Food For Ill People

I think my appendix could be about to burst. Or something chronic.
I’ve tried to go to the doctors, but I can’t get an appointment until next Wednesday evening. I might be dead by then. The only small comfort is that I could be hailed as a martyr for the NHS. Probably not though.

When I was little, there were two small perks of illness: Ill-Person’s-TV (episodes of Blue Peter I might’ve missed while I was out at brownies, compiled on one ultimate mix-video), and Ill-Person’s-Food, which, in our house, was ‘gries schmarn’ – a Czech dish passed down my mum’s side of the family.

When your tummy needs to be gently cajoled into eating, and your nose can’t deal with anything too fragrant, and you’re too shattered to even do proper chewing and eating with a knife and fork, this is perfect.

You have to be careful choosing Ill-Person’s-Food. Thick dairy products can get easily thrown up again, and fruit can be too acidic on sensitive stomachs. I once had a stonkingly bad hangover and turned to a bowl of plain mashed potato to fill my tum and rebalance the food-alcohol ration in my system. Not a good idea.

Semolina has bad reputation from the prunes and custard horror days of school dinners, but I really recommend this to all the sickly people out there who have been struck down by Norovirus or who might have exploding appendixes too.



Gries Schmarn
2oz semolina (50 grams)
½ pint milk
1 small egg
sugar to taste
handful of sultanas
2oz butter (50 grams) – though I only used 25g which still seemed like quite a lot.

Mix together the semolina, milk, egg, sugar and sultanas. Melt the butter in a dish and pour the mixture in. Bake in a moderate oven (180C) for about ½ hour stirring occasionally.

• It’s fine to store semolina in the fridge and reheat in the microwave, but add a splash of milk as you reheat it and stir mid-way through heating.
• Serve the gries schmarn with a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon and a couple of extra knobs of butter.

PS. Let me know what your Ill-Person’s-Food is in case I get bored with gries schmarn.


  1. Alicia says

    Sad to hear you’re ill – but impressed with you taking the time and energy to blog! My ill-person food is obvious: soup, bread, and jelly for pudding. But when you’re recovering nothing beats spicy vegetables like baby aubergines with chili, garlic and ginger. Get better soon!

  2. Bunny Eats Design says

    I’ve always been fascinated by ill people food. It seems to be a tradition passed through families and I think you can tell a lot about a family by what they make for their sick.

    I’ve never used semolina before, but this sounds like a very mild, soothing way to be introduced to a new ingredient. Thanks for sharing your Granny’s recipe!

    In my family chicken congee was a typical sick person’s food. Watered down so it was not too different from chicken soup. Also glass noodle soup with think slivers of pork was another easy to eat and high protein dish.

    I feel sad to think there must be people out there with no family tradition to comfort them when they are faced with sickness.

    • says

      Much to my shame I’d never actually heard of a congee….have looked it up though, and it looks delicious.
      I agree that ill people’s food is an interesting subject – and a huge help in recovery – which is an extra reason why it’s such a tragedy that hospital food in Britain is so disgusting.

  3. says

    I use semolina on my roast potatoes to make them extra crispy… now I know what to make with that sad looking bag inbetween roast dinner days! Even reading this recipe makes me feel better – perfect comfort food! p.s. love the picture of the original recipe, love your granny’s handwriting

    • says

      We tried your semolina roasties for lunch today. Delicious! Thanks for the tip.

      Thank you also for making my grandad a happy man by complimenting my late, and much-missed granny’s handwriting! He has neither internet nor much concept of blogging, but sometimes asks for a look when he visits, and was very cheery about the appreciation of granny’s hand-written cookbook!

  4. says

    Sorry to hear you’ve been ill but nice to know you’re thinking about food even when at death’s door. It may be that I’ve never been so ill that I’ve shied away from strong flavours and chewing but when I’m under the weather (good old stereotypical man-flu) I always crave something incredibly spicy. I think it’s a sub-conscious belief that a good handful of birds-eys chillies will literally burn away the illness from inside. The ultimate comfort food for me is a simple bowl of pasta with fried chorizo and chili (for some reason I prefer the heat from dried chillies in this rather than the sharper heat that you get from fresh chillies). If I’m ill I’ll add a few more chillies to compensate.

    I don’t think we had a family tradition when it comes to feeding an illness. Brandy I suppose is probably the closest we had to a common approach (with varying amounts of honey and lemon).

    • says

      My boyfriend’s family drink whiskey when they’re ill….but they drink whiskey when they’re healthy too. Brandy sounds like a good option. Better than chillies and chorizo. I’m blown away by your committment to the heat. Impressive!

  5. Chloe Arbury says

    My Ill-person-food is probably the occasional biscuit. I don’t eat much when I’m ill. :) Sorry to hear that you’re ill-get well soon!!!

    • says

      I sometimes go for a ginger biscuit to settle an uneasy stomach, or a little bit of shortbread for energy…but I couldn’t do a big cookie or a chocolate biscuit. You must have a far stronger stomach than I do!
      Lovely to hear from you Chloe! xx


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