Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Since I'm eating most of my dinners alone at home right now, I've been tinkering in the kitchen a lot, especially with foods that I don't cook for Rick because of his allergies. And I do mean "tinkering". Today I added eggplant, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and green olives to a bottled tomato sauce and poured it over spaghetti. Worked okay, although it would have been better if I'd taken the time to make my own tomato sauce base.

This led me to think: Some of us like to experiment with food, but how many of us experiment with beverages? In our culture, most of that effort takes place in bars, and is focused on alcoholic drinks. I do drink alcohol sometimes, but rarely consume high-maintenance beverages; I prefer wine, beer, or more rarely, a very simple mixed drink. (The concoctions with cream and egg whites and chocolate shavings and eye of newt in them usually don't do much for me.)

The post-1990 boom in coffeeshops did expand our horizons somewhat, but most coffee drinks still follow a basic pattern: Coffee, flavoring, maybe whipped cream. Not bad, but -- yawn. I suspect this is very different in other parts of the world. For instance, a year or so ago I attended a party where the hosts and many other guests were observant Muslims, so of course no alcohol was served. However, the hostess did serve an absolutely amazing cold drink that she said was popular in her native Pakistan. It was a fresh-squeezed sweet limeade with lots of grated ginger, a touch of salt, and a generous lacing of cumin and red pepper. I don't remember ever having drunk something so delicious before or since -- and I can usually take or leave cold drinks of any kind.

So here's the question: Has anyone out there concocted or otherwise experienced creative non-alcoholic non-coffee drinks? Inquiring minds -- mine, at least -- want to know.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger Maribeth said...

So far, my only experiments have been mixing milk, Coke and Koolaid in various proportions with some third-grade friends and, as an adult, non-alcoholic punch, of the ginger ale and orange sherbert variety.

I know alcoholic drinks don't count, and I personally cannot take credit for this experiment, but vodka and Slimfast is drinkable, and obviously has the benefit of being calorically neutral. :)

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Julie said...

...hehehehe... reminds me of drinking chocolate milkshakes laced with Bacardi 151 in college.

I like juice mixes too -- just had some ruby red grapefruit juice mixed with diet cranberry. I've also blogged before about my fondness for Diet Ice and carrot juice. Haven't had that in quite a while, in fact ....

At 3:00 AM, Blogger Richard Mason said...

Caltech has a student-run food joint called the Coffeehouse. At one point I was hooked on an interesting milkshake called Avocado Lust.(*) It was green, by the grace of food coloring, and featured chocolate and maraschino cherries.

A year or two goes by, undergraduates graduate (while I with true-fix'd and resting quality remain as constant as the Northern Star), and get this:

They lost the recipe! They forgot how to make it!

A cautionary tale for us all. Things that are known can become unknown.

(*) contains no actual avocado

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Julie said...

That's the problem. Undergraduates graduate. Graduate students don't, at least not for a while, and are left out there railing against all of the petty injustices of a world that changes too damned fast. Or not fast enough. Or something like that.

Pity. I'd gladly go all the way to California to try a green milkshake with chocolate and cherry flavoring ....

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a result of deciding that buying citrus fruit by the case was a good idea I ended up trying a variety of recipes for juices, lemon/limeaides, smoothies that I found. One of the more interesting was a tart rosemary-infused limeade topped with club soda, it wasn't bad led me to try a variety of herbal mojitos substituting various herbs for the mint

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Victoria said...

Well, this is alcoholic, but not really something that's liable to get you plastered, so perhaps it somewhat counts: my sister's signature creation is French sparkling lemonade laced with Chambord. Yummy! (Sometimes with vodka included as well, which of course is far more likely to get you plastered.)

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Julie said...

For a while, we had the use of a friend's heavy-duty vegetable juicer. Our favorite combination: Carrot-celery-lime-apple-ginger.

I've never especially liked Chambord, although I can see how it might be nice in sparkling lemonade. Interesting sweet, mildly alcoholic dessert beverage that I do like: Two parts Stone's Green Ginger Wine with one part peach brandy. I'm told you can get Stone's in the U.S., but I had to go to Australia for my bottle. Wish I'd brought back more. If anyone finds a source of it that's closer than the Antipodes or Britain, lemme know.


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