I’m going to attempt to tie together several fairly disparate threads in this post, so bear with me.
After a most enjoyable weekend spent drinking cocktails in somebody else’s apartment, I decided that there was no reason I should not have the materials to make simple mixed drinks on hand at all times, because man cannot live on screwdrivers alone. So I invested some of my paltry wages in the optimistically-named “Perfect” vodka and “Stock” coffee liqueur, notable mostly for costing 1/6 as much as Kahlua while still remaining somewhat drinkable – the bottle crows “In the Tradition of Perfection” (perfection is apparently a common achievement in the world of budget liquor, which I guess makes sense if you’re not shooting high in the first place) and informs the drinker that “Distillerie Stock maintains 20 distilleries throughout the world and is recognized in over 100 countries as ‘Producers of the World’s Finest Liqueurs, Vermouths and Brandies’.” I would tell them that “20 distilleries” translates to “inconsistent product,” but to their credit, after partaking of enough of the fruits of their labor, I didn’t care anymore.
Anyway, the point is, White Russians are delicious, even when made with bottom-shelf booze. Which brings me to a rant. The White Russian has been utterly ruined by The Big Lebowski. Say you’re in a bar. You want to order a White Russian, which is perfectly understandable because the White Russian is wonderful, but suddenly, you stop short and realize that you can no longer unironically ask for the drink, because a veritable legion of twenty-somethings has decided that the most effective way to attract mates is shouting “And stay the fuck out of my beach community!” at the top of their lungs. I mean, shit, I like The Big Lebowski — I own The Big Lebowski — but as much as I may identify with the lackadaisical title character, I don’t structure my social discourse around the movie (arguably, this is because I don’t leave the house enough to have constructed a consistent social discourse, but I digress). Ever since the movie clamped its hands around the necks of the English-speaking world’s young adults in a pop culture death grip, you can’t sidle up to a bar and say “Gimme a White Russian” without running a terrifying risk of having someday yell “SHOMER FUCKING SHABBOS!!” in your ear.
No, no, that just won’t do at all.
The upshot of all this is that the White Russian has now become a drinking-at-home sort of drink, and drinking at home is optimal because it offers both all the fun of a bar (drinking) without any of the collateral unpleasantness that is part and parcel of the bar experience (other people). So it was in the course of fixing a White Russian this evening that I stumbled upon a most epic and fortuitous discovery. You see, I had previously made a run for more milk, and as I have done several times before, I failed to really pay attention to what I was buying (because milk is milk, right?) and wound up getting the Tnuvah “Al Ha-Boker” milk, a fairly new product “specially formulated for morning cereal,” which is Hebrew for “it’s thicker than normal milk and it tastes like vanilla.” I think I keep doing this because the packaging is yellow and I’m attracted to bright colors. Anyway, still oblivious to my mistaken purchase, I mixed up the White Russian and took a sip.
It was wonderful.
Imagine it. Vanilla milk. Coffee liqueur. Vodka. On the rocks. It’s like drinking a Frappuccino, except it gets you drunk and it doesn’t make you feel vaguely unclean afterwards. I think this means that I’ve inadvertently invented a new drink. I’m going to call it the “Ashkenazi.”
Delicious! I’ve had two already!
My other recent discovery is eggplant. Eggplant is as ubiquitous in Israel as suicidal driving, and it comes in almost as many interesting variants, but I’ve always steadfastly avoided it. I blame this, like most things, on my mother. My mother is an excellent cook, but her upbringing in Iron Curtain deprivation has bestowed upon her some bizarre tastes in food, and one of her favorite dishes involves the hours-long baking of an innocent eggplant, after which she removes the skin and beats the hell out of the naked eggplant with a meat tenderizer until nothing is left except a steaming gray pile of pulpy Soviet baba ganoush which makes the house smell like the gym socks of Novgorod.
It’s not her fault, she grew up deprived of Freedom, Justice and Liberty.
So understandably, coming from this background of childhood eggplant abuse, I wasn’t much into all things auberginal. But I’ve given them another chance, partly because they’re all over the goddamn place, partly because 5 million Jews can’t be wrong, except about minor issues like the intentions of struggling German artists. And I have been pleasantly surprised. Fried eggplant slices? Tasty. Sabich loaded with hummus and amba? Mind-expanding. Eggplant stewed with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes? Better than most women. Harry, my spiritual advisor in matters of food, claims eggplant is the caviar of the Jews. I’m inclined to believe him.
So what have we learned today? To be bold in your accidental experimentation, and to not let your mother’s follies stop you from living your adult life to the fullest – something every Jewish boy should take to heart.