USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘folf medicine’
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Foodways
Material

The Miracle Paste

Original Script: “Okay so you were there when we heard this story from Sheliah…but I will say it again because GOD BLESS, that stuff has helped us. So, a while ago, Sheliah was doing this wedding—she is a makeup artist—and the bride had food poisoning on her wedding day! Food. Poisoning. That is probably the worst possible thing that could happen on her wedding day. It was from a Mexican restaurant at the rehearsal dinner the night before. Anyways, the bride was literally feeling so sick and Sheliah had tried EVERYTHING to get the bride to feel better. Even the vendors who were just for set up were trying to get the bride to feel better because she was going to call off her wedding! They tried bread, everything you could find in CVS to make food positioning subside, EVERYTHING. Sheliah was about to follow the bride down the aisle with a bucket! The bride was crying and Sheliah was trying to put on her false eyelashes while the bride kept throwing up. But, this one lady from production or another, came into the room with this weird purple paste called ‘Umeboshi Paste,’ basically like a Japanese plum puree, that you have to go to a world market to find. Anyways, she open the jar up, took out a spoon full and gave it to the bride, you could literally see the brides color in her face come back! It is literally a miracle paste! The ending of the story was sooooo funny though! Everyone started working double time to get the bride all set and ready. Sheliah walked into the room where the bride had her wedding dress and stopped in her tracks, she ran out of the room yelling, ‘YOU HAVE A FREAKING MONIQUE LHUILLIER!? IF I WOULD OF KNOWN THAT I WOULD OF KICKED YOUR BUTT TWO HOURS AGO!!’ Hahah, but ever since hearing that story, we, and every other wedding planner I know carry this miracle paste in their emergency kits. Just in case. You never know!”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Tiffany is an event coordinator and has been for a couple of years. She has ample experience in the event planning business and usually knows how to get out of the most complicated situations. However, She has never heard of a story where a planner was able to cure food poisoning during the wedding day (given that most brides do not risk having rehearsal dinners at unknown restaurants). Usually, when food poisoning occurs the bride is able to last the ceremony. Recently, the story Tiffany, and I, heard was a few months ago. Since then, she always carries this Umeboshi paste and knows many event planners that carry the paste as well. Just in case food poisoning occurs.

Context of the Performance: Wedding Day Food Poisoning

Thoughts about the piece: Given the fact that I work with Tiffany as well as heard the story myself, it is still an interesting and funny tale as well as a fascinating way to cure food poisoning. Hearing the story a second time was just as amusing as the first time I heard it. At first, Tiffany and I thought that Sheliah was making this story up—that it was a practical joke. Nonetheless, after she showed us a picture of the paste, and using it in a food poisoning case ourselves (but thankfully only once) it is as Tiffany had noted, a “miracle paste.”

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that CVS or western medicines—a “modern” medicine—could not cure the food poisoning of the bride but a paste from Japan was able to—and quickly as well. This shows that even though America prides itself on being a developed nation, there are still some barriers that are not broken. Moreover, the fact that this paste is now widely used with event planners to cure food poisoning, it has become a folk medicine; the folk being event planners and the medicine being the Umeboshi Paste. Even though, this paste was probably not meant to be a cure for food poisoning, event planners have innovated it to work as such.

Following up with Tiffany a month later, she said that she does not go to an event without it. Thus, this material object—which is now a folk medicine—can also be seen as a sacred object and/ or good luck charm just in case something was to go wrong during the event. This folk medicine demonstrates how even when modern medicine, that has coincidently been mostly derived from folk medicine, cannot cure a simple case of food poisoning, when a simple paste from Japan can. In which, this folk medicine surpasses westernized medicine.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Healing Coin

Form of Folklore:  Folk Belief (Medicine)

Informant Bio:  The informant was born and raised in Glendale, California.  Most of the folklore he has been exposed to comes primarily from his father, who is of Arabic decent.  Other folklore has been attained either through media sources (i.e. Reddit) or through personal life experiences in America.

Context:  The interview was conducted on the porch of another informant’s house in the presence of two other informants.

Item:    In Arabic culture, if you get a bump or a cyst or anything that creates a bump on your arm, one thing you can do is to get a large coin, put it on the bump and wrap up your wrist (or wherever the bump is) really tight.  And this makes the bump go away.

Informant Comments:  The informant’s father told his older brother to use this folk medicine to get rid of a bump he had on his wrist.  After a day or so, the bump did, in fact, go away.  The informant does not know if this folk medicine will always work, but based on what he has seen, it seems to work most of the time.  Either way, he believes trying this remedy could not hurt.

Analysis:  This folk belief (medicine) is common among Middle Eastern cultures.  The act of placing a coin on a bump or cyst and tying it tightly may be construed as having an implied focus on the power of the coin to heal (possibly by some sort of magical aspect).  On the contrary, the coin is of little essential importance; any flat hard object would suffice.  It is, in fact, the constant pressure which helps the bump or cyst disappear.  Not always, but most of the time, cysts will pop and bumps will become less inflated when pressure is applied to them.  It seems that people had realized the correlation between placing pressure on a bump and having that bump go away; thus, they came to the plausible conclusion that they should place a large coin on the bump before tying it in order to increase pressure even more.  This folk medicine is rooted in this rational progression.  Whether it always works or not, it is a method of healing developed through logical thought and passed on from generation to generation.

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