There's a culinary dilemma that I've been puzzling over for some time. That time you had that transcendent dish, that transporting plate of carpaccio de boeuf in the little brasserie in Paris, did it really taste that good? Or were you in such an elevated, travel-induced euphoria that you merely convinced yourself that this truly must be the finest thing you've ever tasted? There are lots of things that one eats when traveling through some traditional foreign culture and "discovers," then brings home stories and memories of. Many is the traveler who returns from Peru with a story of ceviche better than anything you've ever had. On the anthropological research website "Stuff White People Like," they offer a quote about this phenomenon at that supposedly white cultural practice, the dinner party. "If you are able to bring a particularly rare dish from this culture, you will be the star of the party. To seal the deal, be sure to explain as much as you possibly can about the dish: history, availability, and the proper way to eat it. Every white person at the party will be taking mental notes."
I was thinking about this today as I finished a Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray celery-flavored soda, supposedly a Jewish/Brooklyn thing along the lines of an egg cream. I think it's about as Jewish as banana cream pie, but at least it's got a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge on the can. It's not bad, but it got me thinking about all the weird stuff I've been drinking lately. And then I thought "but it's not nearly as weird as when Chris brought that gazpacho in a box to a party in Madrid, along with a bottle of vodka to make Bloody Marias." And that was not nearly as weird as the drink that we had as we hung around Pamplona with college kids. I have no idea how those guys spelled it, but I've seen in spelled kalimotxo, pronounced CAL-ee-MOTE-cho. This was super-cheap red wine purchased in "bricks," or little lined cardboard boxes, mixed half-and-half with Coca-Cola and poured over ice. I guess it's a real tradition there in Navarra, Spain.
And I thought "is there any way in the world I would have drunk this stuff if I weren't traveling?" And I didn't just drink it, I loved the stuff! It tasted great. I couldn't get enough.
I haven't got up the nerve to try it here stateside, but I bet if I did, it'd be the world's worst drink.