Friday, November 5, 2010
Foodstuff Friday: Seltzer — bubbly and mortal
The object of Foodstuff Friday’s affection this Foodstuff Friday is seltzer. For instance, not two minutes ago, Foodstuff Friday heard the satisfying click-whish as she opened a can of it. That seltzer water comes in cans is neither here nor there. It is seltzer, fun, an event, a tickle to the nose.
The afternoon of 9/11, as waves of office workers rolled northward from the Towers and Wall Street, we were reminded to pack in supplies. While I’ve yet to be stranded—by blackout or storm—without access to bodegas, beverages, grapefruit, snacks—considering what we saw on television we weren't taking a chance.
I was in shock as I roamed the grocery store aisles. What I ended up with—by choice and instinct—was apples, knäckebröd and seltzer.
Apples? Yum yum, sweet, cheap, filling, roughagey and famously anti-doctor.
Knäckebröd. Swedish crisp bread, aka hard-tack. I bought a classic round, like we had in my childhood. Sea captains stocked it to keep the crew fed during voyages to the British Isles where strength was needed to pillage and worse.
Seltzer? It’s water. It has bubbles, it’s fun. There’s an old New York association. Swedish is Ma. Old New York is Pa. One there was a seltzer industry with seltzer delivery. Its appeal was cross-ethnic, seltzer being an aid to digestion and safe drinking water in more iffy times.
That triad of apples, knäckebröd and seltzer represents my childhood. I am too young to have attended old burlesque halls or vaudeville theaters, but those audiences thrived on comics squirting seltzer into pants. The tradition carried into movies and t.v. Think of the Three Stooges, the Marx brothers, Lucille Ball.
There are Facts About Seltzer a person could learn but that person isn't Foodstuff Friday who knows only that there is a natural source, being springs at Niederselters, Germany, but the seltzer herein referenced is not a fancy European (of old) drink. It synthetically produced with free carbon dioxide.
Sadly, tellingly, seltzer is, like me, like you, mortal. Like us it dies, its bubbly joy fading into the great flats of Lethe or Nepenthe. I've read no reports of a carbonated Styx. Oh my dying seltzer, let me burp you whilst you live!