Before vaccines, my siblings and I went through all the childhood illnesses as well as frequent bouts of ear aches, sore throats and stomach bugs. When we went to bed, our appetites took a nose dive and food didn’t appeal. My mother had two foods for invalids, toast and orange juice. She cut the toast into strips such as those above and made them into a little log cabin. She diluted the orange juice to a very pale version of itself and served it in a glass with a glass straw. When we saw the glass straw, we acknowledged that we were in fact sick.
Illnesses merited a special green metal tray to deliver food to the invalid. We were expected to eat all the toast and sip a glass of the pale juice before we were allowed to get out of bed and rejoin the family table. I still remember the mixed feelings of being treated as special but feeling horrible at the same time. I preferred regular meals.
My mother had some mysterious illness in childhood which she never really explained to us. All that she told us was that for a long time she had to drink beef juice. Apparently this was derived from meat somehow by the family cook. It sounded awful, and we were glad we didn’t have to drink it. When she was pregnant she had to eat calf’s liver per her doctor’s orders. Fortunately, she didn’t share it with us. However the fact that she didn’t share it made it seem very adult and very desirable, and I acquired a taste for it when I grew up.
As a parent I relied on steamed white rice when a child was ill. I still turn to it for myself when I am ailing. I never acquired a glass straw. Now, I hear, they may finally be coming back in fashion as a substitute for plastic ones. Everything old is new again!