Abez sez Assalamualaikum!

I’m under quarantine. We all are, actually. My poor daddy has gotten bronchitis and he’s a coughing mess, and the rest of us are starting to feel substandard. Now whether this is because we’re actually getting sick or whether we’re just having sympathy symptoms, we don’t know yet. Either way, I’m drinking out of a yogurt container.

Yep. This is my hi-sci (that’s high-science, not fidelity) way of trying not to get sick. It’s very un-Pakistani of me, but I’m not letting anyone use my glass…errr…yogurt container and I’m not going to use anyone else’s. They better keep their microbially-charged fingers off my pickle-jar of tea, too.

If there’s on thing I remember from Microbiology back in skool, it’s Chapter 1: the Ubiquity of Microbes. The filthy little fiends are everywhere, lurking, squirming, planning, scheming to jump inside of you and wreck havoc, knocking things over and chewing on your important bits. That’s EXACTLY what it said in my textbook, yep.

It is a bit of a family tradition for us to all get sick at the same time, but I’m hoping to avoid it. There are only so many days you can take off from work before your employers start looking for a replacement. I’ve already taken one off today to keep an eye on my daddy-dearest (I’ve only got one, so he’s the dearest by default :p ) and I may have to take off tomorrow too.

My poor daddy, when he gets sick, he really overdoes it. He’s got a fever and he’s disoriented and he’s coughing himself into fits. On top of that, he’s such a workoholic that he wakes up every few hours and starts phoning the restaurant (Chez Daddy: Good food, terrible service) to see if everything is running smoothly without him. Which it isn’t. So now he’s run off again.

Hmmm.

Have any of you guys ever read Strega Nona? It’s an old folk tale about a woman who has a pot that magically cooks as much food as you tell it to. All you have to do is say the magic words and it starts filling up with pasta. When you want it to finish, you say the magic words and then blow it three kisses, and the pasta stops.

Well, in the story, Strega Nonaa goes out shopping one day and a mischievous neighbor sneaks into her house thinking he’s going to make himself some dinner. He has, after all, heard her say the magic words many times and thinks he knows how to work the pot. So he comes in and starts to pot. As fast as it fills he scoops out a plate and eats it, and when he’s finished he says the magic words, but the pot keeps filling. He says them again and nothing happens, and soon the pot is overflowing with pasta, and it’s spilling out onto the floor, up the his knees, out the door and finally it deluges the entire village. In the end, Strega Non rescues the village by blowing the pot the three kisses that the neighbor hadn’t known about.

There isn’t much of a moral to this story, except that maybe now you’ll understand what I mean if I say I made a pot of Strega Nona’s chili today. That’s where you add about six times too much pasta (because it didn’t look like much at the time, ok?) and then watch in horror as the pasta expands and starts to out-grow the confines of the pot. Then you switch it to a bigger pot, add more beef, more sauce, and watch as it continues to grow.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The pasta does stop growing eventually, but by then you’ve got Hamburger Helper instead of a small pot of chili, and you also have three times more than you intended to make. Incidentally, it will also have only 1/3 of the taste if you don’t do some creative last-minute correction.

The real trick though, is to blow the pot three kisses.

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