Even supporting as much as we can, we’ve reached a point in the COVID-19 crisis where you’re going to be eating more meals at home, and have more time to prepare them.
So it may be time to think more about home cooking. About some of our favorite foods and recipes, and immersive projects that can entertain, teach, and feed. And about some moonshot improvisations, starting here and now.
For instance, this week, I began a batch of mezcalcello.
Mezcalcello is a riff that I’m basing on my past batches of limoncello.
In making my recent batch, I tinkered with the standard limoncello formula, jumbling the equation to better suit the Southwest.
Instead of vodka or grain alcohol, I started with mezcal. Instead of white sugar, I’ll be using, after the 100 days, gratings from a cone of piloncillo, a Mexican brown sugar. And so instead of limoncello, we’ll be sipping a bracing novelty the first days of summer: mezcalcello cold out of the freezer.
What do you need for this mezcalcello? To start, you need 375 milliliters of mezcal (half a standard 750-milliliter bottle) and five lemons, each about the size of a tennis ball. In 100 days, you’ll need piloncillo and water.
Paying for lemons now, unless you’re supporting a local farm, isn’t wise. They’re growing everywhere. Neighbors may still be putting them on the edge of their driveways. This past weekend, I gleaned about 20 fat lemons not far from my house. If you can harvest similarly while maintaining proper social distancing (that is really weird to write), you should. The fragrance of them twisted off the tree is hypnotic, a brief dose of rocket fuel for your senses, memory, and imagination.
To begin at the beginning, you start by pouring your mezcal into a sealable jar that can hold 700 milliliters or more. A big Mason jar works.
Jar stored in a cool dark place, our mezcalcello will slumber until the season has changed twice.
As we shelve these lemon rinds and alcohol, we’re also locking in a few strange days, storing them away to be revisited when we twist open the lid down the road.
And so reader, I ask you to remember this moment in time that we're preserving. Remember the closures and uncertainty, the hysteria and the toilet paper, the sharp curve and the flat curve and the news of impending respirator shortages. Retain everything about the now, especially the fracturing of our food systems.
We'll be tracking changes as they happen. But I'll be intimately revisiting this early moment in 100 days, when, hopefully, we’re well on our way to the other side of this thing.
And if we’re not, hey, at least we’ll have something good to drink.