Thursday, August 27, 2020

Luxury Hour

There is no free lunch. Delicious food's fattening. Drunken revels yield hangovers. Travel results in jet lag, sex brings STDs and/or babies, and picnicking risks Lyme Disease. We live in a zero sum world where, one way or another, we must always pay the piper.

But I've found a tiny exception. And milked it for everything it's worth.

I always liked the notion of "cocktail hour", the ritualistic imbibing of adult beverages at an appointed time. I like everything about it, really, except the calories, the expense, and the risk of perpetually cleaving one's days into "the sober part" and "the sloppy part". I've had enough WASP girlfriends to glimpse the sordid dissolution just behind the veneer of cosmopolitanism. I'll still enjoy a cocktail, thanks very much, but it's not my ritual.

Instead, I enjoy what I call "Luxury Hour".

When I announce Luxury Hour to guests, I enjoy dashing their raised hopes by informing them that the luxury's virtually insubstantial, amounting to 1.5 grams of powder plus 2 grams of hardened and lightly-sweetened bean paste. All luxury stems from foodstuffs weighing the same as 3 paper clips.

Also, it's 10 calories, total. And it's super, super healthy. Cost, at $1.50, isn't negligible, but neither is it exorbitant. How can this possibly be luxurious? Well, it is. It's free lunch. It's Luxury Hour. Follow my instructions carefully:

Buy a box or five of Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea Powder, which, as I explained here, is way, way, way higher quality than it needs to be, and, despite what seems a high price, is crazy cheap for the quality. In the multi-century annals of matcha, the current era will be remembered as the Golden Epoch, when one could enter any TJ's location and score heritage-level stuff for a mere song.

Also: buy a dark chocolate bar, 70% dark or more. Just plain chocolate, no almonds or flavorings. And buy quality. Valrhona, Lake Champlain, Cote D'or, Callebaut or Taza are acceptable. Trader Joe's bars are ok, though you'll find foreign objects quite frequently. All those famous goor-may store/Whole Foods chocolate brands are crap. Snob up!

Ok, so it's luxury hour. You'll need a shake cup. Not a blender, or smoothie-maker, or immersion thingee. You may use a matcha whisk, but I recommend a shake cup (this one's fine). Dump in a tiny sleeve of matcha powder, then 17 oz of cold water. Cover tightly and shake like your life depends on it. Remove top and drink from the cup. Do not add, like, cactus honey. Do not attempt a goddamn matchachino. You're drinking sensationally good matcha, and it's subtle, and must be thoughtfully delected.

I always marvel the same question anew: how can 1 gram of powder transform 500 grams of water into something so utterly luxurious? It's a miracle. If you're not a particular green tea fan, I'd advise you not to question whether you "like" it or not. That's not the point. This is a ritual, a sacrament, not some banal snaaaaack. Give it a week. Make it a thing. Go deep.

Once you've finished the matcha, slowly dissolve a chunk of chocolate half the size of your thumb in your mouth (good chocolate takes time to "arrive"). Then relax and unwind for a moment. Examine your state. Your ecstasy. Your bliss. You have experienced Luxury Hour.

Dark chocolate has very little sugar, so this is actually diabetic-approved. And chocolate is only caloric in quantity. And dark chocolate and matcha are healthy in all sorts of ways. My daily matcha habit brought my cholesterol down 15%. It leaves me clear-minded but never jittery (caffeine turns me into Don Knotts).

You've just eaten three paper clips worth of food, with the calorie count of celery. There's no there there, aside from the patina of luxury. You'll savor, then you'll feel guilt, then you'll remember you've eaten nothing, then you'll savor again. Ad infinitum. The feeling is perfectly summed up via the haunting song stylings of Ms. Madeline Kahn. Take it away, babe....

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