Monday, July 11, 2011

How to keep cool when it's hot

First: shave your head. Seriously, this is the best idea I've ever had. At exactly the same moment my hair started falling out, the temperature shot up into our annual Italian Summer-on-Venus range. It's been in the low thirties for five days and no end in sight.

Second: get a cotton bandanna and soak it in water, and stick it on your now wonderfully unburdened head.

Third: enjoy the glorious coolth.

You can also make iced tea.

My friend Andrea the Artist came to spend the weekend with me and when she saw me running my normal 3pm programming, putting the kettle on and getting out the tea, she looked at me like I was mad. "You're making tea in the hottest part of the day in the hottest part of the year?"

Realising that what I was doing was, in fact, insane, I changed tack. Fortunately, she had brought me a lovely present; a brand new silicone ice tray that makes 32 nice big cubes at a time. (For the non-ex-pats: Italians, though they complain about the heat as much as the rest of us, are terrified of anything cold. They don't have air conditioning, they don't like to use fans, and they're really REALLY not into ice. You can't buy bags of ice at the grocery store, you can't get ice in your drinks and it is very difficult to get a decent ice cube tray. They'll sell these dumb little tidgy plastic trays that make ten tiny ice cubes at a time that melt in the glass in about five seconds. So having an ice cube tray that actually makes proper ice is a big deal.)

Hilary's iced tea method:


one full ball of Twining's loose Darjeeling
one bag of horrible Tetley's
one lemon, sliced
two sprigs of new mint from the balcony
about a tablespoon of sugar
filtered water.

Make about half a pot of tea. Toss in the Tetley's for strengthening. While the tea is steeping, score the lemon with the tip of a knife to release the lemon oil in the skin then slice it crosswise nice and thick. Put the lemon slices and the mint sprigs into the nice Italian ceramic jug that you bought last year at Porta Portese but haven't found much use for yet. Add sugar and about 1/2 litre of cold water from the filter jug. When the tea is steeped very strong, pour it still hot into the jug. The cool water will help prevent the jug from cracking. Stir to dissolve the sugar and spread the lemon and mint flavours around. Pour in a little more cool water to cool the rest of it. When it's luke warm, add ice and put in the fridge for about half an hour.




Anonymous said...

Of course here in the good ol' USA, even the neighbor's doghouse has air-conditioning. But it was otherwise back in the day.

Growing up near Lake Ontario, in upstate New York, the temperature in midsummer seldom reached ninety. But when it did, our mothers thought we'd perish. So I can remember when I was a little guy, my mom would bring us into the house. She'd turn on a couple of fans, draw all the curtains, and spread a huge quilt on the floor. Then, my brothers and I would strip down to our undies, and take a long summer's nap til the Evil Orb had passed to the west.

It was hard thing for a ten year old to take a nap in the middle of a summer day, but then we knew when awaking we'd get - popsicles!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

The four hour break in the middle of the day that causes nearly all shops to close in Italy is the source of great frustration to newcomers and many complaints. But most of these come in the autumn or winter for university. It's those of us who stick it out in the summer who have realised the deep wisdom in shutting everything down in the heat of the day for Riposo. I have been told that there is actually a quiet law in Italy where it is illegal to make a great deal of noise in the afternoon.

Too bad the same law doesn't apply between ten pm and six am...

Anonymous said...

You can make iced tea with cold water straight on the leaves.


Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


Don't believe you.

hyoomik said...

In some places, it is a good idea to boil the water thoroughly before making ice-cubes. Freezing does not kill nasty microbes. (verification word "fausci")
Hugo Niagarensis