Saturday, 13 August 2011

Miracle my *bleep*


I used to hate ginger. Hate it with a vengeance. There was something about the sickly sweet smell of it that made me queasy if I got just a whiff of it. Let alone a taste. The trouble was that in a family with part Indonesian roots (that would be mum’s side, dad’s side are cloggies through and through), ginger was revered as the Miracle Root.
I’m telling you, the only thing ginger was NOT credited with, was bringing back the dead. But if some poor unfortunate soul happened to die, certain relatives would be sure to mutter that if only auntie so-and-so would have remembered to take her ginger, she’d still be doing somersaults. Alright, maybe they didn’t say somersaults, but you get the general idea.


My grandmother was a particular champion of the ginger movement. I must have been about 11 when I became her primary target. My offense was that I had oily skin. This was not be tolerated of course. My grandmother sure wasn’t going to stand for it.
Fortunately, the cure was at hand. A hot ginger drink called Jahe Wangi would surely soon fix me. Gran would have loved the word detox. For others that is.


One day mum and I came home to find that gran had let herself in. She was sitting by the kitchen table with a cup of tea and the remains of dad's favourite biscuits*. I had a horrible sense of foreboding as I spotted the carton she had placed on the kitchen counter.

Before mum got a word in edge-wise, gran delivered her little speech, speaking in Capital Letters (something she was particularly good at - and should be for all the practice she'd had with it). It started something like 'Any Good Mother Would Want The Best For Her Children'. Bottom-line was that I should be made to drink the vile concoction at least twice a day, and my offending complexion was sure to clear right up. I'm sure gran threw in a couple of For Her Own Goods as well. I don't think I ever felt such a leper.

With her task completed, gran got up with an air of 'job well done' and made for a triumphant exit, Battleship Bismarck** style. Leaving mum and I behind with the brightly coloured carton containing the supposed miracle drink. I think my face had a delicate green hue by that time.

There are times one can feel so appreciative of one’s parents. It took mum 3 seconds or less to chuck the Jahe Wangi into the bin. 

I've since come to somewhat appreciate ginger - in moderation - and I do even use it in certain dishes myself. I eat things like gingerbread. I almost believed I'd gotten over the intense dislike of the stuff I had in my childhood. So when I spotted a familiar looking carton in my local oriental grocery store, I thought I might see if my tastes had really changed.

They have not. The second I had poured hot water over the grains and the pungent scent rose to my nostrils, I felt my dinner coming up. I had to stand on my terrace for a couple of minutes to get some fresh air. I then went back inside with one hand clasped over my nose and quickly poured the drink down the drain. After which I poured some washing detergent after it. To get rid of the smell.

Any ginger lover is welcome to collect a barely touched carton of ginger tea.


* Dad had the locks changed not too long after that. No really. We take our food seriously you know.

** One of dad's friendlier names for his darling mother in law. 

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