Thursday, August 23, 2007

Truth Is....Well, Little Truths and Iced Coffee, Anyway

Truth is that when I ask you readers to respond, I don't mean to say I expect you to have lots to say. IF you do, that's fine. I would never underestimate you as I think you're all a pretty discerning lot. But just getting the occasional nod from a reader lets met know that there are readers out there. And that is enough to make me want to write more for you. I already investigate dirty politicians for a living. I already try to find the lie in the well-spoken phrase. Something like this blog is more me just talking with you. I always imagine we're sitting in New York or at a bar in Texas or Iquitos, having a beer and you've asked me something. Often I delete entries because I realize the question I imagine you've asked is something I can't answer, not just with authority, but even decently. So I'm thinking of you as intimates. Like it's a round table and this blog is my turn at the table. What a wonderful thing that you give me this space. Thanks a million!
Someone, for instance, just said they didn't often have much to add to a post and didn't want to simply repeat: 'Nice writing' for fear it would sound old hat pretty soon. Fact is, I don't think it would ever sound old hat, just like I don't think standing when a woman comes to your table is ever old hat. It's simply a bit of respect and Women's Rights included, is a nice thing to do.
So by all means, please think of this as your blog too. Ask questions. I'll be honest if I don't have an answer. Most of you already know what my strong points are and where I'm weak. If you ask me how to fix a transmission, I'll have to come to your house and beat you. But if you ask what it feels like to be bitten by a baby bushmaster or have a septic wound that results from a relative of the brown recluse cleaned by riverinos using the ultra caustic ubos tree, then I'm someone who might have something interesting to say on the subject.
My goal here and elsewhere in my life is to be brutally honest: With my flaws, my convictions, my crazy life. With one codicil: I'm allowed to exaggerate my family to make a story better. But even then, I've never told you anything that wasn't true. And my invite to come to dinner if you're in the neighborhood is legit as well: Tonight we're falling back on bar-be-qued country pork ribs with grilled asparagus and a potato-egg salad. We're starting off with some cold mussels I cooked a couple of days ago and will probably include a few shrimp in vinagrette as I've got some that might go bad if we don't eat them soon. So if you're nearby, come and get it.
Which leads to this, in an odd sort of way: As a former chef---no credentials, just having run restaruants in New York City for 18 years or so and getting some pretty good write ups during that time at some of the finest joints in town, (Joint is a NYC term for bar-restaurant: A place that depends on food sales till 11 PM and liquor sales from 11 PM till 4 AM)--I grew fond of a lot of things. I grew fond of being able to get a fresh strawberry shake at 4 AM coming home from work. I grew fond of places that aged their meat till it was just rotten enough with bacteria to be tender when served raw or near raw. And I also grew fond of good Iced coffee. After I quit cocaine in 1980 I still needed something to keep me up and so Iced coffee was it. At work I'd always make my own. But to chill out afterwards while waiting for Claire, who was a waitress at different restaurants, to get off at 5 AM (an hour of cleanup after the bar closed) I had to find places that would serve good Iced Coffee. Now there is a soda sold on the east coast in 8 oz bottles that was basically just that. It was fantastic: A sugary sweet drink of strong coffee with milk and a spritz of bubbly soda water. I forget the name now though I'll probably go to hell for that because I must have drunk 10,000 bottles of it in my lifetime.
Anyway, it gave you the rush that existed before Redbull and all the copycats without the dangerous things I believe you get with those drinks.
But last week I went to one of the most venerable coffee shops in Fort Worth and ordered an Iced Coffee and the guy takes $2.87 and then gives me a cup full of ice and points me to the coffee in thermouses in the rear of the store. So there I was with a cup full of ice and a thermous full of hot Ethiopian coffee. I put some sugar and milk in the cup (I drink coffee black but take a little milk in iced coffee) and then put the hot coffee on top of it. So I ended up with a three buck cup of lukewarm, watered-down coffee. Madeleina laughed as she watched me try to drink it and spit it out from the 1994 Ford Ranger window on Interstate 35.
"What's the matter dad? Don't like the coffee?"
"Baby. How about you take this?"
She took a sip and handed it back.
"No dad. How about you take this?"
Man, that was just awful. Who the heck makes Iced coffee by pouring hot coffee over ice?
You have to brew regular coffee or expresso, then let it sit, off the heat, for a couple of hours. It can't sit in the sun. It can't cool in the fridge. Just put in in a good container-porcelain is the best--and let it sit in a cool, shady place on the kitchen counter for a couple of hours till it's cool. Then cover it and put it in the fridge. Add sugar while it's hot because neither sugar nor sweet and low will mix well with cold coffee.
Then wait a couple of hours or a day. If it's covered well it won't pick up any refrigerator smell.
Then, when you want to serve it, put the milk or cream in the bottom of the glass over ice. Then pour in the coffee. Then stir as fast as you can to try to make a bit of froth (ok to use an electric beater or stirrer or even a blender at this point if you like, and then drink. that's cold on your tonsils. And that's caffeine in your blood stream. That's true iced coffee.
And all truths are as simple as that, even if I'm not smart enough to elucidate them all. I still know truth is simple. Like good Iced Coffee.
So ask me questions. I'll give the best I got.
And thanks for being at the bar with me.


bamboo said...

The wife freezes coffee into cubes then uses the blender with cream and sugar- Really fucking nice...

Peter Gorman said...

Nice one. No shit. I'll give it a try.

The Grudge said...

All this talk about iced coffee is making me crave a mudslide or white Russian. They count as coffee right?

Unknown said...

Hey Peter,
coming every day on your blog to read you, but don't comment ... so, today, I tell you : good stuff ! as I said few posts back, if I ever have enough cash, I'll get oon one of your trip for sure, I would enjoy drinking a cold vodaka with you in Peru....
Living in Quebec, up north in the boreal forest with sleddogs and four kids, three are not mine,so I relate to some writings about how you feel ..take care !

Hummingbird said...

Okay... coffee drinks:

YES on the espresso ice cubes. You plunk THOSE into a cold coffee drink and it never gets diluted. Oh what a great thing! It has a GREAT rev with no watery weakness.

And Peter:

It is hard for me sometimes to refrain from commenting as though I know you personally, which obviously I do not. However, you DO provoke me to it at times (I'm an Irish lass, w'at can i say, Lad) yet I hold back. It's just an opinion or observation, after all. And it makes dandy energy for housework, LOL! No... seriously... I understand your need for interaction from your readers, for feedback or just plain 'contact' with us. I use the cyber waves in that same way... a kind of shamanism, if you will. It's all just vibrating energy at some level. Tap in as you will, I always say! (Smiling.)

KevBurnsJr said...

During my 12 day dieta in Tamshiyacu 1 hr upriver from Iquitos, I did a lot of cooking. Dreaming up recipes while laying in a hammock trying not to think about food.

1 banana
1 shot of espresso
1 scoop of powdered cacao
1 cup of milk
1 cup of ice

Thanks for the great stories,
Cheers :)

mags said...

In Asian markets, they sell cans of strong coffee already mixed with cream and (lots of) sugar. I chilled one and took it to a final exam in world religions. Whoa! List three ways in which Mohammed improved the lot of women? How about elaborations on eight or nine? That's just how good it is. Oh, and it costs about 99 cents!

Peter Gorman said...

This is what I like. You guys are schooling me good here. Thanks