Saturday, May 9, 2015

Lemon, Mint and Ginger Barley Water - more refreshing than a faceful of camel slobber...

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There is something about an instruction that starts Don’t … that incites my beloved to do the exact opposite. Don’t… is what got him to sit on the Pope’s throne at the Palais des Papes in Avignon. (I vanished into a passing tour group while security charged in his direction.)  Don’t… has inspired exits though alarmed doors, garnered speeding/parking tickets, missed ferries/flights. Don’t get me started!

His mother lived in one of the Woburn Abbey estate cottages deep in the English countryside and she organised tickets for us to visit the Abbey's safari park. I began to fret when I saw the list of Don’ts:

DON’T Open Car Windows;
DON’T Leave Your Car;
DON’T Antagonise the Lions;
Just DON’T, Ok!

There were just too many DON’Ts for him to handle.

Straight away he lowered the car window (Don’t Open Car Windows) and blew a loud raspberry at a passing camel. In a Jurassic Park moment, the camel’s very large face filled the open window and the creature cast disdainful eyes at the offending human before raspberrying right back. It was a most impressive raspberry and was accompanied by about half-a-gallon of camel spit. There is probably a sign somewhere that says Don’t Laugh Your Ass Off at the Bloke Covered in Camel-Slobber.

All that laughing makes you thirsty. What is needed for such an occasion is an appropriately restorative beverage. What could be more “English countryside” and restorative than Lemon, Mint and Ginger Barley Water. This is a glorious glassful of summer at any time.

For about 4 servings you will need…
100g pearl barley, washed
Juice and grated zest (yellow part only) of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon grated ginger
50g honey
1 litre of fresh water
a large bunch of mint

To serve
sprigs of mint
thin slices of lemon and fresh ginger
sparkling water / tonic water / sparkling white wine to dilute

Place all the ingredients – except the mint – in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes without a lid. You want the liquid to reduce by half.

Lightly bruise the bunch of mint and place in a heatproof jug. Strain the liquid over the mint and allow to cool. When cool, transfer to a glass bottle, seal and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Dilute to taste and serve over ice with a large sprig of mint and slices of lemon and ginger. I like to add bubbles – sparkling water, tonic water or sparkling white wine are all good.


Use the juice and peel of 4 limes in place of the lemon.
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