coughy and tea

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Oregano courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Must have been all the excitement yesterday.  Woke up this morning unable to speak with painful, swollen breathing bits, felled by the upper respiratory virus that’s been making its rounds on campus and sniffing around my feet for the past few days.  Very, very, very bad timing (which seems to be the theme of 2013).  I’m usually uncommonly healthy, and any respiratory illnesses are particularly mild.  In fact, I can’t think of the last time I had a serious cold.  Maybe 10 years ago?  My body is usually polite enough to have the decency to wait until I am not otherwise occupied with classes or travel.  But lately, it has not been interested in the comedy of manners I call my life.

And as in uffish thought I stood, or rather lay there in my bed, my savior in the form of my cleaning lady, Mercedes, knocked on the door.  Mercedes has been helping me since I hurt my knee in the summer, but I was never as thankful as I was this morning.  She brewed me up some of her home remedy for cough and various flu symptoms, a strange but oddly comforting herbal, sweet, and savory tea made from oregano, alliums, and spices.  It seems to be one of many interesting variants of Mexican cough remedies.  Mercedes is a great cook and precise, too, so I present her version to you herewith, as I suspect you might need it as much as I do.

Also, for good measure, I’ve included my recipe for anti-nausea tea, just about the only thing that helps me when the tsunami hit my shores, and a recipe to keep the wolf from coughing at your door. I’m going back to bed.

Cough Tea

  • 5 cups water
  • ¼ medium yellow onion, skin on
  • 5 small garlic cloves, skin on
  • handful of fresh oregano (about two dozen sprigs)*
  • honey to taste (start with a tablespoon)
  • juice of one lemon

Boil down the water, onion, garlic, and oregano to a cup and a half of tea.  Season to taste with honey and the freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Drink 2-3 cups a day until symptoms subside.

*My guess is that Mercedes grows Mexican oregano instead of the Greek stuff I have in my garden, but it worked in a pinch.

Nausea Tea

  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 small fresh ginger root
  • honey to taste (optional)

Chop up ginger root coarsely and mash a bit with the back of your knife or a spoon.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Add honey to taste.  I omit honey because I like the medicinal flavor of the ginger.  Drink with a soda cracker back, if you can.

When I have the flu, I will keep replenishing this brew with the old ginger in the pot for days.  I also pour some into a mason jar and keep it chilled for feverish moments. One large cup will almost immediately quell nausea, but the effect may be short lived.

Tea for Two

Starts around 4:45, but you really want to listen and watch the entire thing.  Absolutely perfection.  Makes one almost want to drag one’s phlegmy, unwashed body into the kitchen to bake a sugar cake.  Can’t you see how happy we can be-ee-ee-ee!

culinaria eugenius in victoria: two teas

I’m at a literature conference in Victoria, B. C., experiencing the fruits of colonialism.  No, that’s not me and my friends.  It’s an old tea mechanical puppet box from Murchie’s.  But I’m in a lovely old hotel and a town that has been properly British Empired. Irish woolen stores, tea shops, Scottish bars, Indian curry buffets. If it’s colonial, they’ve got it.

I thought I’d give you an image of the real life of a professor drinking tea in Victoria.

Is this the tea she drinks? Out of a samovar? In a porcelain cup? Reclining on pillows and draped in chintz, soft classical music playing as she chooses a single delicacy from a silver platter?

It is not. She drinks a nice assam out of an Ikea mug with a plump currant scone with cream and jam, though, while she grades papers on a break from conferencing. Perfectly happy with plastic cups, paper napkin, stainless steel tray, $4.25.  Because she can’t afford an afternoon tea that costs $60. Egads.

And that is the life of a professor drinking tea in Victoria, B.C.