In tribute to the first few days of what feels like winter, here is a blog post about my favorite thing winter brings and how years ago, when I was living in Europe, I could not find it anywhere.
I had been chasing summers for a number of years but finally lost my lead in the chilling winter of 13 in East Sussex, England. I remember taking refuge in many a café, keeping warm, dressed up to my abnormally small ears in thermals and itchy wool, trying to convince myself that my red nose and rosy cheeks were from the warmth and not a persistent cold.
I would shuffle up to the counter weighed down by my layers and request with the eagerness of naivety, the best and one of the only things that makes winter worthwhile, the good ole Lemon, Honey and Ginger. But what was this? My naivety and innocence gave way to the fact that the liquid love of my life was not found across the shores of the Tasman.
After I got over my initial shock and maybe slightly dramatized disbelief directed towards the poor boy at the counter, and while I sat with my not so lemony latte, it hit me that maybe it was not just this café, maybe it was not just this country, maybe my local café back home and a handful of others in good ole New Zealand were the only ones that held what seems to be the best kept secret of hospitality.
So the search was on during my travels across the lands of Europe to find a café, which would provide me with a cuppa. But to no avail. Not Bonanza Coffee Roasters Berlin, nor Winkle café Amsterdam (although they do boast the worlds best apple pie, and not for the reasons you might think), and there was definitely no ‘citron miel gingembre’ in Paris. I think I even went as far as to bring in a shopping bag with nothing less than a lemon, a jar of honey and ground ginger into my then local cafe and attempted to flirt the creation of the drink.
The closest thing I found was a lemon and honey tea, but oh what is thy lemon without its honey and ginger, what is thou ginger and honey without its lemon? I had to face the conclusion that if Europe was a single young man he would have ticked every box on my list especially ‘ is sweet, sour and slightly tangy’. What I did conclude was firstly that the words lemon, honey and ginger sound the sexiest in the French accent, ‘citron miel gingembre’ pronounced See-ton Me-el jah-jah-umba ! And secondly, lemon, honey and gingers are infamous and underrated and thirdly, there really needs to be an abbreviation put in place for this God send of a drink. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that when life gives you lemons, add a little of a lot of honey, a smidge of ginger and a few squeezes of lemon and really you can’t go wrong.