Monthly Archives: May 2012

Gin’n’tonic – more than just a cure for malaria

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Once upon a time in the year 2004, my sister returned from her first of now countless trips to France. Like most 21-year-olds returning from their travels abroad, she was wiser and had tales to tell of the world beyond the U S of A. One practice she had adopted after her two-month stint was the custom of an aperatif before one’s meal – particularly a gin’n’tonic (or as Maureen, her adopted nanny from England would call it, a “g-n-t”). It may seem simple and uninteresting to many, but it was a cocktail that reeked of sophistication, class, and history as she told us the story of why it is the cocktail of choice for so many Brits. Some of you may know this tale, but for those still stuck in their cultural cocoon, allow me to explain.

Back in the days when the British had spread their imperial ways across the majority of Earth’s landmass, including lands plagued with malaria such as India, British soldiers needed a means to protect themselves from such deadly pathogens. Afterall, if the soldiers all died, who would enforce afternoon tea???! DEAR GOD MAN (sorry…inside joke with my sister :p )!!! So, they discovered that quinine could treat the disease, but unfortunately was incredibly bitter and distasteful. Like many things, adding a little sparkling water, sugar, lime, and gin to anything makes it go down a whole lot smoother. Thus the birth of the g’n’t!!! Now back to me.

So here my family was in 2004, sitting around our kitchen table, each with a glass filled with this sparkling crisp concoction. As the kitchen table always was the site for lively discussions about our daily frustrations, delights, and philosophical delusions, the beverage became a mainstay in the Juhl family. Much like cheese, but that’s for another blog :).

So now it’s the year 2012 and even though we don’t live together anymore, we still spend our select evenings together sitting around that old Amana table, debating life, and sipping our g’n’t’s. So, it’s no wonder that when I came over this last Wednesday night after a long and crazy day, I went straight to my parent’s fridge to grab the necessary ingredients. That’s when panic sat in…no limes or lemons. DUHN DUHN DUHNNNNNNNNNN!!! What were we going to do??? All the stores had closed. The fruit stand vendors were long packed up. But, then I had a revelation…

A month ago my sister came to town for a visit and we met up with one of our dear friends to do what every Manhattanite is doing on a Friday evening…HAPPY HOUR! As I perused the cocktail menu at Café Sprig in the Lipstick Building, my eye gravitated to a gin cocktail that included a bizarre ingredient – cucumber extract. I love cucumbers and I love gin, but together??? But then my lovely sister who freakishly operates on my same wavelength said, “I bet it’s gonna be like that “Gilmore Girls episode!”

Lorelai: “What is it about cucumber water that makes it so much more refreshing than non-cucumber water?”
Rory: “I think it’s the cucumbers.”

So I told our stunning 6’2″-Aryan waiter named Hans (well, k I don’t remember his name, but it SHOULD HAVE been Hans) that I would take a stab. And I did…twice. It was just THAT good.

So here I am now, four weeks later and in a serious state of concern. There was no way I could stomach just gin and tonic water alone. Enter my gin-cucumber revelation. Two slices of cucumber quartered and sunk in my glass later, I took a sip and had a Bogey moment, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Crisis averted and family bonding time was back on track.

Think I’m crazy??!! Grab a cuke and give it a try! If anything, at least think of the sugar you’ll save from switching to a food that is high in vitamins A, K, and C, as well as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. See – I can even make gin sound healthy ;). Take that British East India Company!

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“What was for dinner?…I forget.”

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All of us have experienced that awkward moment when we can’t remember what we ate for dinner last night.  Even worse, is when you can’t remember what you ate for breakfast just three hours ago.  This is what we have become – a nation of eating people who are so “productive” that we can even tweet, phone conference, sign documents, and book next month’s vacation all while we eat breakfast. However, we begin to veer off the road to productivity and crash towards inefficiency when our original plan for a nutritious and measured bowl of Special K turns into the Lake Michigan of carbohydrates and lactose.  Oops, guess we shouldn’t be on that phone call while pouring the box, huh?  You may reason that you are not going to eat it all, that you can say, “no”?  That would work if you weren’t currently too busy replying to inner-office emails and looking over your day’s schedule to notice that the bowl is now empty.  You have now eaten too much without even knowing it.  But, wait, again you reason that it is ok because you plan on skipping lunch.  Epic failure continues as your coworker proceeds to bust out a bag of chips and while you are Dr. Phil-ing her on her boyfriend woes, you’ve now eaten half of the bag…again, without even knowing it.  Mindless eating propelled by emotions is a guaranteed way to pack on the pounds…without even knowing it.

In the last ten years I have heard and tried all sorts of tricks to help me slow down and enjoy my meals, in an effort to then actually eat less.  Many have worked like setting the fork down in between each bite or not taking another bite until the previous one is completely swallowed (don’t judge – you know you’ve done the “two-handed shovel” before).  Recently, my friend Mariel (from So What’s Bloomin‘? ) sent me a link to a New York Times article that reinforced the dilemma of “mindless eating”, but proposed a solution I had not considered – “mindful eating”.  With food being more than just mere sustenance, this concept of literally mulling over each bite so as to have a better experience is incredibly attractive to me.  So, I gave the article a read and while I do not ascribe to any segment of Buddhism or Catholicism, these monks have got more than just beer figured out!  Take a read for yourself and if you don’t start packing your bags to head up-state to join the others in silent eating, at least you’ll have some food for thought next time you stop for a meal.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/dining/mindful-eating-as-food-for-thought.html?pagewanted=1&seid=auto&smid=tw-nytimes