Daily Archives: January 17, 2012

Old Wives Tale (and some cure..)


A few nights ago, my mum and sister together with our house helper were sitting around the dining table, talking about nothing in particular right after dinner when the topic of food came up (we talk about food right after having some, we just love our food that much).

Mum was telling us about some lady she knows whose husband is obsessed with eating chicken’s butt. Yeap, you read that right. Chicken’s butt. Apparently he loves it so much, he buys it by the kilogram and even gets his young kids hooked onto it too. I’m right with you if you’re thinking “what? they sell chicken’s butt by the kilogram??”

So this story eventually lead to her recalling some of her late grandmother’s advice. And I can never be too sure if this is just a characteristic of the old-world, traditional Malay culture but it is said if a person consumes chicken’s butts (I mean really, what happened to the rest of the chicken that normal people usually eats??), they will become forgetful people. I’d like to think of it more of, you can’t get over the fact that you’ve just consumed a part of the chicken where poop comes out from, that all other short-term memory you have becomes irrelevant as you ponder upon your recent culinary decision.

All together now! My hump, my hump, my hump

Chicken’s butts aside, I do have to admit there are some quite good, tried-and-tested traditional cure that I sometimes find are a better, drug free way of attending to one’s ailments and minor illnesses. When I was younger, I was one of those sickly kid that was always prone to catching someone else’s bad germs. So, out of the 365 days in a year, I would probably spend 1/3 of that time either down with fever, bronchitis, cough, flu or something of those variations. I was in and out of the hospital, and eventually made good friends with this tall, towering cylindrical oxygen vessel that will be known as the ‘nebulizer’.

One of our Indonesian house helpers at that time, figured that she should take matters of my health into her own hands and save me from the drug-saturated approach I have been put through up until then. Off she went and bought some fresh turmeric (curcuma longa), skinned it, and started pounding away with the pestle and mortar we had in the kitchen. And before I knew it, I was presented with half a glass of brilliant, saffron colored liquid that smells absolutely horrendous to my 5 year old nose.

I am not sure if these days, the very act of forcing a child to drink up her herbal medicine which would almost immediately result in violent convulsions of regurgitation to expel all that phlegm (ok, fine I may be exaggerating just a little bit) can be considered as abusive. But I use to dread those times, and its surprising that I haven’t been traumatized completely off herbal medicine from that experience.

These days I much rather prefer to describe that smell of freshly pounded turmeric juice as ‘earthy’. I add a teaspoon of honey into the concoction, and I am not so crazy as to pound away a half glass worth of turmeric. Fresh turmeric always produces a lighter, more pleasant tasting medicine than does its powdered counterpart. But either way, a couple of tablespoon of this mixture is normally enough to stop my coughing spasm. One bonus that I have discovered by accident recently is that, turmeric + honey work wonders for deep uninterrupted sleep. You’ll wake up the next day, fresh and you won’t even remember the horrid turmeric taste that you’ve subjected yourself to the night before.

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