I have a confession to make: this heat is kicking my butt. I know how earth-shattering this must sound: A 35-week pregnant woman is being done in by a streak of 95-degree muggy days in a city that requires walking, stair-climbing and waiting endlessly for trains on airless, timeless subway platforms? You don’t say!
But my confession is really about it being bad enough for me admit it, awful enough for me to break my own rules about what I will and will not complain about: Arugula that goes bad the day after you buy it? Fair game! The weather, and how it is hot, very hot? Nope! There is no more banal topic of conversation than the air out there, so let me attempt to stop this whining in its tracks. Also not up for discussion? How long 12 blocks feels when you’re carrying a watermelon. The oven, or any oven. Sautéing. Boiling things. Eating food that is in any way heated. The sixteen things I’d like to do with the eggplants and tomatoes I’ve hauled in from the markets this week, as they all require proximity to a lit stove, and that, my friends, is also not going to cut it.
Instead, let’s talk about a good and established way to cool down — I mean, besides sticking your head in the freezer, though lord knows I’ve done plenty of that this week — and it goes by the name of agua fresca, or “fresh water”. These drinks are made from any combination of fruits or herbs, water and sugar, and always served icy cold. There’s so much to like about them: they’re gorgeously hued, but mildly flavored. They’ve got none of the syrupy sweetness of bottled fruit juices, tasting instead like the sippable fruits that they are. A good one will taste like you managed to liquefy a piece of fruit without altering it one bit, and a great one will make you forget, even temporarily, exactly how much steam is coming off the sidewalks downstairs.