Monday, May 14, 2012

Easy-Way Lemonade

When the mercury climbs past 70 degrees in Seattle, it’s reason to celebrate – especially after a very rainy (even by this native’s measure) spring. So this warm weekend seemed the perfect time to try this Easy-Way Lemonade.

Not to be confused with Hard-Way Lemonade (which involves the exhausting task of juicing lemons), Easy-Way seemed right up my alley. Early in the day (as instructed) I sliced the lemons, mixed them with sugar and poured over my boiling water. Five hours later, I dumped it all into a pitcher and poured a round for everyone at the dinner table.

It was cold. It was pretty, with the slices of lemon floating in their sugary juice.  It was also, sadly, bitter – the result, no doubt, of the rind and pith brining in the sugar bath for five hours. It was, indeed, lemony and fresh (and Easy!), but the bitterness outweighed any time saved.

The most fascinating thing about this recipe is not the actual recipe, but the article on the flip side. It’s a revelatory quiz from the “Sunday Woman” section of some unnamed newspaper: “Do You Have Political Potential?

Just think: Margaret Thatcher on one side and a cheater’s lemonade on the other! I couldn’t resist. As I quaffed my lemonade, I answered the Part One questions about political philosophy (Thomas Paine, imperialism), and U.S. presidential history (James Madison, the Battle of New Orleans).

At Part Two, though, I paused. Because the sexism of the quiz really started to burn me, much like the bitter lemonade. Do I base my vote on “looks and personality – though I know I shouldn’t admit this?” Could I become involved in politics if “the man I loved was fascinated by them?” (I chose: “I truly thought I could accomplish some concrete good, be of real benefit to people,” only partly because it didn’t contain italics.)

Next, I circled which political role appealed to me most, bypassing a “soigne hostess for the elegant dinners of a dashing young bachelor-senator;” and “fiery orator,” until I (finally!) landed on “first woman President.”

Finally, I had to chose my favorites from a rather abstract list of political, historical women, among them Pat Nixon, Bella Abzug and Coretta King. One name on the list had even this women’s college grad puzzled: Maxine Cheshire. (Turns out she was a Washington Post reporter about whom Henry Kissinger once said: “Maxine Cheshire’s columns make you want to commit murder.”) What the hell – I circled them all.

Happily, I aced the political and historical section (I’m on my way!), but the scoring continued on another page – a page that apparently had no tantalizing recipes on the reverse to tear out. So, sadly, I take comfort in my admiration of Barbara Jordan and Lady Bird Johnson and immense comfort in the fact that women running for office today seem to be doing so for reasons other than “meeting charismatic men. “

This is the Culinary Time Capsule at its fascinating best – a trip back to not only how the decades of my childhood tasted, but also how they behaved (italics mine, quizmaster!). The Sunday Woman of yore apparently loved luscious mocktails, the overuse of italics, and being a “back-street comfort and delight to a great man” (one of the “political” roles I did not check).

I so wish this newspaper came with a date. 1980s political icons Margaret Thatcher and Geraldine Ferraro are noticeably absent from the quizmaster’s list of women of import (“Who seems to you admirable enough to emulate?”). So too are Rosalyn Carter and Nancy Reagan – the list of political spouses ends with Pat Nixon. Is it possible this Sunday Woman is from the early ‘70s? In which case, maybe Mom wasn’t interested in the Easy-Day Lemonade at all, but in the thought of political office.

I sip my lemonade and ponder. My mind reels when I realize how far we’ve come – in the list of admirable women in politics, and the demise of such targeted but ultimately superficial newspaper sections. There was no Easy-Way – we got here through a lot of hard work and determination. I voted for Hillary – and I’ll drink to that.

Easy-Way Lemonade

Early in day:
Into large heatproof bowl or pitcher, measure 2 large lemons, thinly sliced and ½ cup sugar. Pour in 4 cups boiling water; stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate mixture until well chilled.

To Serve:
Pour mixture over ice cubes in chilled 12-ounce glasses. Garnish with additional lemon slices. Makes about 4 cups lemonade or five ¾ cup servings.

Why Don’t You …
·      Skip it, but consider running for office.

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