10.23.2008

Old wives and their tails...er...tales.

The first time I went grocery shopping here I was surprised to find the eggs neatly stacked on shelves in an ordinary isle in the store. Completely unrefrigerated and almost naked without their tidy styrofoam cartons keeping them ordered by twelves.  I had never seen eggs in sets of fifteen before, but that was unimportant.  What mattered was that I was quite certain that eggs should be refrigerated!  Right?   

Well, as it turns out,  the answer is "No".  It's true that eggs stay fresh longer when refrigerated, but eggs can stay on the kitchen counter until they are used.  In fact, most countries do not cool eggs for transport or storage before the point of sale.  Okay, my point is that everybody lives with a bit of misinformation.  We all do things, often without question, that we learned as children.  Eat chicken soup for a cold, put butter on a burn, maybe avoid walking under a ladder. Superstitions can be powerful - even when they're totally stupid.  With that said, here are a couple of my favorites from Costa Rica:

> Going out in the cold when your body is warm will cause injury or illness. 
We have a friend here that believes whole heartedly that he hurt his shoulder by doing this (even though he had been using a chainsaw the day before, he insisted that it was because of the warm body/cold air thingy), and another who is convinced that her ongoing stomach problems are the result of working in a hot kitchen and then walking in the cool night air.

> Taking a hot shower makes you age faster.
For real?  I don't even get this one at all.

> If you are sick, you need sunshine. 
When I had pneumonia, I heard this often.  I did make it to the beach once during that time, much to the dismay of my doctor who noticed my freshly tanned skin and reminded me that he had prescribed rest, not surfing.     

> Coconut milk cures....well....everything. 
Stomach ache, head ache, urinary tract infection?  No problem!  We'll just hack the top off  this green coconut, jam a straw in it, and as soon as you're done sucking down the nauseatingly sweet liquid you'll be back on track!  

When I get home from the store, I still put the eggs in the fridge.  Mostly to save counter space, but partly because there is a sense of peace that comes with doing things the way I always have, the way my Mom did.  I think it helps me feel at home here.  I remember once, years ago, when one of my boys got stung by a bee, I made a paste of baking soda and water, assuring him that it would help, but knowing full well that it was a placebo.  The look on his face told a different story though, one of relief and reassurance.  Clearly he felt better, whether or not the funny paste actually did anything.  

I wonder what the Tico's think as they dart into my house to escape the cold air after a long hot day of curing the sniffles by drinking from a coconut in the sun.  When they notice that my eggs are in the fridge, do they think I'm stupid for buying into such sillyness?  



9 comments:

  1. Sea beans in your back pocket cure hemorrhoids; cow fat, urine, cabbage cures gastric problems; eating lots of lemons cures stomach acid (huh?!); there is a hot shower thing here too, but I don't remember it. Very interesting...

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  2. Oliver has a fever and just threw up on me. I came to the internet because I was confused if I feed a fever and starve a cold or starve a fever and feed a cold.

    I think you are right most of the stuff we believe is false yet it makes us feel good because it's what we know.

    Now I am off to figure out what I should feed my feverish babe for dinner.

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  3. In my film class, we watched a movie from 1952. When the wife pulled an egg from a bowl on TOP of the 'ice box', I thought of you.

    Neil asked me once, why I needed a giant pot filled with water to make spaghetti, when a small pot with just enough water to cover the noodles would boil much faster. I replied "because my mom used a pot like this." Of course, I'm cooking noodles for two. Not six.

    There's a sense of comfort following a routine we were raised with, and that comfort can cure many of the ails our bodies can inflict on us.

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  5. The pnuemonia/sunshine connection probably has some truth to it...been reading a lot about vitamin D3 preventing/curing colds/flu and how we're mostly all defecient in it (at least those of us up north, here)and so that's why winter is cold and flu season. Lack of D3 from the sun. =) Wow, that was coherent.

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  6. Just found your blog and love it. I was a missionary for a while in Africa and they have several beleifs that crack me up: If you yawn it's because you are hungry. And if you sweep your dirt yard anytime but 1st thing in the morning, something bad will happen to you,- like a family member will die.
    They also had their eggs out. Like you I still put them in the fridge

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  7. hmmm....sunshine has vitamin D and vitamin D is good for boosting the immune system....so maybe that one does make sense!

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  8. Yeah, I can see that one being legit, too. I'm pro-sunshine (in moderation). :)

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