March 2, 2015 by unclespike218
So. There are two types of really awesome, delicious food.
Both, as you’d imagine, are wonderful. But they’re also diametrically the opposite of each other.
One is comfort food…the type of food you love so much and that is so dependable and delicious that you just want to fill your mouth with it over and over again. My archetype is Annie’s alfredo shells…I could probably eat three packages of it in one sitting. And now that I think about it, I may do that sometime soon. Get nearly my whole day’s worth of calories and two days’ worth of sodium in one fell swoop.
The other is the type of food that you take one bite of, and suddenly you realize you’re in the presence of greatness. You want to savor each bite slowly and make the experience last as long as possible. The best example of this was an apricot or peach soufflé I had for dessert at some high-end Cape Cod restaurant over half a lifetime ago. I didn’t want the taste to end, but the soufflé was not huge, so I had to take my time. And that remains quite possibly the best dessert I’ve ever had – with apologies to another, similarly-themed dessert…my mom’s chocolate mousse pie.
This dichotomy can also apply to alcoholic drinks. You’ve got the basic drinks that exist to make you happy, the ones that are simple and reliable, the ones that bartenders at busy bars are happy to make for you. Rum and cokes, cranberry vodkas, Jack and cokes, 7 and 7’s, even Manhattans…they exist to taste good and to get you drunk.
Then there are the high-end drinks…the ones that are more involved, that have tastes that you may not expect, but are awesome all the same. The goal here is enjoyment, not extreme intoxication. And the ingredients are more complex, and the preparation is more painstaking. It’s these drinks that I’m suddenly interested in.
As a student in naturopathic school, my favorite classes included botanical medicine. We learned the properties of different herbs, what conditions they could be used for, and how to formulate effective tinctures and teas with them. Trouble was, many of these preparations could be downright disgusting. (Have you ever tasted echinacea or goldenseal or coptis? Repugnant.) On the other end of the spectrum were herbs like lemon balm, ginger, or geranium, the latter of which was extremely astringent, but had a pleasant strawberry/banana flavor. And coming up with herbal combinations was fun, as was getting the original herbs and making single tinctures or teas from them.
Thing is, I’m no longer in practice. Nor could I, from a practical standpoint, made tincture combinations for my patients…the single tincture bottles were too expensive, and getting patients to take herbs can be painfully tedious because of the taste factor. So years later, in celebration of my 40th circumsolar voyage, I received a plethora of books to whet my taste for all things mixological. And really, the leap from formulating medicinal combinations to formulating palatable combinations is not that great. Besides, if you take things like bitters into consideration, you can even meld the two. A bit. At any rate, it’s gonna be a fun adventure going forward.