The informant is a 20-year-old friend from Los Angeles, CA whose family is Afghani. He volunteered this remedy during a discussion about cold remedies with a few of our friends.
Note: The initials JJ denote the informant, while A refers to me, the interviewer.
JJ: In my family, we use ginger and dough for sore throats and colds.
A: Dough? Like bread, dough?
JJ: Yeah. Sweet dough. You mix it, and then you turn it into a ball–ok, first, you add some sugar, flour, water…so you have your dough, and then you wrap it around a piece of ginger, and then you cook it.
A: In the oven?
J: No, in a pan. Just until it’s hot and crispy. And then, when you eat it, that’s supposed to help with your sore throat. I think it’s the ginger that does the actual, like, healing.
A: So what’s the point of the dough?
J: I don’t know. I don’t think it actually does anything. It’s like, just to make a…like, a container for the ginger. Because we didn’t want to eat straight-up ginger, so it was to make it taste better.
Ginger is used in a lot of cultures for cold remedies; my mother makes ginger tea with honey for my sister and I when we are sick, so hearing ginger cited in another cold remedy didn’t surprise me. What I did find interesting was the dough; my friend included the dough as PART of the cold remedy, but also admitted that it actually served no purpose. Ginger was what was actually used to “cure” the cold, but the dough had always been included as part of the remedy when it was given to him. It reminded me of the many ways that parents try to make unpleasant things more pleasant for their children, not only in terms of medicine but also in general–for example, my mother used to put sugar at the bottom of my cups of milk to get me to drink them, and I know that some parents sing songs to their children to distract them when disinfecting scrapes and minor wounds.