Hot, Hot, Heat

It's sooo hooot!

I know, I know, it's nowhere near as hot and humid as it was last week, but I still leave work all sticky and quite grumpy from having spent the entire day fighting with clothes that insist on clinging to every inch of my body. As soon as I step out from work, the only thought to inhabit my mind is  the ice-cold water that awaits in my fridge.

It's not imported French or Italian mineral water that comes in pretty glass bottles; nor is it fizzy water that so delightfully tickles one's nose when the glass approaches one's lips... It's not recycled, filtered and bottled tap water either... It's just a pitcher filled with my city's vintage. In an effort to reduce my waste output, I pretty much gave up on bottled water, though I must confess I do still buy the occasional bottle of sparkling water -just one or two every couple of months, no more, I promise!

Granted, it wasn't really all that hard to give up the bottle: I'm not much of a water drinker. In fact, I only started to drink water when I lived in France, where water with bubbles takes up entire aisles at the supermarket. It was the bubbles that got me, and the fact that mineral water in France is a little salty... But I digress.

My long standing objection to water had always been its lack of flavour. I could not see the point of it, when tea, coffee, milk and juice fulfilled the same job and tasted so much better. I have changed my mind since then, especially now that I work in sweltering kitchens. I do feel the hydrating benefits of a tall glass of water. I know that my body needs and craves water. But my taste buds are still not excited by water. At home, I will sometimes adulterate my water with syrups and squashes, though I must say that in the midst of a killer heat wave, I don't want my water to be sweet.

Just plain water could do the trick, but now that the market stalls are overflowing, and that gardens are abundant oases, one would be remiss not to throw a little something in the water from time to time... Mint and basil usually take over the garden at this time of the summer, and I often feel overwhelmed at the sight of them on my way to the compost bin. (By mid-winter, I'm usually kicking myself for not having made enough pesto, but that is another story.) Harvesting summer herbs often seems like an endless endeavour: you pick and pick and pick, and then they just sit around, waiting to be eaten, while what is left in the garden goes on growing.

So I've partially solved my herbal glut by throwing a few sprigs in my water pitcher. It's not the end-all-be-all solution, but it is a quick fix. And I do mean quick: there is no need to let the herbs steep for hours before enjoying a refreshing glass of herbed water. The herbs impart their aroma within minutes of hitting the water. If your pitcher is already chilled, you can help yourself to a glassful more or less as soon as the last sprig hits the H²O.

It's also a good way to get rid of a few extra cucumbers you may have lying about. If you've signed up for  a CSA basket, you are probably being invaded by the cucumbers right about now. Or maybe you would prefer something sweet: if you have left-over bits of fruit sitting in the fridge, they can go in the water too.

All those bits and pieces won't keep forever in the water though, they will have to be strained out after about 3 days, but in the meantime, you will have refilled the pitcher several times, and drunk lots of tasty water.

À votre soif!

P.S. Before bringing the sliced cucumber out to the compost pile, they could have a second life as eye masks or as a soothing compress for sunburns. Or you can blitz everything, and have a tall glass of green smoothie.


  1. Love it! My tap water at college tastes like it comes straight out of the pool especially since I'm used to well water at home and I'm always doctoring it with sweet stuff. This sounds like a much better/healthier idea and the cucumbers have started to come in droves...


  2. I'm sorry to hear you're not a water person. I think it was Elizabeth David who said, à propos of olives, that they have a taste "as old as cold water", and as a water person I always preferred to think about what that said about water more than what it said about olives. I have always loved the tasteless taste of good water, which is why I can't drink tap water, it tastes like something that came out of a swimming pool. Have you thought about 18 litre re-usable jugs of spring water? That's how I ease my conscience over drinking bottled water. Various companies will deliver to your door; you can buy hand pumps and dispensing machines (including earhenware crocks). I just pick a bottle up and dump half the contents into a crock every few days (every day in this heat!). The plastic is surely leaching into the water, but what can one do? When I lived in the States for a few years you could get a tremendous kind of spring water in 18 litre glass jugs (which were also used in Quebec before being phased out sometime in the 90s I would guess). That water was the champagne of spring water, I tell you! (Please, no one tell me that there is some compelling environmental reason not to drink water from 18 litre jugs . . .).


  3. p.s. when fresh herbs are out of season ginger in water is very nice too.

  4. I actually don't mind Montreal's tap water. Left in an uncovered jug overnight, most of the chlorine evaporates away, and it tastes pretty much tasteless to me. If you're in a hurry to get your chlorine-free-ish water stirring the water vigorously will get rid of a good part of the pool smell.
    As for the 18L jugs, they're still around. They're also made of #7 plastic, which contains BPA, so you might want to avoid them until they switch to BPA-free plastic.

  5. By the way, cat (and I presume dog) owners take note: their tender little taste buds are burned by chlorine. Leaving your pet's water out for a day before serving it up, as our resident foodie suggests, would be doing your pet a huge favour.

    Years ago, my dear departed cat used to jump up on my kitchen table - otherwise not a regular habit of his - and drink out of the glass pitcher of spring water I always kept there. When I was unable to keep him from doing this, I tried giving him spring water in his bowl. Problem solved overnight. He lived to be 22 after, to my great shame, having periodically been dragged about in moving vans to live with me in various corners of the continent - Toronto, Chicago, the Midwest, Ottawa, Montreal . . .

    (Note also that tap water is now providing you, free of charge, with a full range of prescription medications, especially hormonal.)

  6. Any thoughts on the decision by the city of Montreal to ban Pamela Anderson's pro-vegetarian billboard campaign? I had to be briefed by friends on who Pamela Anderson is, I haven't seen the ad, and normally I am very keen to see the eradication of the sexism the city invokes as the reason for its decision, but I smell a rat. With all the sexist ads out there, they chose to ban this one?

  7. My theory is not exactly that it is a conspiracy against vegetarianism, as my earlier comment might have implied, but that there is a taboo against political advertising. In particular, censors don't get, or don't want to get, or pretend not to get, irony or self-spoofing, which is what this ad seems to be. They say there is too much skin; well there *is* a lot of skin, but the problem is that if you use a little less skin you can vehicle far more degrading images of women (the point being here that the image is intentionally degrading, with the model's consent, to make a broader political point, something that stretches the mass media far beyond what they are equipped to handle).

  8. You can see the ad here:

    Personally, I don't understand why the ad was banned: there are jeans ads that are more racy hanging on Montreal billboards. I think it has more to do with the fact that Montreal is a hubbub for the fur industry, and Pamela and PETA are staunchly against the fur trade.

  9. Perhaps it would be good for people to have an example of what is acceptable advertising in Montreal so they can have something to compare this to. Sorry to digress, but we're not cutting down any trees here, and people can pass over this if they like.

    The ad I'm about to describe was in a busy indoor part of one of Montreal's downtown universities for years. Thousands of people saw it every day. Apparently no one complained. I think the last time I looked it was gone, but that was surely because its time was up.

    The ad was about three feet by four and was on a wall at eye height. There was no image, just solid text, in orange against a green background.

    The ad was for the morning after pill, so I have to make clear that I have no moral or religious objections to the product.

    I've committed only about the last half of the ad to memory. It reads like a young woman speaking to a girlfriend in one long breath, and goes like this (I translate from the French):

    "and then I met this wickedly cool guy and we had a few shooters and the rest is fuzzy".

  10. Now, never mind that the advertising of prescription medication used to be illegal in Canada, for very good reason, because it gives the impression, and this ad is a perfect example, that prescription medication is some sort of lifestyle choice or consumer product like any other. Abuse of prescription medication is a huge problem in this country that no one talks about, and while I have no moral objections to the morning after pill, there are better methods of birth control. The message of this ad, however, is "don't bother with those other methods, use our product instead, it's just another form of birth control".

    Never mind also that this fictive young woman and this ad give nary a thought to the prevention of sexually transmitted disease. Haven't our public health authorities spent the past 30 years, since the outbreak of AIDS, trying to convince people that it is *not* OK to have unprotected sex with someone you just meet? But the people selling this product don't want you to think about that.

    No, the real problem here is this: Isn't this woman's description of her night out an exact account of date rape? She has too much to drink, she meets a guy, she doesn't remember anything else but she's pretty sure they had sex and she needs to do something about it. This is the lifestyle these people are selling? Holy cow.

    In fact, change the context and read her line over again. This time you're in a courtroom listening to her testimony. The man she slept with is charged with slipping a date rape drug into her drink. Fits perfectly, doesn't it? It's spooky.

    But Pamela Anderson in a bikini, oh no, that's not the image of women we want to project.

  11. I totally agree. I've never seen that ad for RU-487, but the message it conveys is rather scary. You err on one thing, though: it is not, and has never been, a prescription drug in Canada. Unlike, in the US, Canada has decided to go the way of the rest of the modern world, and does not require a prescription for the morning after pill. But I digress, Pamela Anderson, almost nude, is nowhere near as offensive as that ad.
    Ads for prescriptions drugs are still illegal in Canada, unless they are on an American broadcast or publication. Despite appearances. Let's hope it stays that way.

  12. Yes, I know it's not prescription. I didn't want to get into it, but it's a medication that *would* be prescription (ingredients etc.) if it were not for the fact that people need it on Sunday mornings when no doctors are around, so it is dispensed by a pharmacist. So while I agree it should be available without hassle or stigma, it's also an example of the increasingly easy availability of powerful medication. And one sees all kinds of direct to consumer ads for prescription drugs in Canada now, beginning with Viagra and "regular" birth control pills.

  13. Here is a seven-year-old Canadian Medical Association Journal article on the grey-area growth in prescription medication advertising in Canada. I suspect a more recent source would show that the practice has become much more prevalent in recent years.

    As for Pamela Anderson's banned ad, I think the morning-after-pill ad shows just how little people know how to decode the mass media. The people who approved that ad (the same as those who banned Pamela Anderson's) and the tens of thousands of people who looked at it were not consciously aware of (or couldn't care about) the message it was sending. Pamela Anderson's mistake was to decode her ad for us, labelling all the juicy parts, making explicit what the jeans ads' designers assume, correctly, we can identify for ourselves. Not only was her ad no more racy than jeans ads, as you suggest, it showed her, although almost nude, in a far less wanton and abject state than the ever-so-slighly more fully clothed young waifs just asking for it in the giant jeans billboards - a far more derogatory and offensive image of women than Pamela Anderson's string bikini. Now I'll shut up about Pamela Anderson, who I had never heard of until last week. But I'm glad to see Hollywood starlets, or one of them, has a brain and a heart.


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