All Disjointed Like a Bonsai Kitten

August 28, 2007 § Leave a comment

I’m reading A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond, and I’m having some trouble with the Welsh. Does anyone out there have a quick-and-dirty pronunciation guide for me? I have no desire to learn Welsh, but the word cwm, for example, keeps popping up and I’d like some idea of how it’s said.

I read How Green Was My Valley in Summer 1996, so I have a smidgen of understanding— “dd” being pronounced “th”— but what about something like Tre’r-ddôl?

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Also, journalists! Like Richard, I am concerned with the dilution of the English language, and I especially hate over-using milquetoast words when the language is so illustrative.

Don’t just say he’s an embattled former Attorney General. Beleaguered is better, but what about fraught, bedeviled, besieged, harried, or plagued?

Vivid language, please!

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While we were in Maine, Richard and I ate at DuckFat, a restaurant run by Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh. Evans was a Food & Wine Best New Chef 2004, and runs Hugo’s, which has been lavishly praised by Gourmet Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times, et al. DuckFat is the cheaper little brother, but its menu is still quite sophisticated, and our meal was sublime start to finish. Two-thirds of it was French Belgian fries. Frankly, it’s the perfect neighborhood restaurant.

Anyway, Richard ordered one of their housemade lemon verbena sodas, and it was so sprightly and tingly and zesty and fun that I wanted to try it on a smaller scale at home. Till now, all my fresh-herb drinks were better in conception than execution*, but the lemon verbena almost-kind-of-worked. I’d still double or triple the amount, but till then, here’s a quick-and-dirty recipe.

Lemon Verbena Lemonade Concentrate
In this recipe I’ve tripled the lemon verbena I used this afternoon, so don’t triple it again. Also, this is a recipe for concentrate, to be mixed with sparkling water, or tap water, or water and vodka; whatever you like. But don’t drink it straight.

Ingredients
Six fresh lemons, rolled and juiced (about 2 cups juice)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup sugar
6 large sprigs (10-15 leaves each) lemon verbena

For the simple syrup
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar with ½ cup water and four sprigs lemon verbena and zest. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally until sugar completely dissolves. Don’t let the sugar stick to the bottom, but don’t stir too vigorously either, or the sugar will crystallize up the sides of the pot. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Cool and discard lemon verbena and zest.

For the concentrate
Pluck the leaves from remaining sprigs of lemon verbena and slice into thin ribbons. Chiffonade it, if you’re being a fancy-pants.

Once cool, combine the syrup, juice and lemon verbena. Shake or stir to combine throughly. Chill.

To finish
Pour 1-2 finger widths of concentrate into a pretty glass, and top with the water of your choice. Add ice and serve.

*An experiment executed many times with negligible results. Three cups of mint later, my tisane’s flavor was vaguely vegetal, if you concentrated on it with your eyes closed. Fresh lavender simple syrup tasted… like simple syrup. Dried lavender was much better

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