“Eat This, It’ll Make You Feel Better”
Comedian and self-proclaimed foodie Dom DeLuise wrote: “When I was a kid, if I had a fever, had a cold, had a fight, had a fall, had a cut, was depressed, had a disappointment, fell off a truck, woke up with a headache . . . no matter what the situation, my mother’s solution was always, ‘Eat this, it’ll make you feel better.’ ”
The Magic of Comfort Food
My mother was a lot like Dom’s. I recall warm milk was thought to have a soothing influence and especially good at bedtime. Even better if accompanied by a cookie.
And, tea . . . oh, my, don’t get me started on that one! My grandmother drank hot tea made from Lipton bags. She drank it throughout the day, all year round. I often said she was a ‘tea-totaller”—her only beverage being hot tea—never cold. Apparently, it did her no harm; she lived to be 93 without engaging in any exercise more strenuous than walking.
According to Granny you could “trick warts off” by rubbing a potato slice on the skin growths and then planting the potato and never returning to the spot. I can’t knock this one. It worked for me, plus we had a fine potato plant that year. This was before we knew the efficacy of duck tape—or had even invented it yet.
Fortunately, Granny had given up the asafetida bag, that she required my mother to wear each winter as a child. The bag of pungent herbs (garlic, poke weed, onion, mint, and the sap of the asafetida tree) were made into a paste and worn in a small, cloth bag around the neck to ward off disease.
The old folk remedy was endorsed by Pharmacopedia and available in drug stores as a remedy for the 1918 Spanish flu. Apparently, it was our ancestors version of “social distancing.” The wearer smelled so bad, no one would come close.
Sore Throats, Stomach Aches, and Weight Gain
Sore throats were complicated. Our family preferred a saltwater gargle. But occasionally my mother would pull out a bottle of bourbon, that she kept tucked away in a far shelf for such occasions. We were Baptist and recreational usage of intoxicants was frowned upon, but for medical purpose . . . . that was a dog of a different color. A tablespoon of cheap booze laced with sugar was administered like cough medicine. It was also an essential ingredient in her Christmas Bourbon Balls.
One of the home treatments for flu, or any ailment where you had an upset stomach and couldn’t keep anything down, was ginger ale and crackers. Apparently, they are easy for an ailing stomach to digest.
Then there was “Mama’s Milkshake.” When I brought home a “skinny card” from the school nurse, my mother sought to plump me up with a milk/raw egg concoction. In due time, nature took its course and I’ve never received such an accolade again.
Other Kitchen Cures
Another useful item in the kitchen was Arm and Hammer baking soda. Not only did it come in handy for cooking, cleaning, and insect bites, my father also used it in place of toothpaste. Though I’ve never had a direct encounter with a skunk, we were prepared with tomato juice to wash away the scent.
An aloe plant always sat on the window sill in my farm kitchen, when my kids were growing up. For minor burns, I’d just cut open a leaf and apply the liquid directly to the affected area. My friend, Tracy, told of her mother healing an earache by placing a cut onion on top the ear. A couple drops of onion juice in the affected ear also did the trick.
Chicken Soup to the Rescue
My mother was especially fond of the chicken soup treatment. Researchers now agree that the old cold and flu remedy, can bring relief to irritated nasal passages, sinuses and throat.
Fortifying Against COVID
Which brings me to the question: what are some good foods to eat during COVID times? Not surprising, nutritionists tell us to eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day. Drink more water.
And for snacks, choose raw vegetables and fresh fruit rather than foods that are high in sugar, fat or salt. Specifically, add more vegetables, lentils, beans, nuts and whole grains.
That might seem a little austere, but a lot better than taking hydroxychloroquine—or wearing an asafetida bag.
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