According to all 5 dentists I have seen since my teens, I have interesting teeth. Actually, to quote one, “amazingly interesting.” Dentists have actually called their colleagues (or assistants/hygenists) into the room to take a look at my mouth—just to show said colleagues how “interesting” my teeth are. You can’t tell from just looking at me; to the casual observer, including myself, I have fairly normal, straightish teeth.
But apparently the top right side of my mouth is a madhouse. One tooth, the second-from-the-end, has an extra cusp on the side, known as “the cusp of carabelli.” If you look this up online, it sounds as if it’s not that unusual—but I’ve had 3 dentists tell me they’ve only read about it—in dental school. “Interesting,” but no problem. However, there is another feature to my mouth that makes dentists say “hmmm” and frown: the tooth that is the furthest back in my mouth is pivoted 90 degrees. It grew in that way, and until this past year never caused any problems—and because x-rays are two-dimensional, no one took special notice of it until it started to bother me.
Long story short, the tooth had to come out. But because it is such an “unusual” tooth (another word my dentists have used), it wasn’t a simple matter of yanking. No, it was a surgical extraction. The procedure is about the same as having a wisdom tooth out, only in a different part of the mouth, and, if you’ve ever had a surgical extraction, you know it is NOT VERY PLEASANT. It is awful.
The worst part is that I couldn’t chew on that side for a week, and even then only really soft foods. I was despondent when I heard this, not just because I had a gaping hole in my mouth, but because I don’t like soft foods. I only eat soup occasionally, I don’t like drinking my calories (ie, smoothies, etc), and I LOVE CHEWING. I knew the foods I made in the next couple of weeks would have to be delicious, to distract me from the pain and sorrow of not being able to chew.
I didn’t feel like eating for a while after the procedure, and when I did opening my mouth at all was pretty rough, so I mostly took small sips of wildwood’s drinkable yogurt and made a few varieties of green smoothies. As I could fit a spoon into my mouth, I started eating soy yogurt and ice cream. But I became bored with sweet things and wanted substantial meals, so I went on a crazy soup kick.
First, a Carrot, Ginger, and Beet Soup that is apparently in Didi Emmons’s Vegetarian Planet, but I found on this site. I normally only use beets for Borscht when it comes to soup, but the thought of pureeing borscht seemed wrong. I’ll definitely make this recipe again; the ginger was a nice addition to the beet and carrot flavor.
Peaches are in season (and delicious!!!), so Peach Gazpacho from Martha Stewart’s website came next. I changed this recipe by adding a slice of bread and more water to get it the almost creamy consistency of gazpacho. Being allergic to nightshades, I’ve never actually had gazpacho, but The Boyfriend loves it, and reported that this tomato-free version is just as good as normal tomato gazpacho. In fact, he ordered tomato-y gazpacho at a restaurant a couple weeks later, and though to me they smelled the same, he said my peach one tasted better. Even though the peaches I used were ripe, the gazpacho wasn’t very sweet, which was nice—I didn’t feel like I was having dessert for dinner. However, the leftovers the next day definitely seemed sweeter. I REALLY recommend this one.
I also REALLY recommend these two soups from the gluttonous vegan.
Finding the recipe for this Spiced Parsnip and Coconut Milk Soup was easily the best part of the tooth extraction ordeal. It is delicious and filling AND by this day I had discovered that I could eat bread if I soaked it in the soup for a long time first, which was really exciting.
Being the intrepid entertainer that I am, I had a small dinner party 4-5 days after the extraction and served the gluttonous vegan’s Smoky Sweet Potato Soup. Since paprika is a pepper (nightshade), I replaced the smoked paprika with about a teaspoon of liquid smoke. I sautéed some zucchini with onions and lemon juice until it was really soft and roasted chickpeas for the side/garnish. I tried one before we ate—I could actually bite down on it! It had been 5 days since I had chewed anything, and I was so happy I almost cried.
I ate things other than soups, too! I made pesto and mixed it into mashed sweet potatoes, and served it for brunch with basic scrambled tofu.
The Boyfriend got some nice crusty bread with this brunch, but I had to do without. (So I gave myself extra avocado.)
I was still eating yogurt for my snacks, but it was getting boring, so I figured out other ways to use it, including in this Arugula Dip. It’s based on a spinach dip and is mostly arugula, silken tofu, and plain soy yogurt with some garlic, salt and pepper. Embarrassingly, I still couldn’t really eat chips at that point, so I just sorta ate the dip off of the chip. The Boyfriend got to eat the chips, though.
I also made Blueberry Crisp, here topped with ice cream that for some reason hated the flash on my camera:
Finally, though I didn’t make the following recipe after my tooth was extracted, I wish I had. All of the information the dentist gives you afterwards, and all of the websites you read, advises to eat soft things like “ice cream, pudding, and jello.” This reminded me of a recipe I made just a week or two before:
Strawberry Jelloish Dessert
Serves 4-5. It’s not very sweet, but I prefer it that way; taste before you add the agar and add more agave/sugar if you want it sweeter.
1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped into pieces no bigger than 1/2 an inch.
4 C water
1/4 C agave (or sugar) (more to taste)
1 Tbsp agar powder
Combine the strawberries, water, and sweetener in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally. After about 10 or 15 minutes, when the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat. Stir in the agar powder, and stir constantly until the powder is completely dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat, pour into either a large, flat bowl, an 8x8 baking dish, or, for swank-looking desserts like I made, into glasses. Chill in the fridge at least 1-2 hours.
Serve by itself, or garnished with fruit, ice cream, cashew crème (as below; soaked cashews and dates blended with vanilla and soymilk until whipped-cream-y), or some form of vegan whipped cream.
Anyway, I’m long back to chewing solid foods, thank goodness—but in case YOU need to go on a mush diet for a while, you’ll know what to do!