A provocative view of all that is food

French-Pressing My Luck

In Gluten Free, Healing Foods on April 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

My throat feels like it’s being attacked by microscopic beasties pelting sand at it and happily crunching the sand beneath their beastie-microscopic feet.

*Clears throat.*

Okay, that just brought on more sand by the microscopic beasties. Needed something to remedy this.

I don’t get bad spring allergies as some people do, but with the off-the-charts pollen counts and amount of dust, smog, and lack of humidity this time of year in Atlanta, even I’m prone to some nasal drip and scratchy sore throat. This morning, I’m enjoying some French-pressed chai yerba mate with creamed/whipped honey and milk. It’s helping tremendously!

French-pressing is pretty old-school. There are some great machinery out there that makes terrific brews for coffee and tea, but I find French-pressing great in terms of easy-clean-up, quick brewing time, and mostly, flavor. From what I’ve heard and read – French-pressing allows you to have some wonderful volatile oils from your tea or coffee that like to dance on your tongue, but since you’re not overly boiling or brewing, you keep the coffee or tea from releasing too much tannin, which causes a bitter, astringent taste and can bring enough acidity in your belly to make you feel pretty horrible later.

I find joy in pouring my bag of loose tea or coffee into my French press, all the while watching steaming hot water swirl the leaves around and letting it steep while I’m fixing something else to eat. After you get a satisfying color of the brew a few minutes later, something about mashing the plunger down to unify all the grinds together makes you feel momentarily that you’ve cleared your own soul and mind into absolute simplicity.

I discovered the joy of real honey as a pre-teen. A family friend went to France and brought back home some lavender honey. Even over a decade later I can still remember biting into the artisan bread that was lightly toasted and drizzled with the lavender honey. The nutty grains of the bread with the earthy floral scent of the honey pretty much made me envision a sunny day out in rolling lush fields. A mouthful of sunshine.

I was hooked.

Something honestly awakened in me – it was as though this was some amber-colored glorious gift from the Gods. It really is a gift from nature, if you think about it. Previous to that occasion, I had your regular squeeze-bear grocery store honey or stuff in packets from McDonald’s to pour over my pancakes. What a difference – I had NO clue.

On a nutritional note, raw honey (note: not processed honey or honey-flavored corn syrup like you would find at fast food restaurants) has trace nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and minerals which help your health and immunity.

I usually find and use local raw honey; today I’m enjoying some Cox Honey Farms’ natural creamed honey.

http://coxhoney.com/index.html

Creamed honey, as it suggests, is very creamy and spreadable with the amount of air whipped into it. The whipping process keeps the sugar crystals from forming and locking together, which makes honey so wonderfully sticky, but creamed honey has a bit of a different experience on your tongue than regular honey. I find both kinds, regular honey and creamed, absolutely decadent.


Wait, wait wait….What was that funky word? Yur-buh whaaa?

Okay, more about Yerba Mate.

It’s not Australian like you’d think. It’s not catnip for Koalas or anything that you may be thinking. It’s actually South American in origin, pronounced with a weird mixture of ‘s’ and ‘ch’ sounds in the beginning.

No, you won’t sound like a Clingon. Okay, maybe REMOTELY like an old woman from Long Island cursing you out with Yiddish terms. Try it with me:  SCHERE-bah MAH-tay.

Good job :).  Now go drink some.

No? Don’t know what the heck it is? Well, here you go:

Some links about yerba mate – it’s SUPER good for you, and easier on the stomach than coffee:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_mat%C3%A9

http://guayaki.com/mate/130/Yerba-Mate.html


Okay, so it’s good for me, does it TASTE good?

In terms of the flavor of yerba mate: some people liken it to green tea with the earthiness of coffee, but it’s nowhere near as grassy like green tea or as darkly ‘thick’ and murky and earthy like coffee.  It has a mellow flavor that is great, with nowhere near the regular astringency of black or green teas.

FunnyFoodie…you keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

100 points to you if you’re a Princess Bride fan.

What do I mean by astringent? Think of a super dry, possibly cheap wine – it makes your tongue feel like it’s been dipped in rubbing alcohol to the point you have no idea if you can even produce any saliva to moisten your mouth. THAT is astringency.

Yerba mate can be mixed with other herbal teas, sweeteners and milk/cream just like tea or coffee can, and tastes wonderful hot or cold. You get about the same amount of caffeine as coffee without jitters and stomach lurching or acid-inducing lava burning, but see above for French-pressing coffee – French-pressing usually prevents some of the lava craziness. I love both tea and coffee, but truth be told – nutritionally, mate scoffs at both coffee and green tea with how many body-healthy chemical compounds and cancer-preventing properties it has. A definite winner of a drink. I say, definitely add it in your repertoire of stuff to imbibe on a daily basis.

You can take my word for it – or you can pretend you’re a fabulous Argentinian basking in the sun at the equivalent of a local hip coffee shop and go sip some yourself. I always feel happy and like a million bucks afterward.

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