what was in that fish soup?

Although Medellin is landlocked, there are a few places that have excellent seafood, (if you know where to look).  A couple of local places serve a seafood casuela, which is a mix of different types of seafood (non-fish), kind of like a stew, served with a side of coconut rice or patacones and a salad.  A couple of them also serve a fish sancocho, which is also stew-like and made up of local starches such as yucca, potato, plantain, corn, and of course fish.  I was thinking about one of those dishes last Saturday afternoon.  After a good ride in the morning and the fact that I was returning to NYC that evening, I was looking forward to one of these seafood rich soups.

But before moving on, I’d be remiss not to finish some thoughts on triple crankset riding.  Before moving from Medellin in 2007, I sold my marin bike to a friend (who still has it).  Because I liked it so much, I bought another one in NYC the next year.  I’ve been using it regularly.  I haven’t used the granny gear much, but I like the idea that it’s there.  For longer rides I usually prefer the all carbon BMC which has a standard double.

Why do I bring this up again?  Because I was fortunate this week to have had coffee with a good riding buddy who I haven’t seen in a while.  He’s one of the very few I know who rides a high-end carbon frame road bike with a triple crank.  He’s also one of the strongest riders I know.  Not many guys blasting along the popular road riding corridors around NYC would be caught dead using a triple.  For most, it’s all about speed (and appearance).  But there is a universe of riding desires.

When I started working a full-time winter job after college, I was 20 years old and owned a car and a motorcycle.  Most days though, when it was nice and I had time, I’d ride my bicycle to work.  Some folk where I worked thought I was nuts for doing so.  It was only about seven miles and I didn’t ride for exercise, nor to economize, and I certainly wasn’t thinking of reducing my carbon footprint.  I rode because I loved the action of riding.  It was just pure enjoyment to be on the bike.

Maybe it was just the feeling that riding a bike is the most efficient, by far, mode of transportation.  Besides, riding seemed (and is) so liberating and free, much more so than walking or being in a motorized vehicle.

When I was 29, I moved to San Francisco and packed the same Schwinn 27 speed (yes, it had a triple), that I used when I was 20.  After I settled in and got a job, on my off days, I’d get on my bicycle and purposely get lost in a different district in the city.  Over the course of the next couple of months, I got to know San Francisco fairly well as I had crisscrossed my way across the city by bike.

During the next few years, I made it a habit to take that same bike out every Sunday for a long ride.  It was the least I could do for a bike that had been good to me.  Most Sundays I’d ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and north, every week gong a little further and somewhere different.  I was never in a hurry, never in a race, almost always alone.  The joy, besides the act of riding, was stopping when the urge struck to enjoy a strong cappuccino and local grainy muffin, or a bag of nuts and fresh squeezed juice.  As I got to know the area, I’d head up through Marin, somewhere near or around Sammuel P Taylor State Park, or up through Napa Valley and back through Sanoma, or occasionally down the peninsula to San Jose.  The triple on the old Schwinn was my friend.

But I digress.  During coffee I was reminded that my friend Brian is kind of the same way.  I met him years ago on one of my rides back from Bear Mountain (about 100+ mile rt from my place).   Just two guys who found each other doing something we each love doing.  In fact, he loves riding so much he’s getting ready for a RAAM qualifier in September which is a 540 mile event.  Better him than me.  But it’s riding one of those events, where there are thousands of vertical feet thrown in, that you bow down and give thanks to granny.

Anyhow, returning from a double regress, last week I didn’t pick any of the places I knew that had the delicious seafood soups, rather opting for a local Peruvian place called Pisco y Marisco.  They have a soup called aquadito, which is also a quite savory fish stew, (kind of like the chicken version, but with fish).  It was calling my name.  But when I ordered I noticed they had a special I had not seen (or heard of) before called ceviche a la parrilla.  I couldn’t decide between the dishes so I ordered both as I was feeling a little undernourished and knew there would be no chance to eat again until NYC.

Can I say that the ceviche a la parrilla, which was pieces of barbecued fish served in an complex flavored broth was one of the best ceviche dishes I’ve ever had.  I savored every spoon full and it quickly became my new favorite.

But something strange happened as I was eating the soups.  As I was chewing, I felt something in my left jaw twinge.  It was an eery feeling.  After lunch the feeling persisted.  I tried not to pay attention to it but by the next morning I could feel that the action of chewing was more difficult.  By Sunday evening back in NY, eating a soft vegetable soup set off a pain in the jaw area that sent me to the fetal position for hours.  The next morning my face was swollen face.

My jaw tightened up worse than before.  I could barely get a toothbrush in sideways.  I wrote and called the surgeons office but couldn’t get a hold of anyone so I just went there.  The doctor wasn’t there but the nurse saw me and called him.  The result?  I had to be admitted immediately to the hospital where I spent the next three days (and two nights) receiving antibiotics through an IV.  The swelling has gone down, but the tightness of jaw is still an issue.  Opening enough for anything wider than spoon width is still a problem.

I keep thinking, ‘what was in that fish soup?’   It may have been nothing, and maybe it was the act of chewing something at the time.  Who knows.  But whatever it was set off a chain reaction that changed the direction of what I may need to do to fight the ORN.  Likelihood is, there is something more advanced than previously realized.  And it’s not pretty.

For the ugly, stay tuned for next week’s blog it’s a done deal.

3 thoughts on “what was in that fish soup?

  1. mosswood

    It is amazing that you can describe so much wonder of color and texture of your varied experiences while you are awaiting a not too pleasant experience. Keeping your whole self alive is truly being alive. Cheers & Prayers.

  2. Anonymous

    Fred: Oh my. Frightening description. You remain in my thoughts and prayers. Get well my good friend. Luv ya mon, Stryker


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