel low sometimes, there are a thousand other things that you can still be thankful about.

with this new good spirit, i’m gonna go back to work tomorrow. i’d better not fall again this time!

the week’s update

so right after i wrote my last post, my flu became worse again. i had a terrible running nose, and since it’s so fricken dry here (especially now that it’s winter), the skin around my nose became so irritated, it felt like it’s burning every time i breathed. however i kept going to work, since i just couldn’t admit that i was that weak. :p big mistake. Friday as i finished work, i felt like i was ready to drop to the floor and not get up for the next 10 years. in reality though, i went home normally, and took a nap. the next day, we went to my mum-in-law’s house to celebrate her birthday… and right after lunch, i felt it again, like i was going to black out soon. i finally gave in to it and excused myself to the guest bedroom to sleep, but not before measuring my temperature. and yep, i got fever, alright. 2 hours of nap, i woke up feeling a bit better, so we excused ourselves to go home right away before i again would start feeling unwell. at this point, i no longer had terrible running nose, but i started having coughing fits. seemed like the flu went to the same cycle again, from sore throat, to running nose, to coughing fits.

the next day, i slept and slept, and yet i still felt tired all the time. my temperature was steady at around 37C, so i didn’t dare to do anything else but a bit of laundry and watching TV from bed. my husband got me coughing medicine, and it seemed to work. on Monday, fortunately i had a day off. i felt better in the morning, nor did i have fever, so i went out to do some grocery shopping, and even managed to finish ironing the clothes. Tuesday morning, everything felt fine. so i went to work normally, only to find that by the time i’ve done half of the day’s work, i began feeling weak and tired again. Wednesday morning, i pushed myself to go to work just to get a few urgent stuffs done, but then after 2 hours of work, i measured my temperature and it was again 37.4C. for crying out loud, what the hell was it this time??! i excused myself yet again from work to go to the health center, got myself checked for any infection… and yet they found nothing. everything was normal, they said, and so it was just my flu. i needed to sleep, they said, and so that’s what i did all day Wednesday. after a long sleep, i woke up feeling even worse, though it was probably mostly mental rather than physical. i began feeling a bit depressed for not getting well when it’s been over 2 weeks since i first got the flu.

as i lied on the bed, i silently wished someone would just give me a placebo, as it would probably ‘cure’ me. then suddenly i heard my husband saying he’ll get me something, and after a few small noises from the kitchen, he came to our room with a glass… and something brownish yellow in it. i immediately knew what it was though, so it wasn’t really a placebo, but it was still funny that he brought me that when i had just wished for a ‘miracle cure’.

this ‘miracle cure’ that he gave me was rum. 😀 it was half a joke, since we both knew how in the old days, whenever someone got sick on a ship or in a small town/village that had no doctors, he/she would be given rum, just because it would relieve the pain. neither i nor my husband drink alcohol, except for a quarter of a glass of white wine at family gatherings, or a glass of champagne at weddings/birthday celebrations. but it just so happens that my husband had a bottle of rum he got from his ex-colleagues years ago, and it had just been there in our cupboard.

since i was just so desperate, i forced myself to drink it anyway. it wasn’t much, just about 2cm of a small glass (and yet it took me so long to gulp it all down, LOL). the other half of me wanted to believe that it would probably make me actually feel good (though hopefully not drunk), even though the other half knew that my husband was just half kidding. but ‘lo and behold, after about half an hour or so, i did start to feel okay. i managed to see things positively again, and yesterday (i still got a sick leave), i woke up feeling much better. i guess those seamen knew what they were doing with their rum. :p (for the record, i didn’t drink the rum anymore after that one time.) my cough was almost completely gone, and so was my running nose.

so today i went back to work…

… only to find that it’s a snowstorm day. well, isn’t it just great. went to work more than an hour before my work started (to anticipate the storm), only to hear that they cancelled the train that i usually take to work. i went to the other platform to take another train, and let out a sigh of relief when i made it just in time for the train…

… only to go halfway to the city and get stuck in the same place for about 10-15 minutes. i still had my hope, since i wasn’t late yet. but when the train started to move forward again, there was an announcement saying that on the next stop, the train would again have to wait for another half an hour before it would finally be possible to go to the city (= my destination).

seriously?? is that some sort of a sign that i should’ve just stayed home???

needless to say, i got out at the next stop, and followed the crowd who, like me, were also looking for an alternate way to get to the city. i managed to get into a bus that went to the city, and got to my workplace 5 minutes before my shift started. what a way to start a workday after a sick leave!!

fortunately, because of the storm, it was dead quiet at my workplace today. it was fortunate, because that meant that i didn’t get too tired, though for some reason my running nose became worse again. (insert a hair-ripping & frustrated sound effect here.) as soon as i got home, i used the rhino horn neti pot that had helped me many times last week during my terrible running nose episodes. it has always worked for me, so let’s hope it works again this time.

now all i can say is… thank God it’s Friday! … which doesn’t really mean a thing when you have work on Saturdays, but anyway, it means that tomorrow is the last day of work for the week! and then, it’s back to bed & sleeping in for the whole day on Sunday!

PS. this snowstorm is actually pretty serious. you can read some of the news here, here, and here. and of course, it’s just my luck that the snowstorm will continue tomorrow, too. may the force be with me. :p