Okay, I know I said Italy but we've been re-routed. That’s modern travel for you. I just hope our luggage catches up.
When one of my children was about six, and she had at that point been to some pretty choice dining establishments despite her tender years, I asked her one day where she would like to go for dinner. “Can we go,” she asked hesitantly, “to the place where the golf is?” Since I was thinking about restaurants, at first I didn’t get that she meant the snack bar at the mini-golf park. “You know, the place where you tell them what you want, and then they give it to you through the window. That,” she said in a wistful tone, “is my FAVORITE kind of restaurant.”
A hundred or so years before that, I was in my 20’s and living in New York. I worked at a community organization in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and right in the middle of my route between that building and the elevated platform of the M train was a little diner with a short-order window that opened on the sidewalk. You could stop there and order a fried egg sandwich, or some chicken and rice, from the fellow on the other side of it. According to a hand-lettered sign on the window, you could also order a drink called a Morir Soñando, which roughly translates to “a dreamy death.” This was off-putting, to a degree, until a co-worker walking past with me persuaded me to try one. Reader, I married it. Lots of ice, orange juice, something milky and something from a little brown bottle that looked suspiciously like poison. The drink was delicious--kind of like a creamsicle, which I hesitate to say because I don’t even like those.
I lost touch with the Dreamy Death when I stopped working in Brooklyn, but every so often I would think about it and wonder if the little diner was still open. I was sure it was a secret recipe that belonged to the big, smiling man on the other side of the window, and was lost to me and to history by now. Then, about a year ago, it occurred to me to employ the internet on this matter. Morir Soñando turns out to be the national treat of the Dominican Republic, where it is apparently common to name foods after things you might not want to do or eat.
When you are walking from an un-air-conditioned building to an un-air-conditioned subway on a sidewalk spongy with summer heat, this is what you want. Alternatively, if it is winter and all you crave is citrus to rehydrate your body, dessicated from too much indoor air, or if you live in a citrus grove and are trying to think of just one more thing to do with the gusher of fresh orange juice spouting outside your window, you might be barking up the right tree here as well.
There are as many recipes for it as there are stars in the sky, it seems. Some of these recipes will instruct you to make a smoothie out of the ingredients. Some of them may suggest you add a truckload of sugar, and a good number of them will tell you it doesn’t matter if the orange juice is fresh or not. We all know an internet scam when we see one, right? Some people will tell you to wire a lot of money to Uganda immediately, but you don’t do that, either.
Per serving, you will need:
1c fresh squeezed OJ (you can buy it, just fork it over for the fresh stuff and refuse the carton's siren call)
a drop or two of bitters or vanilla
2-3 t of agave or simple syrup
enough ice to fill your designated serving cup
¼ c evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk)
In a jar with a secure lid, put the OJ and the the sweetener and the bitters or vanilla, along with the ice. Secure that lid and shake vigorously. Divide the ice and icy-cold juice among the serving glasses. Pour the shot of evaporated milk over top and insert a straw (absolutely essential) and serve immediately. Don't mix it. For the full creamsicle effect, let the slurping take care of that.
The fine print: Don't make it in advance, or the milk will go funny from the acid in the juice. I made a dairy-free version for a hot pal last summer using soy creamer, and I bet coconut milk would have some merit for that application as well.