The Everyday Lore Project

16 January 2020 – Cold Remedies

16 January 2020 – Cold Remedies

Woke up feeling miserable, all upper-palatey and brick-chested. So obviously I asked Twitter what I should do. Or rather I asked the brilliant #FolkloreThursday crowd what I should do. If you’ve never had the pleasure, #FolkloreThursday is what makes all the nonsense on Twitter worth it (especially when someone combines folklore with a cat gif). If you’ve ever checked out my resources at the end of each post, you’ll often see Chainey, D. referenced, and this is the marvellous Dee Dee Chainey, who along with the equally marvellous Willow Winsham started #FolkloreThursday a while ago. I once accosted Dee Dee in the toilets at a folklore conference and did possibly the worst fangirling I’ve ever done. Worse even than lying to Iain Glenn in an alleyway when I said the reason I was shaking was because of a triple espresso (and not because I’d had a crush on him for forever). Luckily, it seems I didn’t disgrace myself too much, and Dee Dee still talks to me (or at least doesn’t run away)…

Anyhow, I looked in some of my books and came up with three possible cold cures and set up a Twitter poll asking which one I should use, with the fourth option to tell me about personal remedies. Then #FolkloreThursday worked its magic. Here’s the tweet, you can read for yourselves what people came up with (there were so many, thank you!):

But if you don’t have time to read them all, here are some of the more interesting ones:

And here is what I eventually tried (naturally after creating a spreadsheet so I could cross reference all of them). The first was recommended by my partner in crime Jenifer Toksvig (and several others) – Hot Coca-Cola, ginger and lemon. Which sounds disgusting, and I’m not going to lie, did give me a bit of a stomach ache, but actually, boiling the coke turned it into a rather delicious honey flavour, so it was a bit more like a hot honey, ginger and lemon tea (which is what most people proposed in one form or another), and therefore quite soothing. The basic HGL combo had lots of variations suggested including adding one or more of the following: cayenne pepper, cloves, black pepper, salt, apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion juice, tomato juice, green tea, cinnamon, cardamon, and turmeric.

Coke and ginger boiling. And if you listen very closely you can hear the birds singing outside my kitchen, over the fizz of the coke,

Next up was Peter Lorimer’s Pete’s Hot Potato Pickle Salad, which I had for tea. Pete, a graphic designer, has very kindly supplied a poster of his creation:

(c) Peter Lorimer

To it, I added some of the other ingredients that came up frequently in the replies I thought would go well: sea salt, grated horseradish, fresh thyme, fresh chillies and hot sauce. It was yum, but I overdid it with the salad cream (I got a excited as I hadn’t had it for a long time) and there’s still a bit of a greasy aftertaste going on. But the pickle was a constant delight and the mustard and horseradish certainly made my nose flare. I’d definitely have this one again, and probably won’t wait until I have another cold either. 

Next was a kind of tincture from Lally, which on paper sounds rough, but actually tastes okay. Mind you, any more than a teaspoon at a time and I might think differently:
I wasn’t making it on the hob, it’s just where the best light in the kitchen is.

And finally, I couldn’t ignore the whole Hot Toddy Genre going on, with most people suggesting I drink it before bed. I’ve tried brandy and whiskey versions, but not rum ones, so I’m using the recipe suggested from one of my most favourite people (he’s gorgeous and beyond talented too), Matthew Xia, who suggested the Caribbean version – ginger, honey, turmeric, fresh hot water and rum. But as I’m not going to run the risk of getting drunk again and putting my head in the fridge like last time, here is a picture of it (I will be drinking it after I’ve posted, for safety). I used fresh turmeric and grated it along with the ginger and guessed the quantities. From the tiny sip I have had (quality control and all that), I think bed time will be deeply pleasant… Other rum toddy variations included adding lemon, lime, thyme and garlic. 

The floating bits are the turmeric and ginger as I didn’t bother straining it.

Despite all this sterling work, I’m still feeling coldy, but have enough leftover ingredients to get me through the next couple of days if needs be. Thank you to everyone who took part in trying to get me well again, as much as I would love to try all your remedies, I’m really hoping that this cold goes sharpish! However, keep your eyes peeled for COLDWATCH updates on future blogs and through the hashtag #EverydayLore. And don’t forget to look out for #FolkloreThursday, I promise your Thursdays will be much the happier for it!

Ps. If there are more typos than usual, it’s because I lied. I started drinking my rum toddy about half an hour ago. It is delish!


Bloom, P. (2016) Old Wives’ Lore; A Book of Old-Fashioned Tips & Remedies, London, Michael O’Mara Books Limited

Culpeper (1995) Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, Ware, Wordsworth Editions Ltd

Nozeday, A. (2012) The Hedgerow Handbook, Recipes, Remedies and Rituals, London, Square Peg

Vickery, R. (2019) Vickery’s Folk Flora, An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Folklore Thursday website

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.