Happy Memorial Day WAWAs!!! A great opportunity to spend time with the family, get away from the troubles at work and fire up the BBQ.
Our weekly WAWA is actually about food, but not BBQ. This week we will review the American tradition of chicken noodle soup for what ails ya’.
I came up with the idea for this post when speaking with my Japanese-American wife recently. I was surprised to find out that she was unaware that American moms have been serving up chicken noodle soup to cure the common cold (and pretty much everything else) for their children since the dawn of the country.
Let’s start with the basics.
Per Wikipedia: Chicken soup is a soup made from chicken, simmered in water, usually with various other ingredients. The classic chicken soup consists of a clear broth, often with pieces of chicken or vegetables; common additions are pasta, dumplings, or grains such as rice and barley. Chicken soup has acquired the reputation of a folk remedy for colds and flus, and in many countries is considered a comfort food.
Chicken soup has long been touted as a form of folk medicine to treat symptoms of the common cold and related conditions. In 2000, scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha studied the effect of chicken soup on the inflammatory response in vitro. They found that some components of the chicken soup inhibit neutrophil migration, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could hypothetically lead to temporary ease from symptoms of illness. However, since these results have been obtained from purified cells (and directly applied), the diluted soup in vivo effect is debatable. The New York Times reviewed the University of Nebraska study, among others, in 2007 and concluded that "none of the research is conclusive, and it is not known whether the changes measured in the laboratory really have a meaningful effect on people with cold symptoms." It has also been shown that chicken soup contains the Amino acid cysteine, which is very similar to acetylcysteine, which is used by doctors for patients with bronchitis and other respiratory infections to help clear them.
Enough with the medical mumbo-jumbo, here’s a quick tutorial on how to make a traditional pot of chicken noodle goodness:
Chicken noodle soup is even a big hit in the media here in the US.
Let’s start with a tasty hip hop song that was a huge hit in 2009:
Chicken soup is mentioned in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden: "And Tom brought him chicken soup until he wanted to kill him. The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either."
Especially for MAMAs out there, there is even a popular motivational therapy series of books entitled "Chicken Soup for the Soul":
To put a little LALAMAMA twist to the chicken noodle soup tradition, Mr. Dante recently did an extensive, exhaustive, and delicious taste test of bone broth restaurants (largely Korean-American) in Los Angeles. Over the last 2 years, bone broth has become a huge health craze, touting great healing benefits. The movement began in New York for Americans and quickly moved to LA as many things do. Even Kobe Bryant attributed bone broth in a 2014 interview as a major source of his longevity as an athlete.
Here are my top 3 bone broth restaurants in LA:
WINNER #1: Do-Ga-Ni-Tahng
Address: 716 E 9th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dish: Bone broth soup with kneebone of cattle. Taste develops richness as you eat.
Rating: 8 out of 10 bones rating
#2: Han Bat Sul Lung Tang
Address: 4163 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Dish: Bone broth soup with beef brisket, flank, intestine, spleen and tongue. Taste started great, fizzled, and then settled.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 bones
#3: Park’s BBQ
Address: 955 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Dish: Galbi Tang, light, great glass noodles, good green onions.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 bones
All I can say is that chicken noodle soup and all bone broths are a cure all, be it actual science, just the placebo effect, or both! Even Grandma Dante served Mr. Dante chicken noodle soup anytime I was sick growing up. Her super-secret trick was also serving the soup with a glass of orange juice (full of vitamin C); but that’s a different post for a different WAWA.
Till next time MAMA NATION. – Mr. Dante