today is one of those days when I could use a Pastis. So I’m drinking one.
what's a Pastis, you ask? it's what little old Frenchmen drink. It’s anise flavored (anise is similar to licorice, but not in the same culinary family) and refreshing on a hot and humid day, such as the day we are having here today in Atlanta. In the Provence region of the south of France, where my mom’s family is from, it is widely drank. Actually, I’m fairly certain that my grandfather drank it all year round, although it's technically an aperitif, which is meant to be drank before dinner.
Little old men sit in village cafés and town squares and play boules or pétanque, which is the French version of the Italian game of bocce ball, and drink a Pastis or three while the day slowly unfolds. Summer days in Provence are much like the lazy summer days in the American South. People drink in life slowly, nothing is rushed.
Most countries seem to have a licorice flavored alcohol. There’s absinthe, which I once had an icky experience with; the Greeks have ouzo, which my old boss from the Mediterranean restaurant in Florida where I worked drank constantly; Sambuca from Italy; Jägermeister from Germany, which is extremely popular with college kids in the US (Jäger and I are no longer friends since one night when I was 23 – but that’s another story). The people from Provence have Pastis, made from one part Ricard or Berger (two brands of the liquor), two parts water, and a couple of ice cubes.
I usually don’t like it during the rest of the year, but on a hot day, there is something about the cloudy diluted beverage that satisfies and quenches. You can find Ricard in any good liquor store, but the bottle I have was hauled back from Marseille, therefore having special meaning for me. i've had it a number of years, but it only gets touched on hot days, such as today.