Tannaz’s Mom’s Cold Remedy
When we’re sick, we’ll try anything: ancient remedies, hipster adaptations of ancient remedies, and detoxing the yuckies out of our systems. But sometimes, you need the best combination of tradition, creativity, and comfort: You need mom. Tannaz Sassooni, our Iranian-Jewish-American Mash-Up, may not be able to provide her mom for you when you get sick, but she has generously offered to share her mom’s healing foods.
When someone has a cold in Violet Sassooni’s house, she springs into action. Here are all the steps to healing, my-mom-style.
First, gargle with salt water. This is crucial; repeat frequently. Second, rub sticky, stinky Vicks Vaporub on your upper lip and chest. Set up a humidifier in the bedroom, and if you’re going to go full Violet, throw in a stalk of eucalyptus leaves from the backyard.
In my mother’s house, having a cold means that she will freshly squeeze you a glass of thick, pulpy orange juice. If they are available, she’ll add in the juice of a limoo shirin – a Persian sweet lemon, delicate in flavor and beautifully fragrant. You have to drink it fast – limoo shirin quickly turns bitter, as Violet will harriedly warn you. I’m lucky to have limoo shirin at my local farmer’s market, and usually I just forgo juicing and just eat one like an orange.
Next comes hot black tea with honey and milk. These days I skip the milk – apparently Violet didn’t get the memo that dairy makes you mucousy — but even without it, the warm sweet drink soothes your throat, and the tea gives your tired body a little caffeine boost. For a close approximation to Persian tea, blend Darjeeling with a bit of Earl Grey, and steep in off-the-boil water just until amber in color.
The breakfast portion of the my-mom remedy is a perfectly soft-boiled egg. For best results, serve with buttered toast to dip in the yolk, and a saltshaker close at hand to season each spoonful. In Persian, soft-boiled eggs are called asali – honey-like – and my mom’s are just that. Whites are solid but still jiggly, and yolk is perfectly golden, soft, and dippable.
One piece of the patented Sassooni family cold remedy does not come from my mother, but rather from my dad. Saeed Sassooni insists that to swiftly cure a cold, one must eat an entire boiled onion, and who are we to question Saeed?
Serve your egg, onion, and limoo shirin with hot black tea and honey, and perhaps you too will be left with a smooth, healthy, soreness-free throat. Violet would be so proud.
The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg
Make like honey.
A soft-boiled egg recipe is a personal thing: with so many variables – how hot your stove runs, how thick your pot is, and how big (which, of course affects the amount of water it takes to cover the egg), it takes a little experimenting, with your own equipment, to find your own perfect soft-boiled egg recipe. This is mine.
Place egg in a small pot and carefully add water to cover. Bring to a rolling boil, uncovered. Turn off heat, cover pot, and let egg sit for 2-1/2 minutes. Carefully remove egg from hot water with a slotted spoon. Serve with toast, butter, and salt.