A brief journey in thought.
|Eggnog to Naartjies
James Joyce most famously invented writing as a stream of consciousness in his books Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake. He may have been accurate in his depiction of the wandering thoughts of the human mind but, in these weighty tomes, he also wrote the two most boring books in the English language. Stream of consciousness does not have to be so mind-crushing if sensibly edited and selected.
As an example, this morning I was thinking of eggnog, a favourite drink in America and inevitably a subject of comment when talking of Christmas. My experience of eggnog is rather different from the new world variety however. Just say the word and I am transported back to my youth and a wonderful drink called advocaat*. This is a liqueur known mainly by the Dutch and, presumably because of their Dutch ancestry, the Afrikaans of southern Africa. Coming to know advocaat very well through my years amongst the Afrikaaners, it is forever the real eggnog to me.
Advocaat is a liqueur based upon egg yolks and brandy. It looks and behaves like eggnog, tastes a good deal less sweet and is extremely alcoholic. I am no fan of alcohol, considering it to taste pretty awful in most forms and having unfortunate effects on intelligence and behaviour, but liqueurs are rather different. They are smooth, powerful and, in the main, taste superb. Advocaat is one of the best.
The mention of liqueurs reminds of the Christmas I gave my father a bottle of cheap coffee liqueur. While everyone else enjoyed the festivities, we sat down and drank the whole bottle. Not tipping it up and glugging, but in a civilised manner, in small glasses and sip by sip. This took quite a long time and we were pleasantly sozzled by the end. It was a great bonding experience.
But the word, “liqueurs,” leads me on to thoughts of van der Hum**, the finest liqueur in southern Africa - or the world, for that matter. It is a nectar that disappears as it touches your tongue and carries a taste of sun-ripened citrus fruit accented by spices to be a warm, and slightly aggressive sensation in the mouth. There is nothing like it and fortunate that it is so expensive that it forms a rare treat indeed.
The citrus fruit that is the foundation of van der Hum is the naartjie (pronounced “nah-chee”). This mandarinlike fruit is grown only in South Africa and, to my mind, is the best of them all. It has a loose-fitting skin that is so easy to remove it can be done in seconds. The segments inside are easily separated so that the hands do not get soaked in citric acid. On the net, I found this description of the taste:
The taste of the naartjie can be compared to eating an orange and mandarin at the same time, both sweet and tart.***
So there we are, a brief burst of thought leading from eggnog to naartjies. The human mind is full of unexpected connections.
**van der Hum: https://www.thedrinkshop.com/item/2398/kwv-van-der-hum
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