Spicy in Buenos Aires: Life-Saver

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This is Stephanie Appiah’s last column from Buenos Aires

After two bouts of gastroenteritis — yes, I got it again last week, and was sick for days — I give up on modern medicine, doctors, and prescription drugs. It’s time to use the old African–for my part Ghanaian–remedy for stomach sickness. I went to the doctor, and he gave me this expensive prescription for medication that should THIS TIME kill the amoebas, parasites or whatever that have moved into my stomach and turned my intestines into a Motel Six. It’s really hard to find spicy food here, because people perceive spicy food as Mexican food, or “northern Latin American.” After talking to my family, I decided to ignore the prescription and choose the tried and true way with hot sauce. I went to El Barrio Chino (Buenos Aires has a two street Chinatown that they are very proud of), and walked into the biggest Asian foods grocery and bought this sauce called Sriarcha.

I eat this sauce on everything. Sometimes I even just spread the sauce on bread, it’s the perfect kind of hot. In addition to being delicious, this sauce has saved my life through its unofficial medicinal properties. Within a day of eating it, the stomach swelling has gone down, my chest hurts less, and I can pee without screaming. This experience has solidified my belief that old remedies work the best, particularly when it involves spices. When I was younger and had a cold, my mom would roast chili peppers and have me eat then with turkey in a sandwich. My nose would run, and my cold would disappear in a day or so. Maybe it’s the antioxidants that peppers have, or maybe it’s just the spice. Whatever it is, I have finally found the spicy spicy in Buenos Aires!