It’s been hot in New York City. So hot, in fact that I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to the word: ’sweaty’. And despite my dramatic nature, I never thought that I would in all seriousness ever utter aloud the words “I’m melting, melting” but last week I would have howled it to the moon had it promised me relief. I’m helpfully informed that this is kind of heat is “nothing” and if I hear one more person say “wait until it gets really hot” I might just pack my bags and fly back to rainy old London where I’ve been told there might not be a summer at all this year!
For those of you who live in or have been to London and have travelled on the tube, at rush hour, during a heat wave, on a train that proceeded to stall between stations, without explanation, right up until the to the point that you thought you might not get out alive- then you can commiserate with me.
But the thing that really got to me, I mean really got my blood simmering- was not the damp forehead or the clammy hands or even the realisation that I was actually very capable of producing impressively large sweat stains. It was the fact that I lost my appetite all together. THAT hasn’t happened to me since I was hospitalized with a meningitis scare when I was eight years old! I’m always able to eat- it’s something that never crosses my mind- the fact that I might be capable of sitting in front of a big sloppy plate of beefy lasagne topped with melted buffalo mozzarella and not want to tuck in- let alone have a little taste. Losing my appetite was like coming to the realization that there are an awful lot of hours in a day. Was this what the rest of my summer was going to be- day after day of being unable to put anything other than a straw in my mouth?
There wasn’t air conditioning in our airless, muggy apartment. My boyfried and I, actually believed like true tight-lipped Brits that we were tough enough to survive a New York summer without it. As confident as Red Coats in the Revolutionary War- we would defeat and conquer the Yanks! Or not….
In part, I blame him for my suffering of sleepless nights and food repulsion. “It doesn’t bother me”, he challenged, wading in a sea of his own perspiration. His father had put the idea into his head that if we put frozen ice packs underneath our pillows at night then our heads would stay cool- thus making our bodies cooler. If you decide to try this at home then I would suggest not to use hot pink coloured gel packs. On the verge of heat exhaustion, and anger exhaustion having seen the vibrant colour of our newly dyed sheets, I wasn’t in the mood to be challenged. I dragged myself up the street and handed over some damp notes in exchange for an air conditioning unit. The apartment is now blissfully cool, along with my temper and most importantly- because my life/this blog was on the line- I want food again. I’m loving each costly and bad-for-the-environment minute of my new buddy, air-con, and I think I’ll survive the rest of this summer just fine- even when it does get “really hot”.
Frozen Raspberry Mojitos
Makes about 12 (depending on glass size)
I love mojitos and I get really frustrated when I’m served a bad one. I find them kind of messy to make though so decided to make up mint syrup in advance, which can be kept in the fridge or freezer and if you’re really organised you can make lime juice ice cubes, allowing 3 tbsp juice per cube. No more muddling the mint and no more shaking in the sugar. The Raspberries are optional but a very good addition. If your glasses are big then make sure you taste before you add too much soda water.
For the mint syrup:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups worth of picked mint leaves
For the drink:
lime juice (3 tbsp per glass)
white rum (1 generous shot per glass)
seltzer water, to top off (about 50-75ml per glass)
frozen raspberries, crushed (about 6 per glass), optional
1/ Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and over a low heat, allow the sugar to melt, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Slowly bring up to the boil and let boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the mint leaves. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, before straining. (if you like the mint bits, feel free to leave in but make sure you have a toothpick handy to clean up your teeth after.)
2/ For each mojito glass, fill with ice cubes. Add a very generous shot of white rum followed by 3 tbsp mint syrup and 3 tbsp lime juice (or one lime ice cube). If you are adding the crushed raspberries, add at this stage and mix together.
3/ Top with a touch of seltzer water and check for taste. (If you are using the lime ice cubes you will need to allow this to melt before tasting.) Garnish with mint and serve.