Grandpa knows best
After three days of stomach woes, and with the wondrous Western remedy of Cipro slow in acting, I turned to Abu Mousa. He led me to the kitchen this morning and opened two jars of herbs. (One jar was once honey, the other once tomato paste. In Syria, you don’t buy herbs in the grocery store in neatly labeled jars. You go to the seed souq -- Souq al-Bizereeyeh -- and buy by the gram from large sacks, or harvest them from the fields or the mountains.)
This one, he said, is good for your stomach. It’s sweet. This one, he said, is better. It’s morr -- bitter. You know, morr? Yes, I know morr. Here, smell. First, he held the sweet to my face, then the bitter. It’s best to put both in the tea kettle, he said. Just one cup. He sprinkled into the water some of the sweet -- anise, in Arabic, yansoon -- and the bitter, shreeh, a Syrian mountain herb, which I have yet to translate.
Abu Mousa left and I set the kettle to boil. I filled my cup with the elixir and retired to my room. The bitter won out. It wasn’t tasty, but I finished it in time, and, not much later, my stomach stopped its shifting and gurgling. And my appetite slowly returned. I ate a banana, made some chicken broth, ate some chips. Basil, Abu Mousa’s grandson, grilled chicken and I ate some of that. I finally feel as if I’m on the mend.