Nothing like a cold……

There is nothing like a cold….

(COVID-free, that is) to bring out all the self-pity that has been suppressed from those many other occasions, and bursts out into one gigantic, languished. miserable,  justifiable lament.   Head stuffed with cotton, eyes watering, disturbing sweats, all joints aching in sync, and a brief wafting window of clear breath to tantalise you into thinking you’re getting well.  Your nose is as sore as if it’s been wiped with wood, which, of course it has–those tissues are wood. Friends are always sympathetic…..from a distance. 

In this fuggy state, I started hearing the world-wide voices of friends telling me what they did about colds.

A Moroccan student stopped me in the hall one day to commiserate.  After translating her english into English I gathered that she swears by grated turmeric in warm milk, a concoction that’s not only a cold remedy, but great for everything else including hang nails (well, not quite). 

While in India I saw a man struggling to keep working with head and shoulders wrapped up warmly on a hot day…to sweat out the disease?

My Persian friend says that there are certain vegetables you don’t eat during a cold because they are “cold” vegs. In this case cold or warm doesn’t have to do with temperature, but of food classifications deeply rooted in thousands of years of Persian culture, probably as old as their 6000 year old cuisine.  The “cold” food classification is something to be avoided when one has a cold.  Cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, cow meat, and a whole list of other foods are deemed cold.

The Chinese quietly get on with the natural echinacea that they’ve used for centuries.

First Nation Americans (the ones we haven’t already killed with the common cold) use white willow bark or powdered dried elk meat, fat and blueberries.

“Sure-fire gifts” to the world:  Chicken Soup (America) and Lem-sip (Britain). 

Cinnamon, ginger, lemon, garlic, cayenne, vitamin D or C, common thyme, whiskey and water, mint, blueberries, mallow, dandelion leaves, wild ginseng, elderberry, all have been noted as cure-alls for colds.  Anything else?

Medicines never promise to cure a cold but to relieve its symptoms.  All our concoctions and rituals aren’t fooling anyone, are they!  There is no cure.  We might just as well veg out on Netflix, drink water, and wait for Mother Nature to declare the condition “Hurrah — finished!”.  Still, we often remain loyal to our chosen remedies – sources of cuddle and comfort for the violent Self-Pity attacks that ravage our weakened bodies.  Long may they continue!

Bessara — Dried Bean Soup

It seems that the most helpful ingredient in soothing bad colds is something hot and liquid, so I thought this Moroccan recipe might work for all you cold sufferers.  I wanted to try it, not for the soup itself, but because of its unusual garnish.  [If you have a cold, you probably won’t taste the soup anyway…you might as well be sipping dish water, but the topping may help.]  This is from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes (2007) page 179.  Half a recipe makes 2 ½ cupfuls.

Ingredients. 500g dried shelled split broad beans, soaked overnight.  6 garlic cloves, peeled, salt and freshly ground pepper.  To serve: olive oil, fresh ground cumin, hot paprika, lemon wedges

Drain and rinse soaked broad beans (I used butter beans), and slip the skins off.  Put them in a pan with 2.5 litres water.  Bring to boil over medium heat, skimming off foam.  Add the garlic, lower the heat, part-cover and leave to cook for an hour until beans are soft and starting to disintegrate.  Season with 2 teaspoons salt, remove from heat.  Cool slightly. 

Blend the mixture until smooth and creamy.  Put back in a clean pan, adjust seasoning and re-heat gently.  Add more water if too thick. 

Ladle into warmed soup bowls.  Drizzle with generous amounts of olive oil, then sprinkle with plenty of ground cumin.  Serve with paprika for sprinkling, and lemon wedges.  Eat with wholemeal bread

Verdict:  Filling! The garnish might happily be used on any bean soup. The lemon was a pleasant addition.  Brown bread a delightful accompaniment.  Have a go.  What do you think? 

Warning:  I find to my surprise, that dried beans and lentils have a shelf life.  You cannot keep them for seven years and expect them to behave.  Check the “best before” dates, even on a dried bean!


  1. I find Lemsip does relieve the cold symptoms. Even better is the true panacea, TEA.
    If I have a cold, I’m not going to try a recipe that takes all night and half the next day.


    1. yep. You’ve got a point there, Ian. Perhaps I should have put in an easy easy easy quick quick quick recipe that one could make through swollen slitted eyes. Next time! Thanks for the comment.


  2. Comments from email: more cold remedy ideas, thanks!
    My partner’s father was convinced that eating a raw onion (peeled and eaten like an apple and dredged in salt) every day kept colds and flu at bay. And he NEVER suffered from either!
    And my ex father-in-law would throw open all the windows whenever anyone had the slightest sniffle, insisting that it was the best cure for any cold or bug. Me? I’ll settle for a nice warming bowl of your soup, homemade lemon and ginger tea (with an additional tot of brandy) and a nice warm duvet, thank you. Much more civilized!


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