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rum Archives - Benjamin Caro

Benjamin Caro

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Hipcooks class

After realizing I was living next to the Best Thai grocery store in Los Angeles, I decided it was time to make use of it. Scouring the net, I found the Hipcooks “Thai Two On” cooking class (Their most popular class was “Thai One On,” but after cringing every time I read the name, I just couldn’t do it). Luckily class seemed geared toward culinary idiots like myself, so I grabbed my friend Rosey, we strapped on our aprons and wrong-turned our way downtown. (Rosey is definitely the name of the girl you want to put an apron on and take to a cooking class with you. If you don’t have a friend named Rosey, Suzy, Judy, or possibly Joyce will do).

What did I learn? I learned how to make my roommate uncomfortable by filling my pantry full of bottles of fish sauce, galangal spice, and a massive block of tamarind, all of which I have little plan but the best intentions for. So far, everything tastes great in eggs. (Except the tamarind, which I’ve been pulling apart and eating raw). But really, you should read the article on LA Weekly where you might learn a bit about the class rather than a bit about my avant-garde home eating habits. Really, I’m ahead of my time.

  A few classmates pretend they're okay with using their pinky fingers to taste things.
A couple of my classmates pretend they’re okay with using their pinky fingers to taste things.

Since spices are so prominent in Thai cooking, we spent a lot of time slaving over a massive mortar and pestles to grind up the raw ingredients, looking like an army of miniature apron-wearing Gandalfs. The food turned out delicious:

By far the best dish was the Chiang Mai sausage skewers, ground pork patties seared into compact, little sausage shapes. Another highlight was the Thai me up! rum cocktail, a bright, creamy concoction of mint, coconut milk, ginger beer and a secret weapon, vanilla bean paste, more raw and flavorful than vanilla extract.

Chiang Mai "sausage" skewers
Chiang Mai “sausage” skewers. Just look at that sear. Look at it.

Really, I was blown away by those little sausage guys. The sear provided a delightful crunch which lent itself to a fatty, complex flavor reminiscent of salty-sweet potato chips. Check out the full article for more details on the class, as well as a recipe for a rum drink so good you won’t even mind that it’s called “Thai Me Up! rum cocktail.”

 LA Weekly – “Hipcooks: Where to Make Friends, and Cook For Them (Recipe)”

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Farmers tap the pajarete fountain.

Farmers tap the pajarete fountain.

After learning about the modest parajete, a rustic yet legendarily sumptuous concoction of instant coffee, cocoa, sugar, tequila, and unpasteurized frothy cow milk (squeezed straight from the udder to a cup), I was inspired by Mexican farmers’ use of booze to get their usual morning energy boost. With starch squarely in crosshairs, high protein buzz foods like egg-whites, spinach, and chicken breast are the usual go-to breakfast recommendations health writers tend to recommend, so it was damn cool to hear about these farmers, whose workdays are eight times as taxing, skipping the protein and heading straight for sugar, caffeine, alcohol and, of course, warm, raw fat. Here’s an awesomely DIY video of the process complete with killer rock soundtrack. Squirt away, guys:

I wanted to know where else in history has booze kickstarted the day. After some snooping, I uncovered monks, soldiers and even cold, impoverished (and maybe lucky) children who used some combination of drink to wake themselves up in the morning. Check out the LA Weekly article to get some ideas for tomorrow morning:

Karsk
“Put a coin in a cup. Pour on coffee till you can no longer see the coin. Pour on alcohol till you can see the coin again.” These were the instructions used by the residents in the Norwegian Bohuslän district as early as 1795 to make one of the most popular drinks of the time. Russian moonshine is traditionally used because of the small amount of aftertaste, but it’s also drunk with vodka. The name comes from the Old Norse adjective karskr, meaning healthy, vigorous or agile, the three things most of us won’t be if we follow the recipe literally.

More booze here.

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