I might have reignited this horrid chest cold coughing thing when I flew from Los Angeles to Guadalajara and back in the same day to present a speech there. Or perhaps it was visiting a friend who was in St. John’s Hospital. Possibly it’s what I get for heading to the steam room at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel which may or may not be a good idea in these quasi-plague times.

No matter where it happened, it’s round two of a nasty, icky, uncomfortable health issue. Rattling cough, gross things happening to me, a painful sore throat and aching ribs from the coughing fits that cause me to be on the verge of blackout. This is not a way to spend a weekend, or a weekday for that matter. Sorry for this pun, but, it’s cold comfort, to know I’m not alone. Half the country seems to be down with this thing that the doctor I spoke with, said lasts about 2-3 weeks. She did say that she only sees people when it’s lingered, so some people might be getting over it quicker that she doesn’t see.

When I’m sick, I tend to hermit. I don’t whine and complain. I just hide, like a dog that knows there’s something wrong and doesn’t want to show its weakness. I generally try to sleep my way through whatever is going on. This works so long as you don’t have these coughing fits that take your breath away.

So I spent the weekend drinking a gallon of water a day – literally, taking drugs – the unfun kind – regularly, and watching anything on YouTube that didn’t make me laugh because that would be too painful to do. Laughter is not always the best medicine it turns out.

Finally on Sunday I was in presentable enough condition that could be seen in public. It was time for some Jewish penicillin –Chicken Soup with Matzo Ball. It’s just the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and salt to try to bring a person back to some semblance of homeostasis. When I’m sick, I need food that is sustaining but is not going to sit in my gut and make me feel worse. This is not the time for cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes.

The chicken soup wars of Jewish delis are a little known event. It doesn’t seem like you could possibly be at war over a food, but delis are not just restaurants, they’re cultural centers. And when all is said and done, you have to pick a side. There’s the Izzy’s Deli people. They love the celebrity factor, and the higher than high prices that go with it. Izzy’s is a great deli. Perfect for late night coffee and cake. Great for early morning eggs. I adore the fact that it’s open 24 hours. It’s comforting to me to know there is always a place for my cravings.

Then there’s Fromin’s Deli. It’s more homey. More Jewish Grandparents, fewer actors. To me Fromin’s is comfort. It’s reliable, always great food and the staff are lovely. I have many fond memories of meeting people there and sitting for hours over tea and bagels.

So when I’m sick, it’s Fromin’s Chicken Soup with Matzo Ball I need. On Sunday my friend Anne picked me up and we went straight to the source for what makes me better. I love the 1970s décor that dominates the dining room. It reminds me of the homes that I catered in as a young lad. I did many a tour as a cater-waiter for Jewish families in my hometown where Jewish Grandmas would hire me to serve and clean, and then feed me, and feed me, and feed me. I was a teenage boy – I could eat for days.

If you’re sick, or know of someone who is, there’s little to be done for them besides time, bed rest, and soup. So whether you’re an aficionado of Izzy’s or Fromin’s, the answer is call in for a quart of the Jewish Penicillin, get the rye bread, and maybe throw in a couple of cookies or piece of cake, because this uncomfortable sickness needs some comfort food.


David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra