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Friday, September 12, 2014

Cures, Maybe?

Did you know? Eating five almonds before partying hard will guard against total inebriation and hangovers. Sounds pretty nifty, right? As scientific and medical research have progressed over the years, we  have come to dismiss such bold claims. Back in the 1400s and 1500s, however, people believed such professions, and they were held widely as fact. I've been exploring a book I found in the Mississippi Library Commission's collection called Folklore and Odysseys of Food and Medicinal Plants and having a wonderful time. Wouldn't it be delightful if some of the herbs and plants covered actually did what people thought they did, way back when?

  • Caraway seeds were the early Renaissance's precursor to Rogaine. Pop some of these babies, and hello luxurious head of hair a la Fabio. Nowadays, you'll find caraway seeds flavoring some Havarti cheeses and rye breads.
    Fabio, with a healthy mane
  • If caraway seeds were the Rogaine of the 15th century, then pepper was surely thought of as a wonder drug like penicillin. People thought pepper could cure toothaches and prevent the Bubonic Plague, among many other maladies and diseases. In modern times, many people like using it to flavor eggs. What an embarrassing descent.
    Would you like some eggs with your pepper?
  • If you use your imagination, nutmeg sort of looks like mini-brains. Naturally, people of the Renaissance used them to cure a variety of brain problems. And poor eyesight. I suppose because of the brain and eyes close proximity to each other, it's a semi-logical jump. I like to use nutmeg as a substitute for cinnamon because I have a slight cinnamon sensitivity. It's definitely tasty on French Toast! I don't think my eyesight is improving, though.
Nutmeg posing as brains

If you, too, have a penchant for the medicinal practices of yesteryear, stop by the Mississippi Library Commission and check out this book!

Lehner, Ernst and Johanna Lehner. Folklore and Odysseys of Food and Medicinal Plants. New York, New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1962. Print.

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