I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a thing for ginger. Yes, ginger, the pickled, pink, filmy stuff on your plate of sushi you always ignore, happily piling on another spicy glob of wasabi instead. Yes, ginger, the tangled piece of tree root you always bypass at the supermarket, pondering its undoubtedly hippie use. Yes, ginger, that sudden burst of taste that clings to your tongue when you sip a Moscow Mule. That ginger.
I’m not entirely certain where my obsession with the root came from. Maybe it’s because I hit puberty right as the Spice Girls were topping out in popularity and reruns of Gilligan’s Island broadcasted late into TV Land’s night, but I never could get the word “ginger” out of my head. It was everywhere around that time. There were the South Park episodes mocking redheads and animated movies with main characters named Ginger (Chicken Run, anyone? Anyone at all? Oh come on, you guys!). Hell, my mom named one of our cats Ginger. The word was everywhere, but it was just that. A word. I had no sense of the ginger’s food use.
That is, until that day I met a magical old lady.
In my early twenties, many years after ginger had nested deep within my brain, I was in a grocery store feeling rather ill, my stomach bubbling up in an angry wrath at last night’s burrito buffet, when an elderly woman approached me. She stopped in front of me, saying nothing. Her eyes locked onto mine for one instant that lasted an eternity, the silence finally ending when she spoke. “Ginger candies are excellent for an upset stomach, you know.” Then she pointed behind me.
I turned to look where she was pointing and came face to face with an enormous display of ginger candy. I tossed a few in my basket and turned back around. But she was gone. Of course she was gone. She was a magical old lady, she didn’t have time for my bullshit. Anyway, the candy worked, killing off my stomach ache. Lesson learned. Ginger is obviously magic. Always trust old ladies with candy. And eat as many ginger foods as you possibly can. All words I’ll live by until the day I’m abducted by a non-magical, candy-poisoning old lady in a vinyl covered van.
Ginger: If magical old ladies use it, then it’s good enough for me.