Current Music: Robyn Hitchcock, "My Wife and My Dead Wife"
Yesterday rushthatspeaks and I made coffee syrup. It was something of an odyssey, as such things tend to be. The recipe was devised in 2010 for The Big Broadcast of 1946, but the obliging kitchen scientist mentioned in that article has since moved to New York, meaning in November I got an e-mail with brewing and bottling instructions and promptly asked the person I know who keeps a lab coat in their kitchen1 if they'd like to help out. Last week I found out the bottles needed to be special-ordered. On Monday I went out in the black ice and bought all the specialty ingredients from Homebrew Emporium, Cambridge Naturals, and Dave's Fresh Pasta. On Tuesday I found out the right kind of bottles weren't going to arrive until Thursday; I went out in the thickening storm and bought some half-liter swing-top bottles from China Fair instead. On Wednesday which I am having trouble remembering was yesterday I met Rush at Diesel Café, bought the necessary coffee from ex-Shaw's in Porter Square, bought some tongs from Tags for handling objects in boiling water and discovered that metal funnels are not the commonly available household item we had both assumed them to be. A second trip to Homebrew Emporium was in order. They were out of metal funnels, but the clerk helpfully looked up the boiling points of different kinds of sugar syrup and sold us some kind of heavy-duty plastic funnel rated for the right degree above 212°F. I am not going to discuss the rest of the procedure because it is technically a secret recipe except to say that I am impressed by Rush's facility for preparing cuts and solutions and very pleased with my ability to move heavy objects in and out of boiling water without scalding anyone and I am so glad we had a kitchen scale, because the recipe was in kilos and grams. I am not very happy about the migraine; I had suspected that it wouldn't be good for me to be around coffee fumes, but I'd thought it would just make me feel sort of ill, not destroy my ability to look at lights. A second batch needs to be made on Friday, after the correct small bottles come in, and I am planning on running the fan from the start, opening all the windows, and possibly wearing a filter mask. (It'll look very scientific. We were already wearing eye protection because we'd been warned that during the second boil the bottles might explode.2)
And what all this means is that there will be coffee syrup available for purchase tonight at the concessions stand at BB62, if you want to know what the fabled Byfar Coffee Syrup tasted like before the Beverly Beverage Company of Beverly, Mass. went out of business in 1960. I believe it will come in the form of coffee milk, although maybe if someone buys a bottle of seltzer before showtime, coffee soda will be an option as well. And this is really what I wanted. The Byfar Hour without coffee syrup is just existentially incorrect. I mean, I have no idea how the stuff tastes; I can't drink it myself.3 But it's part of the mythos. Its reality was as heavily debated as that of Frank Cyrano himself during the run-up to the first Big Broadcast in 2009. My brother liked the original formula so much that my gift to him the terrible year our grandfather died on Christmas Eve was to meet with vanguardcdk on Boxing Day to acquire some extra bottles. I have an emotional investment in a substance my body recognizes as toxic.
And if that's not inducement enough to see the show tonight and buy a glass, I don't know what could be. Come on down!
1. That is not metaphor. Rush wears a lab coat for cooking. They look fantastic in it, too.
2. They didn't; the half-liter bottles were heavy tempered glass with tops that sealed beautifully under boiling water, designed for this sort of home brewing and canning. Rush had to leave right after the third bottle went in for its final processing and nothing drastic happened at all. I am more skeptical about the small bottles with the screw-tops, which is why the safety glasses are coming back out on Friday.
3. And Rush just doesn't like coffee, which is why we beta-tested a glass of coffee goat's milk on gaudior when she arrived to pick up Rush for rehearsal. Results were favorable.