Saturday, 16 August 2014

Mom's Asian Remedies


The consequences of having an Asian mother are plenty but not always pleasant. You might have to bear her Tiger Mother tenancies or force down Foo-Cha when you're ill. But for every time your mom gives you a good smack down with the Gie-Mo-So, you know you're lucky enough to have her in your corner when the going gets tough and she's the first to give you those haw flake wafer rounds (Saang-Ja-Baeng) to make that nasty soup go down a bit better. 

My own mother is halfway between old school and new school. She upholds a traditional sense of familial duty but will let me run off with David every time I'm in town (after visiting both grandmas first of course). She still turns to old Chinese remedies to get rid of that sup-yeet or yeet-hay feeling (a concept that has no English equivalent) and has an arsenal of Chinese soups that is only rivalled by my grandmother. 

Though I sometimes think she needs to get with the times, I have adopted some of her Asian ways and product choices. When I'm sick, I'll grab the Aspirin or the Tylenol but I will ALWAYS always turn towards a small handful of who-knows-how-they-actually work Asian products, one of which is the Mentholatum balm.


This magic cure-all is great for nausea, stomach aches and headaches. It's suppose to be good for insect bites too and in general works as a topical analgesic. The sharp minty scent drives away queasiness and I keep a version of it at my desk, in my bathroom and by my bedside. Whether you get Tiger Balm, ping-on-go, or Bak-Fa-Yuw (white flower oil?) this shit works and I don't question its magic powers. 

Along this vein, I started thinking about other Chinese/Asia remedies. Perhaps an Asia-centric experience (or maybe not) but did you ever use that red ointment on cuts as a child? Or go to the Chinese apothecary to order up packets of herbs to make blackened bitter soup for medicine? How about the dark syrupy minty Pey-Pa-Go or Pey-Pa-Low for coughs? I still buy that stuff though I wonder how something so sugary could actually be good for you. 

And, to diversify from my ethnocentricity, tell me about the remedies you've kept from your "homelands"? Anything passed down from grandmas or wives-tales makes for perfect examples. 

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