Thursday, 12 February 2015

Turtle Soup

I was once prescribed turtle soup to cure a headache, and so despite it being against my dietary preferences and principles set out to obtain some or failing that, a green sea turtle to make my own. And before you write in to express your horror at one, the professional who recommended this, and two, my willingness to abandon my so-called committed vegetarian lifestyle, I advise you read my side of the story before casting a judgemental stone.
It was not, as you may think, a decision I made lightly. I abhorred the very suggestion that I should consider it and initially dismissed it as a potential remedy, but when your head feels as though it's clamped in a nutcracker your morals instantly disappear like white rabbits in top hats, and when they do magically come back after your attack, the damage has already been done.
Stabs, jabs, and jolts...a red hot poker, the swing of a mallet and the whirring grind of a chain saw. And no, this is not my indelicate way to expound how to prise the shell from the turtle's flesh, although I'm sure there are those in the trade who would be this brutal, but my description of suicidal headaches in blunt adjective words.
This type of pain has been likened to an ice pick. A sharp burst that comes out of nowhere as if a mountaineer is attempting to find a firm foothold. Chip! Chip! There he goes again behind the eye or in the temple. But for others, it's more like a barman mixing a drink: he retrieves the ice with a chink-chink, then clonks these into an empty tumbler, unscrews a bottle of spirit with a twist and generously sloshes this on the transparent rocks so that they neatly collide with one another.
Described thus, this kind of headache could be said to imitate art, which I guess it does in a metaphorical way. Sufferers, like myself, often verbalise and visualise pain as a metaphor or analogy, and as one symptom generally leads neatly to another, a similar jab in a different spot or an entirely new stab in the exact same location, paint a comic strip where each frame flows effortlessly. Everything in a headache scenario comes together perfectly like a page-turning detective plot or a handed-down recipe, which of course brings me again to the subject of this discourse, the turtle. Aren't I clever to have made us come full circle?
After an episode of five debilitating days of seeing coloured stars like a cartoon figure and with changeable, but nonetheless painful symptoms, which at one point made me want to crack my skull open to release the pressure, I was finally ready to reconsider the matter of the turtle. Now, I'm not one for medicating myself with over-the-counter drugs, as I prefer to either let things take their natural course or find an alternative solution, and diet is, unfortunately or fortunately depending at how you look at it, one of these measures. A friend qualified in this area, as well as herbalism and Chinese Medicine, recommended turtle soup.
I thought turtle flesh was an aphrodisiac and a delicacy, not a migraine remedy, I told her. No, she said, it has recently been proven to have pain-relief effects. Maybe you should try it. I really didn't like the sound of it, but with my current head I just couldn't function. I wasn't comfortable with buying a can on the internet or getting involved with an unscrupulous trader as I couldn't be sure how the turtle had been treated or if the flesh was the genuine article, so I made for the London Aquarium, thinking maybe that if I could just get up close to one I might be able to steal it. Well, what I can say, except my brain made a dubious scheme seem doable.
However when I saw a live turtle with my befuddled eyes, my plan immediately fell by the wayside. It was too beautiful! And weirdly seeing it in its natural soup of salt water and tropical fish did vanquish my headache.

*No turtles suffered in the research of or the making of this story, as it is entirely fictional.