Got the gripe? So do we. Inspired by throbbing throats, high fevers, and our fashionable wool socks, we thought it was high time to experiment with international treatments. Tea with honey and lemon is universally obvious, but what do you do when you can’t stomach another sip of chamomile or Earl Grey?
Atlas has some tips for the flu season that will make you feel better – not all of them are quick and easy, but hey, what do you have to lose? (Ok, maybe consult your doctor if you’re pregnant or have heart murmurs . . . or diabetes or cancer. But, again – what do you have to lose?)
Portuguese Xarope de Cenoura (carrot syrup) and Canja de Galinha (chicken soup)
The Syrup: Shave a couple of carrots into fine bits and mix with brown sugar (or honey – though reportedly not as good) and a couple of drops of water just to melt the sugar. Add a squeeze of lemon and stir. They say that you should have two tablespoons of this concoction daily, but if it turns out to be good, why not have a few more? Moderation is for pansies.
Variation: Some people do the carrot syrup recipe with onion. When asked for comment, our Portuguese contact simply said “Yuck.”
The Soup: In a pot, add rice, an onion cut in half, some water, and a chicken with all the miúdos (gross stuff people usually throw away like the heart, liver, and feet – or, as Atlas likes to call it, the “caviar” of the chicken). When it comes to a boil, throw in some fresh hortelã (mint). Before you eat, you are supposed to take out the onion and, of course, the chicken feet – but you’re sick, so it’s your party. É canja.
United States’ Poor Man’s Chicken Soup / Grilled Cheese / Whiskey Combo
To drink: Whiskey (with an “–ey,” which means it’s A’merken, dammit!) Neat. Screw the hot toddy.
For the soup: Use a chicken bouillon to create or “cheat” the base. Add a few chopped carrots, some celery (if you can find it), and some noodles. Add some chopped ham or bacon and bring to a simmer. You can basically put anything in there – the bouillon is the key element.
Pair with Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Butter the hell out of two pieces of bread, add a layer of mayo, and make a cheese sandwich. If you must, you can add tomato slices, but this will only give you away as a non-American (this, and your choice of cheese). Americans usually use cheddar, but in the end, it doesn’t matter – we also like to put bacon in there (where DON’T we like to put bacon?). It’s all about the frying of the sandwich and the buttery goodness. If you don’t need to use two napkins, you’ve done it all wrong.
The Russian “Treetment” (sweet or spicy)
This is the classic concoction babushkas from here to the Urals still make for unlucky kids. Heat some milk over a low flame and add a spoonful of butter; stir until melted. Add an egg in there to get to a Gogol Mogol, or honey if you’re less kosher. If you like it spicy for those cold Siberian nights, add some chili powder, red pepper flakes if you have them, and/or a dash of Tabasco (you WILL sweat, like a swine). Can’t stand the heat? Add a dash of cinnamon instead for a sweeter option. Either way, drink immediately, otherwise the last sips get gloopy.
Pair with: Some cloves of raw garlic. Eat as many as you can stomach and then eat one more. Chase with a slice of a clementine to kill the flavor. No one will want to kiss you, but they
probably shouldn’t anyway. And: Vodka. Try a dash of Tabasco in there – seriously! Or if you plan to be in bed for a while anyway, infuse a fresh red chili in there for 2-3 days. Phew. If
you want to go REALLY Russian (not recommended if you don’t regularly walk barefoot in snow while quoting Chekhov): put on a pair of wet socks, and a pair of dry wool socks on top, and climb in bed. Good luck.
Vietnamese Pho (The easy way – you’re sick, after all)
Traditionally, the broth needed for Pho is an art form in itself, but there’s an easy way out: beef bouillon. Boil 3-4 cups of water with one of these cubes and add some carrot, onion, ginger, garlic, honey, and fish sauce – that should be enough to get you started. You’ll need a lot of spices for this soup: 4 cloves, 1 or 2 star anise, a cinnamon stick, some cardamom, and some coriander. Simmer until it smells good (if you can smell, that is).
Make some rice noodles (just boil ’em) and put them in a bowl with raw thinly sliced meat. Put the hot broth in the bowl to cook the meat and throw fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, basil – or all of the above – on top. Bean sprouts are awesome in there too if you have them (put them in last – you don’t want them to cook). Spice up to your level of sweet or spicy with hoisin sauce and/or Sriracha (piri-piri) and – boom. Bye bye sniffles, hello pseudo-pho.
If you want to try the hard way (it’s worth it, I swear), check out this recipe
Northern European Mulled Wine
This concept is very simple: take wine, heat and season it with various spices and drink it until you fall asleep. The origin of mulled (or spiced and heated) wine is debatable, though most experts (how can I become one of those?) say that it comes from medieval Europe, where wine was a staple. Nothing has changed in that respect, so it’s our duty to keep the tradition going. Atlas’ favorite recipe involves the peel of a clementine (or orange), ½ a lemon, ½ a lime, 2 packets of sugar, 3 cloves, 1 stick of cinnamon, a bay leaf, 1 grated nutmeg, 1 star anise, and 1 vanilla pod. It might sound like a lot, but heated for 5 minutes with 1 bottle of red (cheap or otherwise) you won’t think to complain. You won’t be doing much thinking of any kind, actually.
India’s Spiced Spoon-full (proceed with caution)
Our Indian source says her grandmother used to make her take this when she had a cold. She then reminded me how thankful she was that she no longer lives in India.
Option 1: Combine 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, black pepper, ginger powder, and cardamom with 4 teaspoons sugar, and grind to make a fine powder. Take half a teaspoon 2 times a day with water after meals.
Option 2: Combine powdered ginger, basil, cinnamon, licorice, black pepper, and cloves. Grind together and let sit in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. If you can stand the smell, drink it.
If you survive either of these, let us know.