Bloody Mary.....Tomato Soup?

Feeling a little bored at home the other day (due to the situation that has bound us to our homes to prevent the spread of Covid-19), I went out shopping. Among other grocery items, I also placed a can of tomato juice into my basket thinking, "I'm going to make Bloody Mary today!" I hesitated for a while, wondering what other ingredients I needed for the savoury cocktail, then remembering that I also needed celery. Just celery.

Arriving home and checking my fridge, I stopped. There is no vodka, no Worcestershire sauce and no Tabasco (or any hot sauce whatsoever). Good thing I had some lemons, but as for spices, the cupboard was scarce. All I found was a packet of Cajun seasoning, which was a mixture of cayenne, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.

Sigh. "Now how am I going to make a Bloody Mary when I don't even have all the essential ingredients?" I thought.

As I always do in such situations, I turned on the improvisation switch in my brain and got...well...a little creative. I didn't have vodka, but I did have gin, so I guessed that that would work. How about the Worcestershire sauce? When you think about it, Worcestershire sauce is basically a fermented liquid made of a concoction of various ingredients (probably a family secret just like the formidable yet unavoidable dash of Angostura bitters in cocktails), and when you think about fermented food items in an Asian kitchen, you will immediately notice the bottle of soy sauce. It is, after all, made of fermented soy beans. I thought this would be the closest thing I could get to Worcestershire sauce, so I decided to give it a go. As for hot sauce, I had to forego it. I just could not find a substitute for it.

I cooled two glasses and cut the celery sticks to fit the glass, then added all the ingredients and stirred them together.


The verdict? Utterly devastating. A total loss and a complete failure. Plainly said, it was downright unpalatable. What was meant as a calming, savoury and almost tonic-like drink that was said to be a cure for hangovers had turned into that which seemed to be in a frenzy and where the ingredients seemed to be fighting with each other. The balance was out, there was bitterness which should not even be there (I mean, where did it come from, anyway?), and the aftertaste that lingered made it all the worse.

Trying to give a bit more justice to this drink, I went on to add more ingredients to make it, at the very least, drinkable. More lemon juice here, a bit of sugar there. The end result? It wasn't as horrible was it initially was, though I still cannot call it a success. This is the sad truth about trying new things - they sometimes fail. Well, I guess there is always a next time. Perhaps by then I would have better ingredients and a vamped level of experience in improvisation.

I handed one of the two glasses I made to my mom. Her reaction? "Hmm, soup? Cold tomato soup?" My jaw dropped.

As one of those who seldom settle for conventional, mainstream ideas, I like to "play with my food" in the sense that I love creating and trying new recipes, even if I am making the same dish only the second time. But with the exploration and experimentation of never-before-tasted recipes comes with a 50% success rate, the other 50% being, of course, the probability of failure. Admit it or not, we all have our guinea pigs (subjects who are part of our experiments and are willing to try every weird and unusual creation of ours) in our quest for the perfect recipe. In my case, I am fortunate to have a family who is willing to put up with my curious endeavours, tasting everything that I make and giving me honest feedback. For that, I am grateful. The point of trying new things is, after all, to be willing to fail, and later, to be willing to get back on your feet and to try it again and again till you hit success. Did you know that the famed Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce was a failed experiment which was left in the basement for several years before it turned into the million-dollar condiment we know today?

As for you, my appreciated readers, have you ever had such endeavours, or times when you felt that something can be done in a different way? And have you ever dared to venture into it? What is food after all, if it doesn't come with a little spice, and a pinch of salt, to bring its flavours to life. In the same sense, what is life after all, if it doesn't come with a little difference in every day, and a touch of a stumbling block on the way, that makes it worth living, makes your successes more meaningful, and makes tomorrow a day worth looking forward to. Stay positive, everyone!


TPF

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