To your health!

Phil Ford

I’ve been sick — bronchitis, asthma (asthmatic bronchitis?) and the attendant fatigue, plus a bad cold, just really sick and for a long time. I’m finally starting to feel better. But not well enough to be caught up. The beginning-of-semester time is brutal enough anyway (I always think of the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan) but it’s been killing me this time around. Not whining, just saying. It’s why I haven’t been around much.


And I’m still not around much. But I feel I owe my loyal readers something, so here’s something: a new drink recipe. I made it up myself, and it’s awesome. But I don’t have a name for it; perhaps you’d like to suggest something?


1 1/2 oz. dark rum
1 1/2 oz. applejack (apple brandy)
1 oz. pale dry sherry (something decent, not bottom-shelf wino bait)
1/2 oz. amaretto
1/4 oz or so (a splash, easy does it) light overproof rum
a twist of lemon (all the way round a lemon with a peeler, taking off the rind but not the pith)

Serve over ice.

Tonight, I cook chicken. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Chicken, the most boring meat ever. What do you say when something tastes like a meaty nothing-in-particular? You say it tastes like chicken. Oh, but only chicken tastes like chicken if you’re doing it right. A truly chickeny chicken, roasted . . . a treat for the gods. And if you live in Bloomington you are lucky enough to buy chickens from Schacht farms. The Corry family, which runs Schacht farms, raises chickens in the old-fashioned running-around-and-eating-bugs way, which makes the meat taste . . . indescribable. You know how Viktor Shklovsky said that the purpose of art is to make the stone story? That means that art is supposed to make the everyday things, the stone at the side of the road that you drive every day to go to work, for example, suddenly seem unfamiliar, strange, radiating a mysterious energy that cannot be assimilated to perceptual habit. The drivetime stone is never stony; you never even see it. The drivetime chicken is never chickeny. But the purpose of art — or ethical, thoughtful animal husbandry — it to make you see it, taste it, feel it. And just art, real art, defamiliarizes what we see every day and makes it available  to our senses again, so too does good cooking make us feel the basic elemental reality, the there-ness, of food. And there is no good cooking without good ingredients.

About Phil Ford

Chairman of the Committee for the Memorial to the Victims of Modernism
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6 Responses to To your health!

  1. ttlms says:

    I may be the first poster to write that I’m disgusted by comparing the opening days of a semester at music school to the landing of the Allied troops at Normandy, but I doubt I’m the first reader to have thought it was inappropriate. You have an excellent chance of living through the day, which is more than our soldiers had.

  2. Phil Ford says:

    Is this the first time you’ve heard of someone using war as a metaphor for something arduous? Actually, it’s a movie scene used as a metaphor for something arduous. (“Saving Private Ryan” isn’t a documentary: those guys in the movie didn’t actually die.)
    I never know how to respond to comments like this — troll, excessively literal-minded, or over-sensitive? On the off chance you’re not just trying to start a fight, you can take my word for it — I’m not deprecating anyone’s sacrifice, or comparing my own small problems (which, on the balance, I wouldn’t trade for anyone else’s) to landing on the beach at Omaha. I would have assumed this was obvious.

  3. cpo says:

    To change the subject: we roasted a Chicken last night. We didn’t go directly to the farm, but did get a farm-raised, air-chilled chicken. In my experience, you really get what you pay for with whole chickens. A good roasted chicken is one of my favorite meals, and so easy to make! I’m looking forward to eating the end of it tomorrow for lunch.
    [PS It’s a movie.]

  4. rootlesscosmo says:

    It’s a little unwieldy, but my suggested name for the drink is:
    Holmes, a child has done this horrid thing!
    (Probably Horrid Thing for short–I like most of the ingredients but can’t stand Amaretto.)
    (There’s an elaborate cocktail in P.G. Wodehouse called “Tomorrow’ll be of all the year the best and most glorious day, for I’m to be Queen of the May, mother, I’m to be Queen of the May,” generally shortened to May Queen.)

  5. Ben Wolfson says:

    I note that there is nothing in that drink which is not alcoholic. Presumably it is deadly.
    (Laird’s 100-proof apple brandy is in general to be preferred to their 80-proof applejack, but in this case it might be tempting fate.)

  6. Phil Ford says:

    Rootlesscosmo wins. (And wit the first entry, at that. Impressive.) “Y’know, I’m going to mix myself a Horrid Thing” is a sentence I can easily imagine myself saying. Love the Conan Doyle backstory.
    Actually, it *is* a pretty potent drink, so the quantities I’ve listed should be thought of as guides to proportions rather than absolute values. You can probably make two bar-strength drinks with the recipe as I’ve written it. I like drinks like this, though — things like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan, which don’t have any fruit juices. Amaretto should be used sparingly, by the way — it works rather like the sugar in an Old Fashioned (and like the Old Fashioned one might wish to water this drink a little) but there shouldn’t be a pronounced almond taste.
    Hey cpo — there was supposed to be a great butcher in Austin, but I never went while I was there. I had not yet seen the chickeny light. But you’re very right, there’s no cutting corners on chickens. Though surprisingly a lot of Texas BBQ — including some the best — is made with ordinary Safeway-type meat. As I recall, only Ruby’s up by the university made a point of using pastured beef for brisket. I don’t know if it was the meat or something else, but I always thought their brisket was the best.

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