An Onion a Day

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Some put their
faith in the hands of the medical profession, others, it seems prefer
more natural remedies.

When flu-season
comes around to any city it brings with it coughs and sniffles,
tired faces, and red-rimmed eyes but this year these signs are possibly
the harbinger of something worse: Swine-Flu. Blic newspaper estimated
over 20,000 cases in Serbia earlier this week.

As
this is the Balkans, fighting Swine-flu is not just simply a battle
launched by Health Officials and a vaccination campaign, but a fight
that involves something a bit more mystical.

Folk remedies
here tend to carry as much, if not more weight, than conventional
medicines, and everyone and their ‘granny’ has a few tricks
up their sleeves to avoid getting sick this winter.

We took a trip
around to some markets in the city and dug around in the kitchens
and cupboards of some locals to check on their preparations for
the new flu bug.

It was reported
this week in the local media that Swine-flu had caused a surge of
garlic sales in the country, and that garlic prices have gone up
in local markets.

We hit Kalenic
and Zeleni Venac markets to find out, and discovered that the price
had indeed gone up by a few dinars. As we bought a few bulbs, we
were inundated with advice on how to use it, how much to eat, and
also told how smart we were for buying it.

As you look
around you notice that alongside the garlic, ginger and lemon and
one or two more interesting items are being pushed as a ‘cure
all’ for what ails you, and most of these items are staples
of an already hearty and organic Serbian diet.

So far, face
masks are not too evident, but there do seem to be worried shoppers
searching for ingredients to boost their immune system. In the Balkans,
garlic has long been seen as a charm against evil, a ‘blood
cleaner’ and a cure-all for an endless list of strange illnesses.

Belgrade’s
public transport system is never the most fragrant of places but
it’s become more of a challenge of late as more people, it
seems, are carrying around the aroma of the little white cloves
on their person.

Raza, a market
trader, told us that vaccines can’t be trusted, that his ancestors
had been treating sicknesses with local produce and herbs for centuries.
He says he has never been ill, and that the only side affect is
his ‘oniony’ breath, which he says, laughing, his wife
never gets tired of complaining about.

In times like
these, Serbians cannot stay away from the white onion. Guaranteed
to clean the blood, and make you strong as an ox, the further south
you travel in the country, the more onion appears in local dishes,
often just raw and chopped as a side dish.

Among the many
the medical claims for the onion are its use as an antiseptic, a
pain reliever, a hypertension cure, to regulate blood sugar and
help with elevated cholesterol.That’s a lot for a little vegetable
that usually brings you to tears.

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the rest of the article

December
3, 2009

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