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September 12th, 2006


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01:14 pm - distinctively unexcited by the soup
I've lost my taste for pho. I haven't wanted any for over a month now. modpixie and I stopped at the Harvard Square Pho Pasteur Le's on Friday before Bubba Ho-Tep at the Brattle, and I had my first bowl since I went to Pho Vietnam in Chinatown, my favorite pho joint, on July 31st. It failed to be as delicious as it should have been, and I didn't even finish the bowl. I was Distinctively Unexcited by the soup.

I think there's a perfectly good reason for this (and it's only partly due to the fact that Le's quality has gone downhill in recent months.) It was at Pho Vietnam on July 31st, halfway through my usual weekly bowl, when my nerves just failed and I was hit so hard with an episode of anxiety and panic that I thought I was en route to a heart attack. Went to the emergency room and spent six or seven hours hanging out in a hospital with EKG electrodes stuck to my body and an assault victim named Frank in the bed next to me whose story kept changing depending on who was asking the questions (and who decided, once the nurses had left him alone for a while, that it'd be a perfect time to light up a smoke.)

Several prescriptions and visits to a pill doctor later, we're working on reducing the anxiety and stress levels, and trying to keep the blood pressure down so as to not beat the daily high score on the testing machine at CVS. It's slow going, but things do seem to be getting better. It's just that, well, I don't want to eat pho anymore.

I don't blame the soup itself (though a beef soup with a bit of salt in probably doesn't help the ol' BP) and I don't blame the restaurant for cooking the soup, but every time recently when I've found myself in the Big City with a coupla bucks to spare for a sit-down meal, I ask myself "Hey, wanna go for pho?" and the response, instead of a "Yeah! It's been too long!" has been "...no, I don't feel like it. There's gotta be something else to eat."

I think it's the memories of the anxiety attack experience -- the sudden feeling of dizziness, the left arm pain, the shortness of breath, the surreal rising paranoia and the odd thoughts that This Could Very Well Be It -- now mingled with the aspects of the pho experience (the noodles, the eye round, the taste, the chopsticks, the big plastic spoon) that have turned me off the soup. I don't have any extreme "HOT WATER BURN BABY" moments when I think about possibly returning to Pho Vietnam any time soon, but it's more like a feeling of no, I just don't feel like pho any more. Perhaps it's also the philosophy that too much of a good thing can be too much sometimes.

I'm sure I'll have it again someday. But not right now. There's more stuff to focus on.

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:eclecticavatar
Date:September 12th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
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A true case of classical conditioning meets Post traumatic stress disorder.

You'll go back to pho. Just try not to force it! There's just no need for ruining a perfectly good soup.
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From:ladivinafemme
Date:September 12th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC)
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Hmm. Maybe ease into pho with shabu-shabu?
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From:chanaleh
Date:September 12th, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC)
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I recommend letting me take you for Thai food as a halfway step.
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From:modpixie
Date:September 12th, 2006 07:31 pm (UTC)
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just remember, right now someone is having their last meal, and it's not very good.
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From:jackbishop
Date:September 12th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
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I don't blame the soup itself

Maybe you should. Proper pho is safe, but pho's got a lot of star anise in, and dodgy star anise is quite bad for you. I'd think most respectable pho joints would be using the good stuff, but even a trustworthy-seeming supplier might end up with some of that Japanese badness mixed in.

Not to deliberately scare you or anything, but, y'know, it's something to be aware of.
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From:derspatchel
Date:September 13th, 2006 04:06 pm (UTC)
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Understandable. I've eaten at Pho Vietnam almost once a week for over a year, and had nary a complaint. While I wouldn't rule out a bad batch of star anise, there'd been lotsa stress leading up to the events of the 31st. This didn't just come outta the blue, of that I'm sure, and probably would have happened regardless of where I was dining. It's just too bad it happened at a place which was, at the time, one of my favorite places to eat.
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From:antikythera
Date:September 12th, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC)
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How Pavlovian. I recommend getting addicted to something that can be replicated reasonably well at home, like... bi bim bap, maybe.
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From:luckimunki
Date:September 13th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
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After my first experiences with panic, I couldn't ride in a car because it reminded me of the scary-ass ride in my father's car to the emergency room during my first major attack. I found, though, that when I drove myself, I didn't get the panic. It was a different experience; I was in control. After a while, riding in a car was okay again.

Maybe you just need to gradually get yourself used to eating Pho again, but change the environment. Can you get some takeout and eat it at home? Maybe with a friend around? I think if you do that for awhile, you'll be able to face that situation again.
From:zhym
Date:September 13th, 2006 04:25 am (UTC)
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I grok. It took me a few months to bring myself to eat the pizza I'd had for lunch the day of my vertigo episode last year (two fun-filled nights in the hospital after the world suddenly went all spinny and I got all clammy and my body rapidly tried to rid itself of everything inside it and we had no idea why for way too long). I knew that the pizza hadn't caused the problem, but even so, I wasn't eager to relive any part of that day.

But the association eventually goes away, mostly. Just a matter of time.
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From:jotasbrane
Date:September 13th, 2006 11:52 am (UTC)
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I just wanted to mention that when I first read "HOT WATER BURN BABY" in the above post, my natural inclination was to read it in the same tone as "Burn, baby, BURN!" This relates to nothing else whatsoever in your post; I just felt the need to share.
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From:desultor
Date:September 14th, 2006 02:28 am (UTC)
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wait, why did you cross out pho pasteur? is it not anymore????
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From:derspatchel
Date:September 14th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
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The chain was renamed a couple of months back. Same restaurant, same owner, same menu, now it's just named after the owner. I think Le even copyrighted his name, something he wouldn't have been able to do with Pho Pasteur (it's apparently a common name for pho restaurants around the country.)

Even so, the quality of their pho has declined in recent times. Either that or I just got spoiled by Pho Vietnam on Kneeland St.
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From:desultor
Date:September 14th, 2006 11:22 am (UTC)
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well, i guess that's better than it getting bought out.... that's what i was scared had happened.

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