Friday, July 20, 2012

Eye-opener

Tonight's cocktail is a real allegory and everything, y'all. I even looked up the word "allegory" to ensure I remembered how to use it correctly, because it would seem that in giving birth to my children, I lost large portions of my brain, which may have migrated to the placenta or something. Maybe that explains why there's this whackadoo trend of new moms eating the placenta - possibly to regain some of that lost grey matter? Anyway, not to gross anyone out, given the foregoing, but tonight I decided to tackle the Bloody Mary.



I have never liked Bloody Marys. Everyone has always told me how much they loved them, but the drink always tasted to me like cocktail sauce with vodka. I never understood this - I like tomatoes, spices, and vodka, but this drink never worked for me. A few weeks ago, McDreamy and I went out to eat seafood, and we ordered from the raw bar, and suddenly I wondered whether this might be time for me to get over my Bloody Mary aversion. It wasn't. We were at a nice place, but my drink tasted like particularly peppery cocktail sauce mixed with vodka. I couldn't drink it, and that, my friends, is saying something.

I determined that I would figure out whether I could control for whatever was bothering me about this drink. I tried different mixers, from high-end to cheap. Yuck. I tried mixing my own, controlling for hot sauce, horseradish, acid, salt. No deal. I kept pouring out drinks, though thankfully I was at least mixing them small. Then, I started searching for Bloody Mary recipes for people who don't like Bloody Marys, and I hit the jackpot. I didn't have everything on hand to use the recommended recipe, and I didn't want to make as big a batch as called for, but I started from the basic idea and came up with this.
  • 1/2 tsp beef bouillon, dissolved in just enough hot water to dissolve it
  • 1 clove garlic (I really love garlic, but you might start with less)
  • several dashes of hot sauce (to taste)
  • a squirt of pre-prepared horseradish (to taste)
  • a splash of extra-virgin olive oil (just do it)
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • a dash of chipotle chili powder
  • a pinch of ground coriander
  • a pinch of smoky paprika
  • some ground cumin - maybe 1 tsp or to taste - hard to overdo
  • some fresh oregano leaves
  • some fresh parsley
  • some fresh basil
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • a splash of olive brine
  • 2 cups of tomato juice
I put this all in the blender to liquify, then put about 4 oz mix in a shaker with 1 oz gin and lots of ice (I added more gin to the second sample, and it worked). Why not vodka? When I tasted the mix and realized how good it was, I determined to do everything else the way the nice lady says, and she said gin.* Shake really, really well with lots of ice, pour over rocks, serve. Garnish with celery, olives, whatever you like.

This was delicious, people. I tasted garlic, cumin, herbal flavors, some acid from the lemon and tomatoes, a hint of heat, and it all just worked. Thankfully McDreamy is Cuban, so I can even have these when he's around, if he doesn't drink them all first. On the downside, I suppose I'll have to swear off of sexy vampires until the garlic wears off.

Some other time, maybe.
So, on to the allegory. When I met my ex husband, I was 22 years old and had been in school continuously for 17 years. Though I was smart and accomplished and opinionated, I was basically a lump of unformed clay. I wanted to find my place in the world and be accepted and loved, and I was willing to do all kinds of things to get that acceptance and love that I am no longer willing to do. To-wit: pretending to like things I didn't like, or pretending to continue to like things I no longer liked.


Let's take camping for an example. When my ex and I started dating, our first big romantic adventure together was to go to Hawaii and hike the Kalalau trail on the island of Kauai. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and it was a wonderful trip. I do not regret going for an instant. That trip was also my first introduction to camping. We were young, we were in paradise, and who cared if we had to sleep on the ground? Even when a mouse crawled into the tent and was shimmying up my leg so that I screamed, lunged from the tent, and did a little dance, at least it was a good story. There were guavas growing on the trees, for God's sake, and stoned-out people skinny-dipping under the waterfalls. What's not to like?

That fresh, tropical smell? It's weed. Lots and lots of weed.

Fast forward. As I got older, I grew less and less enchanted with camping. To the point where I fucking hated camping and never wanted to go ever again ever fucking ever. And yet still sometimes I went, because my then-husband would insist that it would be fun this time! Even after we had kids, I went, and more than once. Your mileage may vary, but in my experience camping with kids sucks monkey balls. Especially when they're little and eat pebbles and dirt and don't do so well sleeping through your neighbor's partying/domestic squabbles/loud sex-sweet-lord-we-can-all-HEAR-you! But even as they got older, for me, at least, it was all a matter of taking my domestic job on the road and doing it out of the back of my minivan in the rain without electricity and running water, which is even more awesome than you might imagine. And, my body is less amenable to sleeping on the ground without crippling pain, and I like showers and hot food and comfort.


I seriously love this site, even though they're not paying me to say that.
Bottom line? I have finally learned, on my "special" timeline for learning what seems obvious to everyone else, that it's OK not to like what you don't like, even if other people like it. Maybe there's a context in which you'll like it, but if not, it is what it is. And, if your preferences change? That's OK, too. Just say you don't like it. If other people have a problem with that, it's not your problem. It's better to be honest, and let the chips fall where they may.


I will say that I made an exception to my I'm-never-going-camping-again rule when Tink beseeched me, wide-eyed with fluttering eyelashes, to go on her Daisy Scout mother-daughter campout this spring, because otherwise she couldn't go. Of course I went. And for one overnight, it rocked, because at the camp area, our troop got a cabin with electricity (for blowing up air mattresses) and, no kidding, a fridge (to chill the wine we weren't supposed to have). The pit latrines were a low point, but not a deal-breaker. We did the campfire thing, got the little girls settled in, and then the mommies huddled outside the cabin with wine and corn nuts (remember those? so good with wine when you're drinking on the QT!) and bonded. It was awesome. Once a year, I can do that. Otherwise? I'll be staying in a nice hotel, sipping a mimosa with my brunch. Or maybe a Bloody Mary.


*FYI, I tried a later batch with vodka, because there's nothing I wouldn't do for my readers (hi, Mom!), and I have to say that it was completely drinkable, but not nearly as good as with gin. Just go with gin.

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