I spent all morning today in one of my favorite places in the shuk, a small, ten-year-old shop filled with customers searching to heal ailments such as hypertension, migraines, sore throats and urinary problems. Once I heard someone ask how to heal her joint pain. His prescription: don’t be so judgmental, and then he also squirted two droplets of his famous ginger-camphor-mint-etrog serum into her palm and had her rub her aches with it. When you walk into his shop with a head cold though, he’ll quickly grab your finger, squirt some onto the tip, and tell you to stick it up your nose and inhale deeply. It usually makes me cry, but man, it seriously works. He calls himself the “Etrog Medicine Man” because etrog is a main ingredient in many of his recipes, and he also makes soaps, hand creams and sprays that offer dozens of medicinal etrog benefits. Etrog is a citrus fruit not quite orange and not quite lemon (though much closer to lemon). It can be as large as 6 inches in length, it has a bumpy exterior and is mainly used on the Jewish holiday Sukkot.
From the wisdom of his grandfather, passed onto his father, passed down to him at 11 years old, Uzi Ellie’s medicinal drinks ease ailments as benign as the onset of a cold to something more sever, such as ulcers and diseases. Just this morning he encouraged me to gargle with a gingko biloba-cardamon-ginseng-honey-qat mixture and to drink more water to manage my migraines. It burned and tasted awful until the qat set in and my mouth began to tingle. I felt pretty good.
On this particular morning, however, Uzi Ellie taught me how to make Yemenite Schug (a spicy dip that goes on meat, hummus or in soup and pronounced: Skh-ooo-g) and a Passionfruit, Goat’s Yogurt drink. He blessed me, showed me how he blesses the food that he shares with his customers, let me join into the food-making process, taught me the medicinal value of some of his most popular items, got me a little high from the migraine/qat serum, had my soul assessed (I’m doing great, in case you’re wondering), and, most importantly, gave me an experience I will never forget. If you are ever in Jerusalem, I really encourage you to stop by his shop. He is well known in the Machane Yehuda Market (the “shuk”), and his shop really does boast dozens of health benefits, interesting flavors, and an unforgettable experience for anyone.
Making the schug together:
To make schug at home, for under a million people, Uzi Ellie also gave me this recipe:
2 bunches of cilantro
2 hot green peppers
1/2 head of garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
drizzle of olive oil
1 bunch of green onion
5 cardamon pods
Put everything into a blender with 1/2 cup of water.
Passionfruit, Goat’s Milk Drink
He didn’t give me any special tips on this, but to make a couple of drinks’ worth, I would guess you would need something like:
10 oz goat’s milk (you could use your favorite yogurt instead)
10-13 passionfruit with the insides scooped out
2-3 tblsp sugar