The blandest homesickness

2 March 2009

Foods impossible to acquire in Spain that I wanted all at once after my stomach illness:

bagel with cream cheese
green, seedless grapes
ginger ale
apple juice
annie’s macaroni & white cheddar
whole-fat vanilla yogurt
frozen peas
life cereal
real peanut butter

I caught a stomach virus this weekend, & spent about 24 hours unable to keep water down, or food. After the bad part stopped, I stumbled around my kitchen, woozy, reaching for calories – and, in the irony of stomach illnesses, could find nothing I wanted to eat.

In my mind’s eye, my knotted stomach, visions of a whole host of foods: foods too bland to offend or perturb, foods to fill & recuperate. Comfort foods, though not in the usual sense. (The requirements were different – simpler, in some ways, stricter than others). The list I made, lying flat on my back on the couch in a kind of limp paralysis, became a map of familiar things, things left behind. Invariably from home, from childhood, or from the Co-op down the street from my last apartment in Central Sq. 

Of all of them, you can find not a one in Spain. An odd kind of ill homesickness – empty, barely able to move, not able to imagine anything in the entire country that can feed you.

5 Responses to “The blandest homesickness”

  1. Sister Says:

    Aw Jimbo, I’m sorry. Isn’t it interesting the things (like certain food items) that we never think about in our own country simply because they’re ubiquitous? I just wrote about something along those lines in an essay discussing Britishness in the British Empire. It was all logical in its own place, I swear. Anyway, homesickness might end up making home that much better.

    Skype soon s’il tu plais.

  2. Jim Sligh Says:


    Was it about how Britishness became defined by its encounter with the colonial Other? This is, like, the central experience of Brit lit – or at the least, it was the direction we pursued in the intro class I took in college.

    Talk to you soon.


    big brother

  3. Sister Says:

    Of course. What are we (the British) that the “others” are not? Whatever it is constitutes Britishness. That’s pretty much my history class.

    You’d also enjoy my professor. He’s from LA and he brings up how great California is and how dreary upstate New York is at least once every class. He slipped on some ice and broke his arm at the beginning of the semester, which increased his antagonism. Comments include things like this: (while talking about Capitalism and Slavery “This isn’t a terribly difficult read actually. When I was a grad student and I first read it, I thought it was going to be wildly complicated because it was so famous, but it’s an easy read. I mean, it’s not exactly a book you bring with you to the beach, but on dreary days like this when you have nothing else to do, you can sit in your dorm room and read it… in April.”

    I miss California. But at least we have sunshine today in New York… even if it is 14 degrees/windchill 2 degrees.

  4. davidhur Says:


    When we succumb to illness, I believe that a true aspect of our person emerges. Men of rigidity sometimes become infantile, the most passive of men become resolutely Herculean in bearing their illness. Interesting how your oral fixation becomes what reads to be “American,” mac and cheese, the seedless grapes. When I fall ill, I tend to eat nothing; and in those rare moments that my appetite returns, I turn to what comforts me, a bowl of soup or broth and rice.

    I hope you don’t take to being bed-ridden again, or bathroom-ridden.

  5. cordelia Says:

    Oh, your post brought back memories of a horrible couple of days I spent in Florence, missing a side trip to Fiesole with a group, stumbling from my pensione to the nearest market, dry-mouthed and with little Italian, to buy (for a reason that eludes me entirely) Frosted Flakes, which I don’t think I ever ate, and yes, Ginger Ale, gagging at the site of Fanta cans lining the shelves. I think I found ginger ale or something like it. Can you get club soda or tonic water where your are ? You can make something ginger ale like, if the craving lingers. Try this, but, uh, I never understood about the chilis in it:

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