For 24 years I lived in Cambridge, Mass. with or near my parents. I was in high school when my maternal grandfather died, and I remember when my mom and brother met me at a dress rehearsal one evening to share the bad news. I was a few blocks away, living at Harvard summer school, when my dad was briefly hospitalized with an ulcer. I lived just one zip code over when my brother was hit by a motorbike and came home early from studying abroad; I was able to greet him with a basket of handpicked goodies from Shaw’s when he finally arrived.
To avoid sounding too morbid, I was often home for happy events too: every family birthday, crew meets, dinners, dirty laundry and snowstorms.
So of course it feels weird to be away, ensconced in medical school, when things have been happening at home. First one grandparent was dying; as soon as that ended, the other one seems to have started dying with hardly a break between. I would like to be there for my dad in a more substantive way than a phone call every few days.
Juggling independence with a connection to home is a regular part of growing up, hardly unique to med school. But for us who are to be managing the illnesses and deaths of other people’s loved ones, it seems invaluable to participate in the illnesses and deaths of our own loved ones. We are missing out not only on important family time, but experiences that would make us better physicians.
Some of my earliest memories are sitting on the counter top next to my dad while he cooked. Now when I’m home, we cook side by side. Last weekend I went home and fried up these zucchini flowers for the whole family.
Fried Zucchini Flowers
- fresh zucchini or squash blossoms (best and easiest to find if picked directly from the garden)
- one egg, beaten
- canola or olive oil
Trim the flowers: snap off their stems and any small green spikes near the base. In a large bowl, toss the flowers in the beaten egg. Cover a plate in breadcrumbs and coat each flower in breadcrumbs. Heat about half a centimeter of oil in a frying pan; test the heat by dropping in a breadcrumb—it should sizzle immediately. Lay the flowers one by one into the frying pan; when golden brown on the bottom, turn each flower over using tongs or two forks. Cook until the other side is golden brown. Take out of the frying pan and cool on paper towels or a paper bag. Sprinkle salt over the flowers and eat immediately.
Fresh from the garden.
Hot and ready to eat!
Thanks to my friend Anna for her gorgeous garden bounty!
The Med School Cookbook offers a weekly account of the challenges and wonders of med school as seen through the eyes of a student. Each post includes a healthy and easy recipe designed for busy people on a budget. Read the daily blog here.