On Being a Ginger Groupie

Our diarist Hec’s friend Vyt, who has a Bali blog and contributes The Vyt Line to The Bali Times, is “off island” at present. He’ll be back soon, but in the meantime Hec has very kindly agreed to fill the breach.

HEC was reading something recently – he thinks it was a promotional e-flier from some purveyor of sanitised tap water gizmos – that prompted him to muse about the benefits of ginger.

It has an ancient history. The first ginger group was probably formed shortly after Urk began proto-voicing dark proto-thoughts about that awful Irk over in the neighbouring tract of hunter-gatherer forest that he coveted and drove his pals to drink with his whingeing.

But Hec digresses (he does that). The important thing is that ginger has long been used as a culinary and medicinal herb. Hec notes, of his former domicile (that big island to our south), that like much else of modern benefit, it arrived in Australia with the First Fleet or shortly thereafter. Of course, it’s also a major component of cuisine in Bali, yet another good reason for shifting The Cage to the Island of the Gods.

Ginger gets a gong from that renowned creator of aphorisms, Confucius, who was around more than half a millennium before there was any reason for Christmas and absolutely yonks before gingerbread men made an appearance on the festive table; and in the Koran.

In medieval Europe, where chaps were not quite as bright as they believed themselves to be (has anything changed?), they thought it came from the Garden of Eden. Slightly later, Jamaicans and early American settlers made beer from it. It gave them something to hop into when the regular product had been drunk en route from the Old Dart.

Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have relied on ginger for at least 3000 years for its anti-inflammatory properties and both use it as a “carrier” herb, one that helps other herbs to be more effective in the body.

As an inveterate observer of human amusements, Hec was also interested to read of a study in the British medical journal The Lancet – you can get a laugh almost anywhere these days – that involved 36 people highly susceptible to motion sickness. Honestly, some people will do anything for a cup of tea and a lie-down.

Apparently the researchers had the subjects take either two capsules of powdered ginger, an anti-nausea medication or a placebo and then, 20 minutes later, spin on a motorised chair for up to six minutes. Taking ginger delayed the onset of sickness about twice as long as taking the medication. The study also found that half the subjects who took ginger lasted the full six minutes, compared with none of those given the placebo or the medication.

When not being used in nauseous medical experiments, ginger is very popular in stir-fry cooking as well as baked treats such as ginger cake, ginger biscuits, ginger chocolates (yum!) and in drinks like ginger ale.

One of Hec’s personal favourite pick-me-ups is carrot and ginger juice. And Mrs Hec swears by ginger tea.

Hector blogs at http://wotthehec.blogspot.com

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