Dr. Heimlich’s Son Thinks He’s a Medical Humbug (with Corn & Sweet Potato Soup)

Recently, as I was scarfing the largest tuna salad sandwich I could construct, it occurred to me that since I work from home there is no one around to do the Heimlich on me should I choke. I mean, Tater is not exactly dexterous, shall we say. He struggles to get his toys from beneath chairs and other easily-moved furniture and will sooner rip apart an entire bed set, topsheet and all, than nose aside the single corner of the single blanket covering his bone.

Exhibit A.

I was not reassured by a sudden memory of a time I almost did choke while alone in the house, which happened during high school while I was eating chicken. I mean, tuna is the chicken of the sea. The track record is not comforting.

So I did what most people would do: I Googled. Turns out performing the Heimlich on yourself is pretty similar to performing it on another person, with the following exceptions:

1) An increased need to not panic because, you know, you are your only hope at this point.
2) If the maneuver is unsuccessful, you have to call 911, and the average response time is 10 minutes, and the tuna will have gotten the best of you by then because it only takes 4 minutes without air to cause brain damage, and you don’t have to be awesome at math to figure this out.

I scrolled through some step-by-step diagrams and felt a little better despite the above information. That is, until I traveled too far down this rabbit hole and found out all sorts of things about Dr. Heimlich, including the fact that his son has a website about his father, who he calls a fraud (among other things) and that Dr. Heimlich apparently sought to cure diseases by injecting patients with malaria. Theory: malaria would kill off the other diseases so it could be dominant. But then, you know, you have malaria. So perhaps Peter is a bit justified in questioning the reliability of his dad’s medical advice.

From what I can tell, Peter has a lot of gripes with media coverage about his father and issues with proper dating of events. His self-proclaimed investigations have led to ace reporting such as this, a compilation of corrections surrounding stories about Dr. Heimlich and an apparent debate on whether Halle Berry was or was not saved by this maneuver when choking on fruit while filming a sex scene in a James Bond film. Quoted in different articles, Pierce Brosnan either heroically performed the Heimlich or the fruit was dispelled before he could. The world may never know.

The moral of all of this is you should really just avoid choking in the first place, particularly on alleged figs while naked for the sake of a movie. I mean, duh, but also who doesn’t need the occasional reminder?

So here’s me heroically reminding you to chew your food. Slowly. And carefully. And maybe get familiar with the self Heimlich maneuverIt’s still pretty effective despite what Petey boy has to say about his dad. Also avoid the combination of nudity, fruit, and movie filming.

Another option is to eat creamy pureed soups and ice cream, which I am now doing for the sake of my health until I can teach Tater to dial 911 and also create a wormhole for the emergency responders to get to my home within 4 minutes or maybe get Pierce Brosnan on retainer.

The soup is based off of a vegan corn “chowder” I made at Christmas. I combined it with potatoes to stretch the corn and also cut down on some of the gloop factor. The recipe is vegan, but if you don’t like / have / can’t find coconut milk, you can easily substitute half and half, cream, or milk.

Three jalapenos may seem like a lot, but it only ends up mildly spicy and it helps to cut through some of the sweetness of the corn and sweet potato. Paprika is optional but recommended. I cooked my soup in a Crock-Pot so I could just set it and forget it while the potatoes cooked, but you could bring this together really quickly on the stove if you desired.

Corn & Sweet Potato Soup

1 large sweet potato (300 grams) img_20200306_105228069
1 large Russet potato (300 grams)
2 1/2 cups water
3 jalapenos
1/4 diced white onion
16 ounces frozen sweet corn
1 13.5 fl oz can coconut milk or equivalent in preferred milk
1 tsp paprika (or more to taste)
salt to taste


In a pot or kettle, put on 2 1/2 cups of water to boil.

Peel potatoes and chop into pieces. Compost peels (or give sweet potato peels to a certain begging pug). Dice onion. Remove the seeds and membrane from the jalapenos and roughly chop. Add potatoes, onion, and jalapenos into the Crock-Pot and cover with the water. Cook on high until potatoes are tender.

If cooking on the stove, you can just combine above ingredients in a pot with the water, bring it to a boil, and then simmer covered until the potatoes are cooked.

Once potatoes are fork-tender, switch the heat to low and add in the frozen corn. The corn should heat quickly. Once it’s done, add in milk and paprika. Next, blend the soup to a smooth puree. This is easiest if you have an immersion blender, but you can also transfer it into a blender and pulse until smooth.

It’s up to you how much to blend it. I like this entirely pureed. If you want to leave some chunks of potato or pieces of corn whole, I recommend dicing the jalapeno at the start so there aren’t any large pieces.

Once pureed, add salt to taste.