Published on the Small Girls, Big Kitchen College website on January 13, 2012
This post comes to us from a familiar male contributor, Chris Duffy, who has spent significant amounts of time in Korea, Greece, and Africa. With him, he brought back not only the occasional parasite (ew), but some knowledge of everyday foreign culture you might not learn on spring break. For example: how the locals cure their common cold. With cold and flu season upon us, we thought we’d share Chris’ knowledge with all of you sneezing and coughing in class today!
Whenever the snow starts falling outside, I inevitably come down with a winter cold. But just because you’re snuffling and stuffed up doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some delicious new flavors with that cure, thank you very much. The world is full of more interesting cures for the cold than chicken soup. Here are three drinks I’ve encountered in my travels that will not only make your sickbed a more sophisticated and worldly place, they’ll even make you feel better.
1. Korean Yujacha. As soon as I feel the first signs of a cold, I grab my jar of yujacha, or Korean honey citrontea, and start self-medicating. Not only does yujacha soothe a sore throat and deliver ahuge dose of Vitamin C, it also tastes delicious. Yujacha isn’t really a tea, per se. It’s more like a jam made of honey and preserved lemon, which you spoon into boiling water. I’ve encountered skeptical faces every time I’ve approached a sniffling friend with a steaming cup, but they’ve always been pleasantly surprised by the sweet, citrusy taste and the quick relief from cold symptoms. Trust me on this one. Once you try yujacha, you’re not going back. You can find yujacha in any Asian grocery store and many conventional supermarkets keep it stocked in the Asian foods aisle.
2. Rakomelo. Who says having a cold means you can’t have a good time? The Greeks may not know how to balance a budget (too soon?), but they definitely know how to live right. Rakomelo is not only one of my favorite cocktails of all time, it’s also a great cure for a cold. Rakomelo is made from Greek moonshine, raki, heated with honey, cinnamon and cloves. The honey takes care of your throat, the raki numbs any pain and the cinnamon and cloves…just taste great. Rakomelo is how villagers on Crete have been dealing with winter since the days of Odysseus. Raki can be purchased online or at a liquor store and you can make a batchof your own rakomelo by heating 4 shots of raki with 3 tablespoons of honey, a single clove and a cinnamon stick for about 3 minutes in a small pot. Make sure to serve warm.
3. West African Ginger Juice. Just about everybody agrees that ginger can help make you feel better. It’s used in herbal cures everywhere from down South to the Far East, but my personal favorite is the intensely flavored ginger juice that’s sold at roadside stands all over West Africa. One cup will bring a tear to your eye, but also soothe an upset stomach, coat a sore throat and put your immune system into overdrive. Also, if you choose to believe the man who sold me my first cup, it doubles as a powerful aphrodisiac. What’s not to like? You can find a good recipe here.
—Chris Duffy for Small Kitchen College