My family name might be Chin, but the Gwon genes also run through my veins. Like my Gwon cousins, I love naps and am impossibly stubborn at times. My father once commented about our uncanny ability to take naps, remarking, “Must be all the thinking they do.” Perhaps all that thinking and napping really does pay off.
On my mother’s side of the family, the Gwons are blessed with a multitude of doctors. There’s Auntie Nancy, Auntie Arlene, her husband Frank, and several cousins: Brian, Kevin, Michael, Cally, and her husband Scott.
All of my serious consultations with my primary doctor have been followed up with expert advice from a Gwon doctor. Luckily, my illnesses have never reached a life-threatening status. Nevertheless, it’s reassuring to have a family of doctors on call.
Then there’s the most important Gwon of all: my mom. She tended to me on days when I was stricken with the flu. As long as I had a fever, I had a free pass to lounge around the house, complain about the stuffiness of my nose and wear a blanket like an oversized jacket. While not an MD, my mom always knew exactly how to supplement a doctor’s prescription. Like every mother, she didn’t need to be asked twice to whip up my favorite comfort foods. For a sick young flu-stricken Kara, the cure was brightly colored Jell-O squares and Mom’s chicken jook (or congee, as it’s called in these parts) with chunks of good white chicken.
Beijing might lack the luxury of my mom’s kitchen-to-couch service, but since living here, I’ve adapted a more Chinese approach to remedies. I cringe at the thought of an icy cup of water, prefering a cup of lukewarm water instead. I can also vouch for the traditional Chinese loquat leaf-based cough syrup (piba gao) as a savior for a scratchy throat. On a weekly basis, I can be found at my local food stall searching for some luscious leafy greens. Though I don’t always know what they are or the proper way to cook them, it’s always a culinary adventure!
Before you retreat under the covers to hibernate for winter, you too can earn some Beijinger stripes: scouring your local markets for the healthiest vegetables and stocking your cabinet with effective Chinese medicine. This month’s feature articles, centered around good health, also tackle the complexities of insuring your family while abroad and offer you new, upbeat options to stay fit – or at least, ways to tame that illustrious Thanksgiving belly.
Mom might be too far away to serve up a helping of her homemade jook, but I’m comforted knowing that she is just a short phone call away from sharing her recipe for it. And my slew of brainy aunts, uncles and cousins are really only a few extra digits away from providing Gwon-certified advice on any ailment.
If all else fails in remedying my inevitable winter cold and cough this year, I can always resort to napping. I can only hope that it will cure what ails me. After all, I am a Gwon.