No, not like that.

6 years (and 4 days) ago, my eldest son went into the operating theatre, where the doctors were going to extract about a pint (imperial pint, not a fake South Australian pint) of bone-marrow. They do this with individual five millilitre syringes, one at a time. 120 of them. Anyway – let’s not dwell on that bit. This bone-marrow was for my other son who was 7 days into conditioning chemo as part of treatment for leukaemia.

It was terrible and difficult and shit, but also incredible. Because it worked, and I think we even had a pretty “easy” run compared to others. He’s here on the couch in the living room watching Survivor. Which is apt, now that I think about it.

Because he didn’t have any immune system until the bone-marrow took hold and started growing and producing cells, he was isolated in hospital. Triple doors. Positive pressure room. Two non-parent, non-medical, non-hospital-staff visitors. Total, for the whole time he was in there.

That whole time was tipped to be about 60-100 days.

And this is why I think we had an “easy” run. Because 34 days later he was out of the hospital and we were living in an apartment near the hospital while we finalised a few things before travelling back to Adelaide. Semi-isolation.

The hospital food was, by all reports, drab. So the first dinner out of hospital with “real” food had to be special, but still had to be home-cooked and fresh because of infection risks.

I was asked to make Massaman curry, and seeing that food disappear without any negotiating was incredibly special.

On that day Massaman became the most emotional and meaningful meal I can cook for my family, and I often have a quiet little moment with myself when I do.

Recipe has been requested. Here goes. If an ingredient doesn’t have a quantity listed, it calls for “some” of it where where “some” is what feels right.

1/4 cup peanuts
2 shallots (or half an onion)
5 cloves of garlic
inch-cube of ginger (ish)
1-2 chillies
ground cumin
ground coriander
small amount of nutmeg
cloves (1 or 2)
cardamom (black stuff, not with the pods)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
Peas (this is purely optional, but is how I cooked it on that night 6 years ago, so….that’s how it remains)

Put everything (except the potatoes, peas) in a blender with a bit of coconut milk and blend into a smooth paste.

Brown some meat, then add the paste and the remainder of the tin of coconut milk.

Cook until tender, adding water as required. Dice the potatoes and chuck them in and cook until it’s all done. Some more peanuts and the peas at the end.

Serve on rice.