A Viral State of Mind

Okay, so it happened. I got the flu virus that’s been going around. I knew it would happen eventually. I work in a restaurant, for god’s sake. I touch dirty dishes and have people sneezing on me all night. I don’t know why I thought I’d be immune. I wash my hands all the time and am careful not to touch my mouth or face while I’m working…But then again, I am want to share a sip of wine with my co-workers at the end of the night. I just should have known better.

So I got it. From what I can tell, it was probably some mutant strain of the Norwalk Virus or some nasty virus like that. At first I thought I had food poisoning, the way my body reacted so violently, but when I got a fever I knew it was the flu. Once I could see straight I did a little Googling to find out more about what I was dealing with. According to USA Today, this viral strain has hit CA hard and it has killed thousands of people.

I can see why. Damn.

If you’ve had this flu, you’ll know the symptoms very intimately. Goes something like this…Everything’s fine and then one minute, say at four o-clock in the morning while you’re sleeping, you’re suddenly sitting up in bed acutely aware that something is terribly wrong with the body you’re inhabiting. And you better run to the bathroom. Fast. And then, well… all hell breaks out. Maybe for like ten minutes your stomach bloats out and moves around like there’s an alien trapped inside you and you wonder—is there an alien trapped inside my body? And then you realize it’s something much, much worse than that and everything that was once inside you is immediately ejected—any way possible.

Flash forward though the nasty bits. You struggle through chills, cramps, fever and general discomfort associated with turning your insides out. You’re free of food and liquid and stay far away from anything that resembles anything with a scent. You wait through it—maybe a day or two or three– and beg for it to end. And eventually, it does if you’re young, strong or without a compromised immune system.

After two days without food, I feel more alive then ever. Almost appreciative. Granted, going through the Norwalk virus isn’t pleasant, but when it’s over, life is SOOOOO much better. I can smell food again. I can drink tea. Sip soup. Chew on a noodle or two. And for the first time in a while, I can think about the food that I’m eating in terms of nutrition and what effect it might have on my body. Because, dear reader, for the past few months (ah, admit it Brooke…Years), I’ve been eating for the taste of FOOD. Not for its benefits.

So maybe, just in time for the New Year, I’ve been given a chance to rearrange the way I think about the things I’m eating. Instead of thinking about flavor first, I’m thinking about my body, THEN flavor.

So who knows what that means. For the time being though, I’ll be doing a lot of thinking about soup. Really, really good soup.

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Brooke Burton nominated for best food writing

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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

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