There’s rum and there’s rum. Jamaican rum has the reputation of being the finest in the world and is a part of everyday life on the island. By the time they are ten, most children would have sampled rum in one form or another. Fathers have been known to give small children a ‘tot’ to introduce them to the taste—without the permission of their mothers, of course. Rum is also an informal truth serum, as discretion is in scarce supply when the rum drinker has gone past his limit. Here are seven ways in which rum factors into the lives of Jamaicans.
- Men swear by rum, combined with honey, and lime, as a great way to stop a cold in its tracks. Some insist that a cup of strong black coffee with honey and lime is powerful folk medicine that works.
- Apart from being ingested, rum is used to ‘souse down’ patients with high fever. After the neck, chest, and back are wet with rum, the patient is put to bed, under the sheets, to allow the ‘medicine’ to do its work. Inhaling rum is a great way to unclog the sinuses.
- Pouring good old Overproof on the top of one’s head or ‘mole’ is supposed to prevent illness if one gets caught in the rain or decides to be adventurous and shampoo the hair after dark.
- Rum is also used as a pain remedy. According to old wives’ tales, it is particularly effective for arthritis pain relief if there’s a preserved scorpion involved. The scorpion is soaked in a quantity of rum, which is then used to ‘sap’ inflamed joints as necessary.
- Rum is added as that extra ingredient that gives a kick in various recipes, including Cow Cod Soup, Curry Goat, Fish Tea and Mannish Water. With the exception of Curry Goat, people claim these menu items act as aphrodisiacs.
- Drinks are no exception, and many liquid concoctions contain rum. It is a must-have in carrot juice, home-made egg nog, sorrel, and soursop juice.
- The most pedestrian use of rum is in cakes. Months before Christmas, housewives soak dried fruits in a combination of rum and wine. Rum serves as a natural preservative and enhances flavour, so no fruitcake is complete without it.Since the uses of rum vary so much, some gems slip through the cracks. Here are two additional recommendations:-
- Rum is good as a construction aid. It is recommended that householders sprinkle this vital liquid in the foundation and/or pour it at the corners of a new building as an offering to ‘dem other ones’ (good spirits) or to chase the bad ones away.
- Ganja soaked in rum and then used in tea is another cure-all. This mixture fixes anything from headaches to bellyaches and some swear it also relieves cancer pains.