Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Filtered for Error

Nothing is quite so slow, we have found, as the unbleached coffee filter.

We use paper filters; and we like the idea of their not being bleached -- especially since some of our best-tasting cups of morning coffee have gone through unbleached filters. We like to have a liquid be filtered during our lifetimes, however. What I hit upon was to use an old metal flower frog -- I will leave that unexplained unless you are puzzled -- to press tiny holes in the unbleached filters. Many manufacturers of bleached ones do the same, albeit not with old metal flower frogs.

This speeds up the process -- which plays into the making of imbibibles of the sort more often up for discussion here. Martha and I have dingled around with the making of liqueurs, for instance. For one thing, doing so offers a way of using fruit that you have at hand but that is in a quantity too small to produce wine. As does wine, a liqueur requires of you that you take some time to sit around on your hands. Not as with wine, the separation of fruit from liquor, or liqueur, takes place at the end of the sitting-on-hands process, not near the beginning.

Which is where filtering comes in. Martha suddenly became industrious about filtering some liqueurs we started last summer, in recent days. The first she chose was elderberry: amazing, dark-cranberry, exquisitely smooth stuff. We are modest in our use of organic sugar, sometimes honey, in our liqueurs: so it comes out as not a particularly sweet drink. We have found, moreover, that what moves into the fruit is alcohol, in displacing the fruit essences. So the drink is not as strongly alcoholic as the vodka that first went into it.

There is a physical principle established by Fig Newton -- the Law of the Conservation of Alcohol in a closed system -- which perhaps will come in for discussion another time ... suffice it to say that liqueurs need not be the obnoxious, weirdly colored liquids sold at stores. They may be restfully lovely to the eye. They may be redolent of a summer season that has otherwise escaped into the past.

("Filtered for error" is a phrase remembered from Kornbluth's "Apocrypha," a story which was retitled by an editor in a rather peremptory manner, to "The Advent on Channel 12" ... although the "filtered for error" phrase apparently came from Anthony Boucher, oddly enough -- whom Kornbluth consulted -- and who was not the title-changing editor.)

Cheers ...

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