Some fruity advice

Breaking news: a woman at my gym just told me about a CURE for CANCER.


It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for! The War on Cancer, launched by President Richard Nixon in 1971, is over!

I can’t believe this earth-shattering news hasn’t hit the airwaves yet. None of the major news organizations have broken the story yet.

Hmmm. That’s weird.

Well, I suppose she’s just ahead of the curve. She must be a genius to know of this CURE for CANCER well before anyone else.

Here’s how it went down: This woman, whom I’ve never laid eyes on before, was chatting with an acquaintance of mine. We’re “gym friends” — we see each other at the gym and exchange pleasantries. She may know my name, but only because she hears the trainer yelling it when he wants me to quit chatting and get to work. I don’t know her name, nor do I know the name of the woman who knows the CURE for CANCER.

For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to call my acquaintance Francesca (because I’ve always liked that name), and I”ll call the woman who knows about the CURE for CANCER Koo-Koo Bird.

Francesca and Koo-Koo Bird were talking while on the AMT, my favorite cardio machine, when I climbed on next to Francesca; Koo-Koo Bird was on the machine against the wall. Francesca asked me how my newly repaired knee is healing (badly and slowly and painfully) and how my rehab is going (much the same). In the course of our chitty-chat she asked how long ago it was that I was diagnosed with cancer. Koo-Koo Bird’s ears perked up at the mention of cancer–likely because she was eager to tell me that she knows of the CURE for CANCER.

Koo-Koo Bird, who has a very thick Indian accent and a very soft voice, didn’t even bother asking my name before asking me pertinent details about my cancer diagnosis. I’ve never been one to shy away from answering direct questions, so I gave her the deets. She nearly fell off the AMT in her haste to tell me, in her heavily accented and soft voice, about the CURE for CANCER.

I still had a mile and a half to go on the AMT, so I was rather a captive audience and I listened to Koo-Koo Bird describe the magical powers of soursoap.

“Excuse me?” I said. “Soursoap?” Never heard of it.

Francesca was all ears and asked Koo-Koo Bird to spell it. Koo-Koo BIrd wasn’t sure how to spell it, but said that her sister-in-law, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, chose to use it instead of chemo after her bilateral mastectomy two years ago and bam! her cancer is gone!

Well. That is interesting. Could it be, I asked Koo-Koo Bird, that the mastectomy rid her sister-in-law of the cancer, rather than the soursoap?

No, no, no, Koo-Koo Bird assured me. It was the soursoap that CURED her sister-in-law’s CANCER. It works, she said, very softly. It really works.

Francesca asked Koo-Koo Bird again how to spell it, for she must have missed the press releases and news stories about this miracle drug. Koo-Koo Bird said oh, it’s not a drug…it’s a fruit.

Well, why didn’t you say so, Koo-Koo? A fruit that can CURE CANCER. That makes perfect sense.

Francesca whipped out her iPhone right then and there, mid-stride on the AMT, to google the wonder fruit. She couldn’t find a darn thing about the magical powers of a fruit to CURE CANCER; probably because Koo-Koo Bird didn’t know how to spell it.

No matter, because Koo-Koo Bird told us everything we need to know about it. Except how to spell it. It’s grown in Central and South America as well as some Asian countries. It’s related to the paw paw and the cherimoya, the latter of which I know about because I’ve seen it on “Chopped.” When cherimoya is one of the mystery-basket ingredients, the contestants either start sweating because they know that the seeds are poisonous, or they risk being chopped because they don’t know that the seeds are poisonous. Not wanting to interrupt, I did not share that little tidbit with Koo-Koo Bird.

Koo-Koo Bird spent a lot of time telling me how soursoap is better than chemo and how it changed her sister-in-law’s life. Her sister-in-law apparently was at death’s door with breast cancer, until she started eating and juicing the soursoap that was delivered to her via FedEx fresh off a tree in some unknown tropical locale. Francesca asked if the wonder fruit is available in a can, and Koo-Koo Bird said she doesn’t know, but even if it does, you shouldn’t eat or drink anything that comes from a can because canned goods can CAUSE CANCER. Koo-Koo Bird then asked me if I ate a lot of canned foods before I was diagnosed. Before I could answer, she quickly and softly listed all the other CAUSES of CANCER: red meat, bottled water, and Tupperware among them.

Oh boy.

How is it that with all the research I personally have done–which is a pittance compared to the amount the Hubs has done–I missed the data on soursoap? Koo-Koo Bird says it’s thousands times more powerful than chemo, and that it does not kill the non-cancerous cells, like chemo does. How did I not know that a high-alkaline diet is more effective than pharmaceuticals in fighting cancer? Koo-Koo Bird said that the role of alkalinity in diet was proven to be a CURE for CANCER before World War II and that the man who realized this was in the running for the Nobel Prize, but because he was a Jew he missed out on the prize and the credit for CURING CANCER.

Wait a minute, I said. Are you telling me that there’s been a CURE for CANCER all these years, but the world at large doesn’t know about it because of anti-Semitism?? Koo-Koo Bird turned quite serious and said yes.

Then she went on to tell me that soursoap could also cure anything from diarrhea to migraines to bed-wetting.

Koo-Koo Bird was quite adamant that I look into this wonder fruit that can CURE CANCER. I finished my sprint on the AMT and patted myself on the back for not telling Koo-Koo Bird exactly what I think of people who feel compelled to tout a CURE for CANCER. I smiled politely, told her it was nice to meet her, and ran like hell. Well, actually I hobbled like hell because my newly repaired knee does not and likely will not ever endorse running.

I did not tell Koo-Koo Bird that until she herself had cancer, she could never know how insulting and annoying it is to have some random stranger quiz you on what you did wrong to CAUSE your CANCER. I did not tell her that hearing her crack-pot nonsense touted as fact made me want to punch her in the brain. I did not mention that those of us who’ve endured a cancer diagnosis neither need nor appreciate unsolicited advice. I did not tell Koo-Koo Bird to pull her head out of her arse. I did not call her a tool.  I did not suggest that if there were a CURE for CANCER, we might have heard about it on the news or seen it online or read about it in a newspaper or magazine. I did not school Koo-Koo Bird on the fact that cancer is not one single disease, but a complex and multi-layered shitbox full of different diseases, and that even within one subgroup of cancer, like breast cancer, there are a million different combinations of factors and characteristics, so the idea of a CURE for CANCER is inherently misleading.

I thought about soursoap and Koo-Koo Bird for the rest of my workout. And when I got home, after peeling off my sopping-wet clothes and queing up the ice bags for yet another freezing session for my newly repaired knee, I took a little look-see into soursoap.

First thing I discovered is that it’s spelled soursop, not soursoap. I’ll have to tell Koo-Koo Bird next time I see her.

I’ll also have to tell her that while eating a varied diet and consuming foods like soursop that are high in vitamins B and C is a good idea in general, it’s not a panacea and it will not CURE CANCER.

Turns out that while soursop may have some overall health benefits, evidence of its cancer-curing properties having been tested on any actual humans is hard to find. In what may be a huge disappointment to Koo-Koo Bird, I didn’t spend much time researching it, so perhaps I missed the links to the clinical trials of soursop. In my limited research, I did find several references, such as one from Sloan-Kettering saying “human data are lacking” on soursop. There is plenty of data, however, showing that the fruit contains a heaping helping of annonacin, which has been shown in actual studies to lead to Parkinson’s when eaten in large amounts.


Well, I guess I’ll continue swallowing a Tamoxifen tablet every day for the next 3 years (minimum) and relying on CT-scans and MRIs instead of enjoying a bowl of soursop to CURE my CANCER.


Thanks for nothing, Koo-Koo Bird.




A culinary adventure was had by a fearless foursome from the ‘burbs. We ventured out of The Bubble down to the Montrose area of H-town, where tattoo parlors and antique shops compete with clothing resale boutiques and enough restaurants to fulfill date nights for months. Walking from our car we passed by BJ Oldies Antiques, and I was taken with the herd of colorful, metal, winged pigs. 

Because the herd was congregated so close to Westheimer, a busy main road, I didn’t get a very good shot but suffice to say the pig-loving girl in my house needs one of these. She wants a green one, so now the only question is big or small?

I may have to bring home a weenie dog for myself. I’ve always wanted a weenie dog. Instead I got a weasel dog.

Charming as they were, we didn’t leave The Bubble to shop for yard art. We had a reservation at Feast Rustic European Fare. Fans of The Travel Channel’s “Man vs Food” show would love this restaurant. Not because of the huge portions but because of the utter strangeness of it.

Feast is a crazy experience. It’s been described by foodies, critics, and restaurant writers in glowing terms. Allison Cook, food critic for The Houston Chronicle said Feast is “less like eating at a restaurant than going to the home of a friend who was an inspired cook. And who happens to live on a farm.” The New York Times said that Feast has “no real peer in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities that pride themselves on their epicurean adventurousness.” The Food Network’s “Outrageous Food” has filmed an episode at Feast. I can certainly see why.

It’s a vegetarian’s nightmare, by the way.

I survived the meal, and enjoyed what I ate, but was afraid to peruse the menu too intently, and I needed horse blinders to avoid seeing the carnage on other diners’ plates. The chalkboard touting the evening’s specials listed Rabbit Skeleton. For real. As in, something people would willingly order and eat.


I will say this for Feast: they really care about the animals they serve up for people to devour. From the Feast website:

“We do not use ANY meat or meat product from factory farmed, intensively raised animals in our restaurant. A full list of exactly where your dinner is coming from is posted on the website and on the back of the menu.”

So on any given night at Feast, you know where everything comes from. It looks like this: Today Your Meal Came From: Sebastien Bonneau, Countryside Farms, Cedar Creek, TX Ducks, Rabbits, Guinea Fowl, Oxtail, Bones, Livers, Fat; Henry Bryan, Bryan Farms, Brenham, TX Chickens: Glen and Honi Boudreau, Jolie Vue Farms, Brenham, TXTongues, Heads, Livers, Kidneys etc; Allen Harrison, Harrison Hog Farms, Beasley, TX Pigs; Dustin Hoeinghaus, Weimar, TX Eggs; Niman Ranch Bellies, Shanks, Cheeks, Bacon, Lard. That Feast has this quote from Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma says a lot about the restaurant’s attitude toward animals as food: 

“The industrialization-and brutalization–of animals in America is a relatively new phenomenon: no other country raises and slaughters its food animals quite as intensively or as brutally as we do. No other people in history has lived at quite so great a remove from the animals they eat.  Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent we would not long continue to raise, kill and eat animals the way we do. Tail-docking and sow crates and beak-clipping would disappear overnight – for who could stand the sight? Yes, meat would get more expensive. We’d probably eat less of it too, but maybe when we did eat animals, we’d eat them with the consciousness, ceremony and respect they deserve.”
The menu changes daily, and instead of a laminated booklet it’s a piece of paper. Mine had some grease stains on it, and I soon learned why.  There is some weird stuff on that menu. And Trevor ordered two of the weirder items: Warm Fat on Toast as a starter (yes, that is for real), and Bath Chaps. More on that in a sec.
The menu changes daily, and instead of a laminated booklet it’s a piece of paper. Mine had some grease stains on it, and I soon learned why.  There is some weird stuff on that menu. And Trevor ordered two of the weirder items: Warm Fat on Toast as a starter (yes, that is for real), and Bath Chaps. More on that in a sec.
Our waitress, Jody, began her spiel about the evening specials, both of which involved rabbit, and I literally plugged my ears. Unfortunately, the man at the table next to us ordered the Rabbit Skeleton, hence the need for horse blinders. 
Clever marketers that they are, Feast does have some non-meat options, in which I gratefully found refuge. 

The Feta Parcel was amazing: a rectangle of salty, briny feta doused in herbs and a mysterious yet delicious liquid, wrapped in foil then baked to almost-creamy proportion, served on ultra-crispy thick toast. That, along with the champagne cocktail and house bread, could make a mighty fine meal for me. However, there was more to come, as we shared each other’s starters. Well, I shared the ones that were safe for a non-meat-eater, which meant Jill’s Mulligatawny Soup. One word: yum. I gave Keith’s Black Pudding, Peas, Mint and a Fried Egg a miss, along with Trevor’s Warm Fat on Toast. Luckily, no one at our table ordered the Deviled Chicken Bones. While repulsed, I am curious about whether people actually eat the bones. I have a vision of a dog getting into the trash and horking up a shard of chicken bone that’s lodged in his throat.


I expected the Warm Fat on Toast to be like butter or lard, but it was cubed and slightly chunky. I neither tasted nor smelled it. One glance was enough for me. Trevor, however, was much more fond of this dish than I.

We were all intrigued by the Anchovies with Clotted Cream on Toast (lots of toast being served at Feast). After Jody hyped this dish, we capitulated and were rewarded with a crostini of sorts with a thick layer of clotted cream and a single, whole anchovy atop its lush bed. Perfect combination of salty, crunchy, and creamy.

On to the entrees! Mine was the Panade of Mushrooms, Fennel and Leeks. I read a lot about food, and yet was unfamiliar with the term “panade.” Always glad to learn something new, and dangerously close to not finding an entree because of my fear of looking too closely at the menu, I was happy that Jody recommended this dish. It’s a big bowl of mushrooms, fennel, and leeks, as promised, bathed in a thin yet substantial sauce with melted and broiled cheese on top. The whole bowl goes in the oven and it was super hot. Yummy, but heavy. I’m used to my vegetarian fare being a little lighter. Most of the panade remained in the bowl.

Jill shared a bite of her whole Amberjack cooked in paper, which was delicious. I’m glad she gave me a tidy bite and I didn’t have to deal with the bones. Enough with the skeletons.

And then there was the Bath Chaps with Garlic Rutabaga and Swiss Chard. Trevor and Keith both chose this entree, and neither one finished. In fact, they could have easily shared one and still been thrown into a Fat Coma. 

I’ve lived all of my almost-42 years without ever coming across bath chaps. It’s basically the lower cheeks and jowl of a long-jawed pig that is cured like bacon. This dish also had something to do with the pig’s tongue as well, although I tried to avoid taking in those details. Of the pork cheeks, it’s been said that “It’s as if the best carnitas and the best pork belly got married and had a baby,” and as much as I like babies, I avoided this one like the plague.

The amount of animal fat in this dish must have been staggering, because Trevor and Keith are both consummate carnivores, and both left copious amounts of cheek, jowl, and tongue in their bowls. While apparently very flavorful, it’s also very filling, and I shuddered to think at the effect on one’s digestive system. In fact, I predicted that such a meal would make one *%$# one’s brains out. Trevor was so stuffed he couldn’t even fit in an after-dinner drink at Anvil, the hipster bar we stopped into and had to seek refreshment from a bottle of Pelligrino. Even then, he woke up feeling hung over, but not from booze. The Fat Coma has lingering effects.

No one needed a single thing beyond the dregs of the French red blend we were drinking, but we ordered a Sticky Toffee Pudding with Clotted Cream and 4 forks, because we figured a visit to Feast wouldn’t be complete without a thorough stuffing of one’s gut. The few bites I had were swoon-inducing: buttery, brown-sugary, moist, and magical.

Feast was not only a feast but also an adventure. The fearless foursome all agreed it was worth leaving The Bubble to experience this crazy place.