A funny thing happened while I was working on my manuscript of erotic vegan recipes. My mother died. Okay, it wasn’t funny. It wasn’t unexpected (stage 4 lung cancer). And it definitely wasn’t erotic. So I’ve been drinking.
No, not that kind of drinking. I’ve been downing pots of hot turmeric lemonade. An elixir of ginger, turmeric and lemon, it’s what I concoct to sooth and cure respiratory woes, colds, viruses. . . and sinking spells.
There’s some science behind it. Recent studies have linked red-gold turmeric, ginger’s sister rhizome, to treating, slowing, even preventing cancer. I just know for me, it’s the ticket when I need a little bucking up.
Turmeric has a slightly funky fragrance, an earthy flavor and a grounding effect. The name comes from ancient French — terre merité— merited earth. I fling golden turmeric powder extravagantly into the curries, tagines and Mexican dishes I love, but when needs call for turmeric lemonade, I prefer fresh. I’m fortunate to live in a subtropical climate where turmeric and ginger grow. I even have some growing in my back yard. Turmeric’s root is smaller than ginger and knobbly, sometimes alarmingly so. Sliced thin, its flavor is more subtle and its power to heal and nourish is greater than the powdered stuff. Plus I run less of a risk of staining my clothes with it.
Turmeric lemonade tastes astringent and bracing, maybe even a little medicinal to the uninitiated. This doesn’t sound at all nice. At times like these, though, I absolutely crave it. It’s not magic. It won’t cure grief — at least it hasn’t cured mine. If you’ve found something that has, I wish you’d share it with me. Meanwhile, drinking turmeric lemonade passes the time and like the Jewish joke about chicken soup, it couldn’t hurt.