YES IT'S OVER
My friend's mantra for getting through his dissertation were the two 'C's- chocolate and cigarettes. Since I don't smoke, he recommended I eat more chocolate. Maybe it's one cube of chocolate, or one late night too many, but I'm having a bit of a cough and a sore throat now. Rather than turning to the local GP, I've self-administered myself rather tasty prescriptions of lemon-honey water and pear-and-almond soup.
Growing up in asia means food has always been the first form of medicine I turn to. Back in summer, I drink barley water like it's going out of fashion (to be honest, it already is old-fashioned) but in autumn, the howling winds and crisp dry air means that the focus is on getting foods that moisten, and the ingredients in this traditional concoction all have moistening, yin qualities, and in addition, specifically target the lungs and the skin. Funnily, this concotion takes the form of dessert, or tong sui as we generally call these sweet soups. The Chinese approach to desserts is far-removed from the English or American concept of an indulgently sweet/fatty treat; it's a rather guilt-free way to satisfy your sweet tooth, or if you like to go one step further in the mental assurance thing, it's a health supplement/ medicine that actually tastes good.
PEAR AND ALMOND DESSERT SOUP
1 large ripe conference pear
2 tbsp south almonds
1 tbsp north almonds
1 dried white fungus (soft, not the crunchy variety)
1-2 tbsp rock sugar or raw honey (or to taste)
1. Soak the almonds and white fungus in water for at least a couple of hours, then drain. The white fungus will plump up and become soft and translucent and kind of dirty as all the gritty bits get loosened, so rinse well and break into florets.
2. Peel, core and halve the pear.
3. Place the pear, along with the almonds, fungus, sugar, and just enough water to cover, into a little ceramic pot or deep bowl that has a tight fitting lid. Place the little pot into a larger pot (I use a ceramic slow-cooker) filled with enough water for the 2-3 hours of boiling.
OR (If you can't be faffed)
Place almonds, fungus, sugar and enough water to cover in a pot and simmer for about half an hour till the fungus is soft but still retains a bit of bite, then add the pears and simmer until it's just fully poached through, translucent but not mushy.
4. Adjust the sweetness level if needed. The soup is quite refreshing when cool, but better warm I believe.
Other Asian dessert therapies:
Old-fashioned Barley Water, with a few variations
Black Sticky Rice Porridge (Pulut Hitam), with red adzuki beans and coconut cream