So this would be the spice market in Yarkand, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, in October 2005. One of our group had a horrible cold, so we went inside and visited an elderly gentleman who had his shingle out as an apothecary (there was at least one in every market). He had a mortar and pestle made from a stick with a bulbous end and a long hollow wooden cylinder carved out of wood, which I think must have been a hollowed-out section of poplar, as it is the go-to wood in that region.
He listened attentively to the list of symptoms, held up a hand when he’d heard enough, and started sprinkling a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that into the wooden cylinder. He ground it up with the pestle and poured it into a little paper envelope, and handed it over to our sufferer with instructions to steep a healthy pinch in hot water morning and evening, and drink.
Worked like a charm.
Which I will be signing at 2pm on December 2nd
at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.