Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lemongrass and Sympathy - Thai Chicken Soup..

I hope all will forgive me if I occasionally lapse into discussion of Thailand, Thai people and my admiration of their culture. :)

Especially when I'm sick.

Which leads me to the now-infamous lemongrass soup story. Since I am stuck here, drinking lemongrass tea in my jammies, sick with gawdknowswhatcreepingcrud, the memory comes back. It makes me smile.

A few years ago when I got my yearly bout of bronchitis, I still needed groceries. Life goes on, even when we're hacking and coughing like active volcanoes and every inch moved feels like a mile through quicksand. I threw on some jeans, put on a pair of flip flops, gathered up the dog and began a walk to the Thai store which truly felt like the Bataan Death March.

Finally arriving, out of breath and covered in perspiration, I gathered up a few things to get me through the next few days and went to the checkout. Not being in much of a mood for chit chat, I put the stuff down and stood there, not offering my usual greetings.

Khun Suchin, the mother of the owner of the store, looked up at me and immediately recognized that I was not well.

"What's the matter with our Thailand Girl," she asked.

I looked at her with the eyes of a six-year-old. We all regress to childhood when we're sick, no matter who we are. I looked at her with my watering eyes, stuffy nose, perspiring brow and told her that I had bronchitis. While I hope it didn't sound whiney, no promises!

"You know what to do for? Where is your lemongrass," she asked. Lemongrass? What the hell does that have to do with anything, I wondered. I kept my mouth closed. It was far too much intellectual strain to work out that puzzle. Lemongrass just wasn't on the list of things I needed. At that point, it would just have to wait.

I told her that I would be fine, it would go away soon and I just need rest .. blah blah blah. I really just wanted to go back home. As much as I love that woman, even talking with her felt like too much effort. I had a fever, couldn't talk without coughing. It was just not a day for socializing.
"Come over here," she pointed to the chair where she'd been sitting behind the counter. "Sit down. I will be back in a few minutes."

She didn't ask. She told. And I minded her. Somehow, it seemed natural.

I sat for what seemed like three hours. (It was more like ten minutes.) My feet were cold, my head was hot. Shanti was fidgeting. I wanted to go home and go to bed. The sooner that could happen, the happier I'd be. As much as frugal financial decisions are necessary in my world, I knew it would be a cab home.

Finally, she appeared from a back room with a hot cup of something. I could see the steam and since I couldn't smell anything, it could have been anything from coffee to battery acid. Who knew?

"Drink this," she said, handing the cup to me. I just held it in my hands and looked at her.

"Drink it. It will fix cold."

As I said, my "smeller" was broken.

"What is it?"

"Lemongrass," she said. "We use it for. It will take away fever. Make your chest good. Drink it now."

I did as she said. It tasted rather pleasant, as much as I could taste anything. The fever part was questionable but, either way, it was good and I appreciated it very much.

She left while I finished drinking it. Finally she came back with a covered bowl of it and told me to take it home for later.

"Thank you...." I muttered.

"Yes. Good. Good. That's fine." She was done. Time for Thailand Gal to go home.

This gave me some insight into Thai culture. Thai people aren't inclined to offer empty sympathy. Never once did she pat my hand, say "oh, I'm sorry" or give any indication that my sickness was anything but a practical matter to be dealt with and dispensed. Honestly, I liked it and found it very comforting. Her actions were very loving, even without words or emotional expression. In fact, it may have been more loving because she didn't do those things.

And I swear I felt better. So today, I will drink lemongrass tea and go for a long nap. I'll leave the scientific evidence of the healing properties of lemongrass to others.

Peace all,

Thailand Gal


Lucia said...

This is wonderful! How lovely that she was there to take care of you with lemongrass tea when you needed it...and passed the knowledge to you so you can take care of yourself now. Get well soon!

Lucia said...

Oh, and I should add too that just reading your title I could almost smell wonderful coconutty chicken and lemongrass soup. Mmmmmm!

thailandchani said...

Lucia, I make that chicken a lot ~ and always with lemongrass soup. My housemates don't like the smell but I think it's just scrumptious!


Thailand Gal


Stephen Newton said...

Yes, good old lemongrass. We grew it in our herb garden in Florida and of course, used it in some Thai recipes. Hope you feel better in the morning, TG.

meno said...

I will go out and look for some lemongrass tea. I love the soup. Nice story.

Girlplustwo said...

hey woman,
thanks for popping over...and hey, i like the vibe around here, a lot.

isn't lemongrass the best? the tom kha ki (spelled wrong) i had in asia had the most delicious bits of it in it, and i haven't had it taste the same way here.

Tammy Brierly said...

I love Thai food and since I will be living an hour away, you must share a good place for Thai food ;)

Hope you feel better soon!