Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Tuesday, August 28, 2012
    The British have a real talent for desserts. (Have you noticed this?) I may be more prone to their charms because of my UK heritage, or because I'm not a chocoholic. Most traditional Anglo desserts aren't based on chocolate. Or because I think everything goes better with gravy - the dessert variation is a baked or steamed dessert with a sauce on top. As a med student many years ago I wangled my way into a plastic surgery rotation at Oxford, and whenever the hospital canteen served rhubarb crumble with custard sauce I was the happiest camper in town. Yes, the custard was lumpy and made from Bird's dessert powder, but even so.

    Though I adore it, trifle may not be to everyone's taste... but if you haven't tasted sticky toffee pudding, put it on your bucket list. Yes, it is that good. Steamed desserts like Spotted Dick (it has currants in it, and in Britain it comes in a can. No, really) and sticky toffee pudding are good but best reserved for cold weather. Not to worry, the Brits excel at summer desserts too. They pioneered the class of desserts known as "fools," usually a mixture of fruit and cream, chilled. The fruit can be cooked as in gooseberry fools, or raw, crushed and macerated with sugar, such as raspberry fools. You whip the cream, chill the fruit, and mix the two together.

    A variant of this idea is Eton Mess. The name comes, I think, from the fact that the schoolboys at Eton would mash everything on the dessert plate together with their spoons and then eat it. It sounds unappetizing but it is really delicious. It is now past high strawberry season and I should have posted this earlier, but here we go. The recipe is made easier by the existence of Trader Joes, which sells vanilla meringues in large plastic buckets. If you don't have a TJ's near you, you may be forced to make your own, or look around at any local specialty stores.

    Ingredients are simple: strawberries, meringues, whipping cream. You will use equal parts of each. Crush the meringues, but not too finely. Mix with sliced strawberries and whipped cream. Let chill for a little while, maybe half an hour, and eat. You want the meringue to still be a little crunchy. Yum.


    Thursday, August 23, 2012
    "I won't quit smoking"
    You said, after the tumor
    You died yesterday.

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    Tuesday, August 21, 2012
    Having been seduced by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, I have come to realize that maybe I would blog more if I settled for shorter posts. I feel the need to do this, just to share the madness of actual medical practice. Here is one actual conversation from yesterday:

    Patient: I'm depressed. I think maybe it's because of global warming.

    Me: ...um. Are you doing stuff about it? Like recycling, and trying to drive less?

    Patient: yes, but I still feel sad. Maybe I need medication.

    Me: Maybe you should turn off the news.