So I’ve been typing out this random pile of recipes for my mom for the last little while, and I’ve come across two that need to be shared if only for their What. The. Hell. quotient. They are both written on a scrap of yellowed lined paper and I recognize my Nana’s totally obvious all-caps printing so the “mum’s” that is referred to below is my great-grandmother, for whom I have been bestowed a middle name. Anyway, I had a HUGE laugh researching these ingredients and thought I’d share.
Disclaimer: Don’t make these and if you do, its your own fault if you get sick or die. I present them for humor’s sake only, yadda yadda yadda.
Recipe # 1:
Titled Canadian Lemon Syrop (sic) Cordial, this one is obviously “Canadian” because its made from special Canadian ingredients, of course. My guess is that Nana was given this recipe by one of her first Canadian friends, someone who had her convinced that only us crazy Canucks would ever make such a jaunty and thrilling drink such as this and who then had a great laugh at her expense when she served this to guests. The ingredients don’t frighten me much, only confuse me. Are we eating this or are we going to have a bath in it? The recipe calls for:
- 2 oz citric acid. Okay this one is fine. Citric acid is in about 90% of the citrus-y flavoured stuff we consume and one form of citric acid is actually vitamin C. Nowadays, citric acid is a common ingredient in homemade bath bombs and apparently you can still find it in canning sections for when you are canning things that may brown. And its cheap, too. One online store I found it at it was $2.25 a pound. Fair enough.
- 1 oz tartaric acid. This one was easy enough to figure out too. This is commonly found in wine and is the cause of “wine diamonds” which are the little crystals that occasionally form on the corks. Its also related to cream of tartar, which I have in my cupboard (not scary). However, there was one slightly alarming sentence in the Wikipedia entry: “Tartaric acid is a muscle toxin, which works by inhibiting the production of malic acid, and in high doses causes paralysis and death.” You know, because us Canadians LAUGH IN THE FACE OF DEATH SO LET’S PUT THIS SHIT IN A DRINK.
- 1/2 oz Epsom Salts. I know what these are. I have a great big huge jug of them beside my tub and use them when I have a bath. I like them, and they make the water soft amd I have scented them before with essential oils and wait… isn’t this supposed to be a drink? I’m confused.
- 3 lbs of lump sugar. Okay now we are talking! Anything with that much sugar is bound to be good.
- The juice and grated rind of 6 lemons. No more, no less. 6 lemons.
- 3 pints of boiling water. Because boiling water makes everything taste better.
The directions say: Mix all together and scald with boiling water. Cool and strain into a bottle. A really effing big bottle, I would suppose. Use about 1 tablespoon per tumbler of water. This is when the word “tumbler” was new. And very, very exciting. Makes a lovely refreshing drink! THAT YOU COULD BATH IN.
Recipe # 2:
This one is titled “Mum’s Recipe for Cough Mixture” and contains 1 oz each of the following:
- oil of peppermint. That sounds safe and pleasant enough. I like peppermint. I have this ingredient in my baking stash.
- oil of aniseed. Okay, not my favorite, but again, safe enough, right? I don’t have this, but it is available and is commonly used for all sorts of liquorice tasting things, including absinthe. (Okay, maybe not so safe.)
- ladunum (sic). I had a hard time hunting this one down – it can be confused with labdanum, a common perfume ingredient derived from some shruberries. However, I think she was actually suggesting Oil of Laudanum, also known as TINCTURE OF OPIUM. Seriously? What. The. Hell? This stuff actually contains about 10 mgs of morphine per millilitre of tincture. In the Victorian age, Laudanum was spoon fed to infants (no wonder they were so quiet and well mannered!) and people DIED from overdosing on the stuff after becoming heavily addicted. Books were written under the influence and about laudanum. AWESOME idea, Great-Grandma – put this in COUGH MIXTURE! It’s only a Schedule III controlled substance for which you need to affix a BRIGHT RED STICKER with skull and crossbones on it! YUMMY!
- paregoric. If having 1 ounce of laudanum wasn’t good enough, we need to add some of this stuff to it. Known as laudanum’s weaker cousin, paregoric is another opium derivative, this one contains about 0.4 mgs of morphine per millilitre, and is better known for its antidiarrheal properties and its antitussive properties (So this is the only part of the cough mixture that actually is supposed to curb a cough). Or, you could just take some Immodium and Robitussin and oh, I don’t know, NOT DIE.
- “Spanish”. I have no idea what this ingredient refers to. Spanish coffee? Spanish onions? The Spanish River? Should you mix this while speaking Spanish? Was there some other mysterious Victoria ingredient calling Spanish? I can’t find it. She may have been referring to “Spanish Fly”, also known as Cantharidin, which athough supposedly an aphrodesiac, can cause urinary and genital irritation and / or permanent erections, and that’s IF YOU DON’T DIE RIGHT AWAY, because it is FATAL in as low as 10 mg. Judging from the rest of this list, I would not be shocked if this was the ingredient she was referring to.
To those lovely ingredients you are supposed to add 1/2 pound of Black Treacle. Treacle is one of those things that British people seem to know more about than us pioneering colonials, probably because it was used widely in days when Canada DIDN’T EVEN EXIST. Anyway, if I was going to try and reproduce “Mum’s Recipe for Cough Mixture” today, I would simply use molasses. Not 100% the same thing, but close enough. Black sugar that is sticky.
Finally, you add 1 pint of boiling water, (this is the catch-all ingredient of the day, apparently) presumably to dilute and thin it down enough that you can actually swallow it.
No dose is given but then again, when you are combining ingredients that just MIGHT KILL YOU does it really matter?