Sophia Pappas for NPR
For as long as there have been sore throats, runny noses and coughs, different cultures have used home remedies in hopes of feeling better. Chicken soup, ginger tea, mustard patches. And for those with Eastern European roots, a drink known as gogl-mogl.
Also called goggle-moggle, kogel mogel, guggle muggle, -, the drink is basically like a hot eggnog or sabayon, diluted to drink. It has been widely used as a healing remedy in Ashkenazi Jewish communities. Although the drink also exists in non-Jewish communities, it is generally considered more of a dessert.
Eve Jochnowitz, a Yiddish teacher and Jewish culinary ethnographer, jokes that gogl-mogl “seems to be one of those things, like chicken soup, it’s always been there.”
Jochnowitz says the most common version starts with sugar or honey mixed with egg yolks and then whisked into hot milk.
There are slightly different versions, sometimes cognac or slivovitz was thrown in; sometimes chocolate or butter was added. Jochnowitz says that the gogl-mogl was found in different parts of Europe.
“The whole Yiddish-speaking world, from Czechoslovakia in the west, to the borders of the Russian Empire in the east, I would say.”
And with immigration, gogl-mogl made it to America. The late New York City Mayor Ed Koch presented his version at a press conference in 1987. Notably, the unique version, which ditches the eggs and milk and instead mixes honey and liquor with fresh-squeezed citrus fruits (he notes that as an elected official, he doesn’t drink alcohol on the job, but would get gogl -can recover overnight).
In a recent interview with WHYY’s Fresh Air, singer Barbra Streisand recalled her mother recommending it after her first real gig.
“The first thing he said, I remember, was ‘Your voice needs eggs. You have to use the gogl mogul because your voice is stronger.”
In the Yiddish Book Center’s oral history, Al Rosen, a World War II veteran, recalls how his father also prepared a gogl mogul to cover his throat before his role in singing Kol Nidre, the melodic service that began the high holiday of Yom Kippur.
Now, some have fond memories of parents and grandparents bringing a gogl-mogle to their sickbed. But many people were afraid of it.
“People with negative memories seem to have in common that the egg yolk was not beaten with sugar,” notes Eve Jochnowitz. “You put in a whole egg yolk, and the idea was that you would swallow the whole egg yolk while drinking a hot drink. And it doesn’t sound quite as wonderful.”
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, curator of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, remembers being given a goggle for chest pain during the harsh winters of her childhood in Toronto. And it was No pleasant experience.
“Oh no, hell no,” he laughs. “No no.”
But he admits there was a comforting warmth to it. And he wonders about its future.
“I’m curious to what extent the gogl-mogl persists among the American-born generation, especially among people who were born, say, 20, 30 years ago. And to what extent it is inherited from mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers from Europe. .”
Culinary ethnographer Eve Jochnowitz says the sharpest decline probably occurred in the 1970s, as the immigrant generation aged. The availability of over-the-counter drugs and a lower tolerance for giving children raw eggs and alcohol may also have played a role.
According to Polish food writer Micha Korkosz, a dessert version of gogl-mogl can still be found in Eastern Europe. Although even then it is considered a relic of the past, which goes back to communist times, when there were no sweets in stores.
The Polish version is more like an eggnog, just a cloud of whipped egg and sugar, rather than the beginning of a sponge cake.
“It’s so fluffy, it’s so creamy,” waxes Korkosz. “It has its richness.”
But Korkosz notes that sometimes when someone was sick, her grandmother would pour some hot milk and turn this dessert into medicine.
“Sweet treat, but somehow the milk makes it medicine, doesn’t it?” he laughs.
Which begs the question, does gogl-mogl actually do anything medically? Dr. Diane Pappas is a pediatrician at the University of Virginia who studies cough management in children. He says…huh?
“We don’t have really good evidence that honey does much for coughs,” explains Pappas. “There are a few studies that say it might help a little bit. They’re not high quality, but that’s really all we have.”
But that might not be anything special about honey.
“There are indications that just by having some kind of viscous liquid coating that soothes and calms the throat and increases saliva and whatever, that these things can also help to soothe coughs or cold symptoms.”
Pappas says if you want a gogl-mogle, take it. Calories and warm fluids always help. And as long as the egg is fully cooked and you don’t give honey to babies, it’s fine.
“I don’t know that there are any downsides to them unless you put alcohol in it,” says Pappas. “I don’t know that there’s a big twist too.”
Pappas says even though he can’t ethically determine This effect can affect all sorts of things that people wish they could do better.
And Polish food writer Micha Korkosz says there’s also the comfort of tradition.
“I always compare the foods of our childhood to a warm blanket. They are so comforting and so delicious, and they remind you of when you were the happiest of your life.”
Which can be the perfect thing to do when you’re feeling ugly.
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