Food and travel go hand in hand. Certain dishes can take us back to places we visited years ago. Just the other day, I made a Nicoise Salad which of course reminded us of a trip to France where we visited the coastal city of Nice and ate the freshest seafood and soaked up the sun on the pebbly Mediterranean beach. As we ate that hearty dinner salad topped with seared Ahi tuna, we also reminisced about a trip to Australia where we indulged in a similar rendition of the classic Nicoise. Our thoughts turned to the quaint, inexpensive hotel we stayed at in Port Douglas, a coastal town just north of Cairns, which had an attached outdoor restaurant that served amazingly fresh seafood for very low prices. The food was so good in fact; we ate there twice, against our "traveler code". For one of these meals, we sat at the bar and chatted with the friendly bar tender. I ordered sea scallops for the second time while in Australia and again the white firm fleshed circular mollusk that I was so familiar with had an orange colored "wing" on one side of it. From my prior experience, I knew I was supposed to eat it, but now I had the added benefit of being able to ask what the heck this was for I had never before seen a scallop like this in the states. The chef was beckoned and I was informed that it was the roe. I told him I had never seen this before and the chef alluded to the possibility that I was not buying real scallops. Interesting take, I thought, knowing this was not the case, but also finding it amazing that we had such a different knowledge and understanding of a common food, shaped by our geographical location of what we call home. And then there was the lemonade.
I was 4 months pregnant while traveling in Australia and it was an unusually hot summer in that January of 2007. Melbourne was in the middle of a 1000 year drought. While Lou was able to partake in their refreshing beers, I was looking for alternatives. Lemonade seemed to be on all the menus, but I never received quite what I ordered. I was continually getting a glass of soda, like Sprite or 7 UP. I reluctantly drank them, for lack of an alternative as ice tea was no where to be found either. It was on a bar tour in the city of Sydney that we clarified the issue. I was told by some locals that were entertaining family by taking them on the tour that lemonade IS soda. When I described the lemonade made up of lemon juice, sugar, and water that is so common here in the states, they looked confused and said they'd never heard of it. Never heard of Lemonade? I was shocked that such a common summertime drink for us Americans did not have the same reputation in another English speaking country. Perhaps they don't have lemons? Not so. My thoughts quickly turned to the fortune I could make by introducing lemonade to Australians. I figured it would be an instant hit, but then we don't buy much Vegemite either, so perhaps it is just a matter of taste. At any rate, I never pursued that business venture, but in the spirit of good will, perhaps an Aussie or two will find this post and decide to popularize this refreshing, centuries old concoction that we Americans have come to take for granted.
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
3 cups cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
Mix all three ingredients until sugar is dissolved and serve over ice.
Variations: for basil or mint lemonade, muddle a few basil or mint leaves in the bottom of a glass before adding ice and the lemon juice mixture