Informant: Every time my brother or I would get sick, our mother would boil kumquat with sugar. She would make like a soup out of it and make us drink it. According to her, it was really good for our throats and could cure our flu.
Collector: Has she been doing this since you were a baby?
Informant: Yes. She learned it from her mother and has always claimed that it is the perfect remedy for a soar throat or runny nose.
Collector: And does it work?
Informant: Yeah. I always feel better after taking it. It’s just very soothing. So I don’t know how much medical validity it has but I always feel better after having taken it.
Collector: Do you still use this recipe even though you don’t live at home.
Informant: Always. Every time I feel sick with the flu I make it for myself. I even make it for my friends when they’re sick.
I think folk medicine is extremely interesting because it gets passed down from parents to children. I do think that there are medicinal properties to the ingredients being used, but I think the main thing about home remedies are the comfort they provide. It is such comfort which I believe make people feel better; the home remedy may in fact be useless, but the comfort is brings provides a certain relief. I think this is the case with this informant. She claims that her mother has been making it for her and her brother ever since they were babies. Therefore, it would make sense that the recipe is a source of comfort that instantly makes her feel connected to home and, thus, physically better.
The kumquat plant is native to south Asia and the Asian-Pacific coast. Hence, it makes sense that this would be the main ingredient used in a Taiwanese household. This demonstrates how the region and location of a society is extremely important in defining folklore, especially when it comes to folk medicine which relies heavily on regional vegetation. Kumquats have a lot of antioxidants, vitamin B, and mineral such as calcium and potassium. Therefore, it can be argued that this folk medicine contains a certain degree of validity due to the natural properties of the main ingredient.
I love hearing about home remedies and I’m very curious to try this out. The informant sounded confident in the healing powers of kumquats and it’s very interesting to see how the recipe has been maintained by her through her college years.