Summit Up 8-27-10: Celebrating drinks of all nations
Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column that was thinking about the olden days just recently and then, coincidentally, received a message from our old friend Cap’n Freshies. Long-time fans of Summit Up may recall Cap’n Freshies from the 1990s when he used to occasionally send in odd little missives about his doings – usually written in crayon on the backs of things like cereal boxes or vacuum bags.
So imagine our delighted surprise when we received a new note from Cap’n Freshies (written in cuneiform with lamb’s blood [so he said] on a plank of beetle-killed wood). Without further ado, here it is:
(And by the way, we don’t recall having written about celery-flavored soda recently, but we certainly don’t discount the possibility. And, we might add, this product does, in fact, exist.)
After reading your ruminations on the puzzling perplexities of Dr. Brown’s celery-flavored soda (Cel-Ray), I thought about some of my own run-ins with curious beverages in my worldly travels. I share with you here:
Summering in Thun, Switzerland a few years back, I came across a drink common in that country. I can’t recall the name, but it was essentially milk soda. Our Swiss guide, who’d put us up for the night in a bomb shelter (but that’s another story), told me they somehow removed all the fat from the milk, and also all of the stuff that makes milk white and taste like milk, then carbonated it. It did indeed taste like something that had been stripped of its soul, although the carbonation made it at least fizzy. I finished half the bottle and was so puzzled by it all that I had to lie down for a nap.
In the Maldives, the natives like a drink called “slammo,” which is one part rum, one part salt water and one part clam juice. It’s consumed out of large paper cups, and it fuelled many a wild night for Cap’n Freshies when I was over there for some esoteric Maldivian night fishing. The next day your mouth tastes like you had an orgy with a mussel bed, but it’s all good.
If you go to tourist Hawaii, you’ll be served “kava,” which is a drink made from the slightly narcotic kava root. It’s made by grinding the kava root into powder, then steeping it in water. On a recent trip to New Guinea, Cap’n Freshies hung out with some natives who prepared the drink in a more traditional manner: They sit in a circle chewing the kava root, then spit it into a bowl, which is then mixed with water. Tastes vary greatly depending on things like what people had for lunch, what toothpaste they use (if any) and even what their dental work is like. It may sound disgusting, but if you’re supping on ants, grubs and crickets, it’s the perfect accompaniment-like hot dogs and beer.
In Yellowknife, Northwest Territories last summer for a log rolling contest, men in mackinaw shirt-jacks ordered me to drink something called “moose acid.” I never figured out what was in it, but it tasted like horseradish and licorice and did indeed promote a mild hallucination that made me think the log rollers were doing ballet. Try it if you get up there; goes good with jerky.
Kumquatnick is the favored quaff of citrus workers in and around Fresno, California. They take kumquats, which are little orange-like fruits, and mix the juice with Jim Beam. I know this sounds awful-like blending scotch and tomato juice-but there’s something about it that makes this drink really sing. When the fruit pickers are fueled up enough on this stuff, they yodel the tunes to old Foghat songs then do a sort of breakdance in the dirt that has to be seen to be believed.
OK, well, we’re not sure what to make of that, but if anyone else has any good examples of odd beverages from around the world, we’re all ears and operators are standing by at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next up is a response to a column from a few weeks ago. This is an anonymous note, and you’ll soon see why:
“I am writing in response to Ms. Cockburn’s complaint about foxes urinating on her doorstep. I solved my territorial issue with a fox in my yard by collecting my own urine in a cup and pouring on the spot the fox liked to sun himself. A spray bottle dedicated to this task may work better on a doorstep.”
Well, there it is! Just whiz in a spray bottle and spritz those steps and Whammo! No foxes! Couldn’t be simpler. Why didn’t we think of that?
These past few days have been, how shall we say? … majesterial in the quality of the weather. It’s like the weather gods are smiling on us after dissing us pretty hard for a good part of the summer with rain and all that. So get out there and enjoy it while you can, cuz before long it’ll be windshield-scraping season and all that once again.
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