A few nights ago, I had friends over for dinner and one of them turned down a glass of wine. L felt a cold coming on. L wanted to keep her wits about her (L is in fact her name; I am not offering her anonymity or trying to be cute by shortening her name to a letter). I made her my cold remedy instead.
When I'm not feeling well—the sniffles, a cough—I brew a tea. A tea that leaves the drinker, usually me, with volatile breath. But it's worth it.
I know, some people like chicken soup and peppermint tea when they're feeling down, but I'm fond of the old cure-is-worse-than-the-symptoms stuff. The kind of stuff my grandmother used to make for me if she caught me sneezing.
Some of her concoctions were so concentrated and bitter, they triggered gag reflexes. These I had to allow to dissolve slowly on my tongue, in front of her. What was wrong with me again? I couldn't remember!
Others weren't as bad, but they were still bad. For a cough she mixed jaggery (a crumbly, caramel-colored, unrefined sugar) with grated ginger and garlic and I ate the mix from a spoon like cookie dough. For a cold, her mixture involved raw eggs and generous glugs of brandy. I basically slept off whatever was wrong with me and woke with a new symptom: a headache.
My cure-all is modified a little, for the sake of mild enjoyment. Like any cocktail, I taste it and adjust it each time. A little more lemon, or grapefruit if I've got it. A little more honey. I'll add more water if it's turned out too strong. But I don't overdo the balancing. I mean, this drink has raw garlic in it, you know? The point is to have your ass kicked a little.
Into a teapot: squeeze the juice of a lemon. Add a very big tablespoon of honey, a nub of grated ginger, a small clove of grated garlic, and a pinch of pimentón. Add a mugful of just-boiled water, stir well, let sit for a minute, then pour through a tea strainer to get rid of all the bits. Depending on the night, add a glug of brandy or whiskey.
Enjoy! Or, better yet, don't.