I managed to make it to our fourth child before I had to take the reins and become an insurance negotiator, symptom translator and prescription picker-upper. Boy howdy!
Yes, the boy was sick this week.
‘Good morning. I have a sick child and would like to make an appointment,’ I said to the lady on the other end of the phone. ‘He’ll be a new patient.’
‘We can get him in at 10, and you’ll need to bring all of your insurance information and his shot records,’ she responded, following a brief and unsuccessful interrogation about his symptoms and my plans to pay the bill.
My wife left me with our insurance card, but I knew nothing about shot records. Either way, I had a puny child on my hands and planned to employ my negotiating skills in person.
‘Ma’am, isn’t there a system we’re all in?’ I asked the lady at the front desk. ‘Can’t you just pull up his name and everything will just pop up on the screen?’
‘Sir, his birthday is not matching up with your insurance ID number,’ she said. ‘So, nothing’s coming up.’
The other parents in the waiting room were staring at this point. Even their children looked — and coughed — toward me during my state of confusion and growing frustration. They continued as I walked to the corner of the waiting room and phoned my wife.
‘Oops. Looks like he was born a year earlier than I thought,’ I told the lady. ‘I’m a bad father … What can I say?’
Three acts of Congress and a couple of peace treaties later, the boy and I found ourselves in a patient room with a nurse.
‘So, why are we here today?’ the nurse asked, after charting the boy’s weight.
‘Well, he’s sick,’ I responded. ‘Where does it hurt son?’
The boy began to describe in detail the pain in his throat, and proceeded to explain how his mom took his temperature earlier in the morning and told him he was burning up. As she noted something on her clipboard, the nurse looked at me and asked how long he’d had the symptoms. Not knowing for sure, I looked at the boy.
‘A long time,’ he said.
While I wish that none of my children are ever ill again, I just hope that if they do get sickly — for the sake of their own health — they do it when mom’s home.
Wednesdays are my favorite days for reading newspapers, if only because that’s when most food sections are published. I came across a syndicated article some weeks ago — undoubtedly tied to the Olympic Games — that featured a Brazilian casserole of shrimp and hearts of palm, a creation of Christopher Idone in his cookbook Brazil: A Cook’s Tour.
Idone’s recipe is just a little bland for my taste buds, so I went to work. My version uses mostly the same ingredients (in different measurements) and adds only some lemon zest. It’s bright, yet warming, and has already become one of my wife’s favorite meals. Not to mention, it’s healthy.
Is it what they’re eating in São Paulo? Hell if I know, but they darn well should be.
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Brazilian style Shrimp Stew
- 1½ lbs – Jumbo Shrimp (16-20 count), deveined and peeled entirely
- 1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes w/ puree
- 1 – Small onion, chopped
- 2 cups – Vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 can (14 oz) – Hearts of palm, drained and cut into 1-inch chunks
- ¾ cup – Chopped sweet red pepper (seeded and cored)
- ½ cup – Chopped scallions, divided
- ½ cup – Chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
- ¼ cup – Extra virgin olive oil
- 3 – Garlic cloves, minced
- 2 TB – All-purpose flour
- 2 TB – Chopped cilantro
- 2 tsp – Freshly ground black pepper
- Zest from one lemon
- Salt, to taste
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil to medium-high.
- Add onion, sweet peppers and garlic; sauté until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add flour; cook for another 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add crushed tomatoes, broth, half of scallions, black pepper and lemon zest; bring to a simmer, stirring regularly.
- Simmer until vegetables are soft and liquid is reduced slightly, about 10 minutes.
- Add hearts of palm, parsley, cilantro, remaining scallions and shrimp; stir to combine.
- Bring back to a simmer, then turn off heat and cover for 5 minutes.
- Season as desired with salt; serve over steamed rice, potatoes or smashed cannellini beans (pictured).