Prophylaxis Of Evil

With the wet, semi-cold weather comes the familiar scratchy-throated, fatigued feeling of impending sickness. We all have our various folk remedies. Mine centers around immediate and prolonged sleep, and has been known to include (in extreme cases) swabbing the throat with cut garlic cloves and cotton swabs dipped in tabasco sauce. Recently, though, when a couple of fingers of good whiskey neat don’t seem quite enough, I’ve been playing around with the storied combination of booze, honey, citrus, and hot water.

I have this old bottle of Slivovitz in the cupboard that belonged to my Grandfather. He died 15 years ago, so it should be clear that I don’t drink a lot of Slivovitz. I use it in desserts sometimes, like glazes for tarts or whipped cream. He used to put it in tea with lemon as a cold remedy. The brandy is Serbian, but he was from a shtetl in Poland. (The glass was his, too, which is why it’s so scratchy). And since I have a bottle of umeshu in the fridge, it seemed worth messing with the idea. And then there was the bottle of yuzu juice.

So: very simply, a mixture of the two boozes–one sweet, one not–with a pour of yuzu, hot water, and a big spoon of honey to stir it all together. Plummy, sweet, with that bright resinous yuzu tang–it hit the spot. I added some lemon peel for laughs, and next time I think I’ll put a smashed hunk of ginger in the water while it heats for extra medicine and flavor. I’m not sure what to call it, though.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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