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A Word To the Wise: Joshander

December 11, 2013

“What on earth??” said A, as he came into the sitting room, brandishing the packet of kettle chips. “Nobody opens a packet of crisps like this unless they haven’t seen food for a month.”  He looked at me.  At the moment, it’s perfectly clear that I’ve seen food very recently.  What I hadn’t seen though, for many months, were salt and vinegar crisps. I certainly hadn’t seem them in their elevated state of Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Kettle Chips which are, to my mind, the highest form of the art.  Chip Nirvana, if you will.  I may, therefore, have been slightly over-exuberant in opening the packet and managed to rip it from top to bottom.

Why is it that us Brits are the only people on earth who appreciate the rapture of a salt and vinegar crisp?  Is the salty-soury joy something that is passed down in the womb, along with a love of Branston Pickle and a distrust of anything paprika flavoured, or are we indoctrinated at a later date?  Whatever it is, it is nigh on impossible here to get your hands on any here – hence my excitement. I’m well aware that in a country where many people are without the basic necessities of life (electricity, running water, education), a dearth of salt and vinegar crisps definitely counts as a First World Problem, but it’s my problem.

Part of my excuse for over-enthusiasm (if any is needed) is a need to comfort eat as I’ve got a bit of a cold at the moment.  I haven’t been able to talk since Saturday.  You can imagine how the family are suffering.   My ayah (the children’s nanny) prescribed something called ‘Joshander’.  I had absolutely no idea what this was.  For a while I resisted getting any. I’ve been suspicious of Pakistani pharmacies since I was nearly sold cough mixture with 10% alcohol for my 3 year old.  However my ayah stopped giving me any sympathy at all, and after 4 days I broke.  I need sympathy when I’m ill.  In fact I demand it.  You want to withhold sympathy?  Fine, I’ll buy your strange drugs and even take them if it means I get a kind look.

So yesterday I went to the pharmacy.  Trying to ignore the packets of codeine pills which were readily available on the shelf, I asked for  “Joshander”.  And here it is:


Yep, it’s a “centuries old herbal tea” in freeze-dried form.  Sounds thoroughly authentic to me.  It promises to cure flu, coughs, colds, catarrh, irritation of the throat and fever.  I can’t tell what’s in it. There appears to be something to do with glycerol (freeze-dried?), something minty and eucalyptus. I know the last one because it’s listed on the box as ‘Eucalyptus’, which is helpful.  The other 7 ingredients are a mystery.

I tried it.  It tastes disgusting.  In fact, to quote Mary Berry in quite the most withering putdown I’ve ever heard her use on the Great British Bake Off, it tastes as though it’s doing me good.  And it is doing me good.  My cough is getting better. I’m not feeling so coldy.  My sore throat is abating and, most excitingly for the family, I have my voice back.   More importantly, however, when asked by the local Pakistanis (who are very solicitous) how my cold is going, I am able to say “Better thank you, I’m taking Joshander”.  I then get lots of positive affirmation, sage nods and appreciation for my perspicacity.

So, for the moment, I’m sticking with the Joshander – at least until I can get someone to translate the active ingredients for me.  Now, if only I persuade the Pakistanis of the joy of a salt and vinegar crisp, the cultural exchange will be complete.

  1. Aunty Ailsa permalink

    Get well soon, lovely, by whatever means work!!!! And totally agree, salt & vinegar kettle crisps are simply the best…………xxx


    • And now box sets of Merlin (and the largest antibiotics in the world). That seems to be doing the job…


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