Some people with the sniffles turn to an Eastern European remedy to relieve symptoms
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
For as long as people have had the sniffles, they've had home remedies. And for people with roots in Eastern Europe, one of those remedies is gogl-mogl. Deena Prichep reports it's the stuff of childhood memories, both good and bad.
DEENA PRICHEP, BYLINE: It's hard to pinpoint the first appearance of gogl-mogl.
EVE JOCHNOWITZ: It seems to be one of those things like chicken soup. It's always been there.
PRICHEP: Eve Jochnowitz is a Yiddish teacher who researches the history of Jewish food.
JOCHNOWITZ: They begin with grinding up the sugar or some honey, mixing it with the egg yolks and then beating in hot milk.
PRICHEP: There are slightly different versions of this recipe. Sometimes a shot of brandy or slivovitz was thrown in, occasionally some chocolate. And Jochnowitz says it was found across Europe.
JOCHNOWITZ: From Czechoslovakia in the west, as far as the borders of the Russian Empire in the east, I would say.
PRICHEP: And with immigration, gogl-mogl. made its way into America. The late New York City mayor Ed Koch gave out his version at a press conference in 1987.
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ED KOCH: My suggestion is a minimum - if you really want to get cracking on the cold - a minimum of three gogl-mogls a day.
PRICHEP: In a recent interview on WHYY's Fresh Air, singer Barbra Streisand recalled her mother recommending it after her first real gig.
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BARBRA STREISAND: The first thing she said, I remember, was your voice needs eggs. You have to use a gogl-mogl 'cause your voice needs to be stronger.
PRICHEP: Now, some people have sweet memories of parents and grandparents bringing a gogl-mogl to their sickbed, but a lot of people dreaded it, especially when the egg was raw, like in the gogl-mogl Barbra Streisand's mother made.
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STREISAND: Which I could never swallow - ugh.
PRICHEP: This concoction has become more of a memory, likely due to the rise of over-the-counter medicines and lowering tolerance for giving raw eggs and alcohol to children. According to Michal Korkosz, a food writer in Poland, you can still find gogl-mogl in Eastern Europe, but as a dessert. And even then it's seen as a relic of the past.
MICHAL KORKOSZ: During the Communist times, where there was no sweet treats in the stores, my mother, she would make the gogl-mogl at home.
PRICHEP: The Polish version is more like an egg foam, a cloud of just whipped eggs and sugar, like the beginning of a sponge cake.
KORKOSZ: It's so fluffy. It's so creamy. It has its richness.
PRICHEP: But Korkosz says sometimes when someone was sick, his grandmother would pour in a little hot milk, turning this dessert into a remedy.
KORKOSZ: Sweet treat but somehow milk makes it a medicine, right (laughter)?
PRICHEP: Which raises the question, does gogl-mogl actually do anything medicinally? Dr. Diane Pappas is a pediatrician at the University of Virginia who researches cough management in kids. She says, meh.
DIANE PAPPAS: We don't have any really good evidence that honey does a whole lot for a cough. There's a few studies that say it might help a little bit. They're not great quality, but it's really all we have.
PRICHEP: Pappas says if you want a gogl-mogl, go for it. Calories and warm fluids always help. And as long as the egg is fully cooked and you're not giving honey to infants, it's fine.
PAPPAS: I don't know that there are downsides unless you put the alcohol in it. I don't know that there's a huge upside either.
PRICHEP: Pappas says while she can't ethically prescribe placebos, that affect can play a role in all sorts of things people take, hoping to feel better. And Polish food writer Michal Korkosz says there's also the comfort of tradition.
KORKOSZ: I always compare dishes from our childhood as like a warm blanket. They're, like, so cozy, and they are so delicious. They reminds you when you were the happiest in your life.
PRICHEP: Which may be the perfect thing when you're feeling crummy.
For NPR News, I'm Deena Prichep.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T RAIN ON MY PARADE")
STREISAND: (Singing) Don't tell me not to live. Just sit and putter. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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