By Debra-Lynn Hook, Kent Community TimeBank

We here at the Kent Community TimeBank call this “The Carp Story,” which began when my nutritionist, helping me recover from a serious blood disorder, told me I needed to eat a medicinal soup comprised mostly of pressure-cooked carp.

This is not a nice, pretty piece of salmon like you get with a baked potato and broccoli at Applebee’s.

But the whole bottom-feeder, ugly fish — gills, bones, teeth. Everything but the gall bladder and the bitter thyroid, which, according to the recipe, should be eradicated before the fish is cooked.


Now, I had no idea people ate carp. But in China, it is so medicinally potent, they call it the “King of Fishes.” It is known for strengthening the blood, replenishing the kidney and nourishing the liver. It is high in protein B12 and phosphorus. Breastfeeding mothers eat it to help with milk production.

Medicinal value notwithstanding, I had no idea where I was I going to find a carp, much less how I was going to relieve it of its thyroid and gall bladder and then cook it all up in a pressure cooker, eyeballs and all.

We still get a few laughs now thinking about the comments and jokes that followed my  “Anybody know where I can find a whole carp?” posting on our TimeBank’s Facebook page that day.

We also are stunned to remember how quickly folks rose to the challenge, one after the other: One knew an Asian fish market in Cleveland that carries carp and was headed there now. Another, a recently crowned Ph.D biologist, would be glad to come over that night with her dissecting kit. Another, a former macrobiotic chef, would come over the next day with her pressure cooker and help me cook.

Kent Community TB hands w clock

Within 24 hours, I’m still stunned to say, I not only had a bowl of carp soup on my kitchen table and another month’s worth in the freezer, I had a whole mouthful of gratitude for this community.

Fighting a serious illness can sometimes leave you feeling isolated. Meanwhile, with the help of this same Timebank crew, I’ve made carp soup one other time since that first time, and I’m preparing this week to make it again. Each time, I feel a little closer to something I’ve needed to believe for a long time: I am indeed not alone. Thanks, Timebank forever.