So, I say, it is in fact impossible to do a proper abdominal exam on yourself. I haven’t eaten solid food in three days, which is an unconscionable state of affairs for a food blogger, due to what feels like a Charlie Horse of the bowels. At first I thought it was sepsis from the bee that injected its inoculum practically into my heart on Friday. Then I considered all the ominous –itises that present with poorly characterized abdominal pain, but I settled on a self-diagnosis of gastroenteritis and proceeded to lie flat for two days, sipping ginger ale. Now I have rejoined the phalanx of the upright only to drag something like an anchor around in my gut. Of course I’m not going to the doctor; that is not what we doctor people do. We make endless differentials for our aches and pains, an exercise which is in its own right a diversional treatment strategy that works wonders, and then after bothering people in our lives with our therapeutic hemming and hawing, we do nothing and with time and proper fluid and rest it goes away. So it probably was gastroenteritis, but I always keep psychosomatic etiologies high on my own differential. Because, thank God, I know myself, with a smirk. I think therefore I feel. I see therefore I eat.
Panmarino Rosemary Bread
Adapted from The Italian Baker
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup olive oil
3 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped fine
2 tsp salt
6 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp coarse sea salt for sprinkling over the bread
Mix the warm water with the sourdough in a large bowl, wait for a few minutes until it gets bubbly. Stir the milk and oil with the paddle blade. Add the rosemary leaves, flour, and salt to the bowl. Mix gently until the flour is moistened.
Place the dough inside an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1.5 hours. Carefully remove from the bowl, cut dough in half and shape into two boules, and let it rise for 45 to 55 minutes, but don’t allow it to double in size.
As you wait for the final rise, heat the oven to 450F. Slash the bread with a razor blade forming an asterisk on top, then sprinkle coarse salt inside the cuts.
Bake 10 minutes with steam, reduce the oven temperature to 400F and bake for 35 minutes more. Remove the bread to a rack to cool, and don’t cut it for at least one hour.
This afternoon I lied on the kitchen floor and tried to palpate my abdominal organs, but the angles were all off. I noted guarding, but it is also possible that I just wanted to believe that my yoga practice works. Diffuse tenderness to palpation and percussion in all quadrants, hyperactive bowel sounds (baseline, no worries there), no obvious distension (but of course a woman would never say such a thing about herself), no hepatosplenomegaly (in fact, per my exam, I may very well be microsplenic and microhepatic, or… maybe it just felt uncomfortable so I stopped looking). Diagnosis: who cares because I think it’s going away, as evidenced by my ability to keep down tasty bread such as this.