Check-In: A Refreshing Summer Not A Beverage Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton try to get to the bottom of an age-old question: What's the best summer beverage? In the end, though, maybe the best beverage was never a beverage at all...

Check-In: A Refreshing Summer Not A Beverage

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JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of tapas, takeout and molecular gastronomy, ASK ME ANOTHER, the food show. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.



Thanks, Jonathan. How are you doing?

COULTON: I'm doing OK.


COULTON: What's new with you?

EISENBERG: You know, I'm looking for a summer beverage. I drink a lot of coffee.

COULTON: OK. What's your daily coffee intake?

EISENBERG: We have the pot going.


EISENBERG: And the pot equals out to two cups for myself, two cups for my husband and then there's just a little left that is, like, the angel's share.

COULTON: Right, the angel's share.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: And that's when you go, do you want more coffee?

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah, like, praying. No, no, no. It's for me, it's for me, it's for me.

COULTON: Yeah. Please say no.

EISENBERG: Then the day wears on, and I want a beverage. I want a break. I drink a lot of water. I want a different beverage than water. I don't like sweets. I don't like...

COULTON: Yeah. You don't want to be drinking sugar all day.

EISENBERG: I don't want to be drinking sugar all day.

COULTON: You don't want caffeine.

EISENBERG: Don't want caffeine. I can't do alcohol during the day.

COULTON: Well, one shouldn't.

EISENBERG: I've never been the - (laughter).

COULTON: You certainly can.

EISENBERG: But I'd like to say that I was like, what are some good suggestions? And instead of Googling this, I suppose, I went the other way, which - I was like, the computer will help me. The internet will solve for this.


EISENBERG: And I will put it out to some friends and fans on my Facebook page and see if anyone has a good suggestion for, like, a summer drink. Listen - hundreds of responses (laughter).


EISENBERG: I really hit a chord.

COULTON: Everybody has the same problem, I assume. Everybody's working on the same problem.

EISENBERG: Can I just give you a sampling of some wild ones?


EISENBERG: And tell me your thoughts.

COULTON: Because I will say, from this perspective, it feels like an unsolvable problem. A thing that is not sweet and not caffeinated and a good beverage doesn't exist.

EISENBERG: OK, well get this - boiled ginger root. And then wait for it to cool - very important. And then add a little seltzer to it, a little tiny bit of seltzer.

COULTON: Oh, a little ginger seltzer...

EISENBERG: A little ginger...

COULTON: ...But a ginger spritzer.

EISENBERG: How about this - half coconut water, half seltzer, garnished with a lemon, lime, orange or cucumber?

COULTON: Oh, that sounds fantastic.

EISENBERG: OK, but this is, I think, the best.


EISENBERG: This is what this person - I had no idea. They start off by saying, this is not a drink. Is that not the most intriguing response...

COULTON: I'm sold already.

EISENBERG: ...To a question about a beverage?

COULTON: Yeah (laughter).

EISENBERG: But GE makes a somewhat expensive - OK, prohibitive barrier - countertop appliances that makes ice nuggets, the really crunchy, airy ones.

COULTON: Uh-huh. I know the kind you mean. They're a little cloudy, and they're sort of like - they're almost, like, a compressed snow vibe.

EISENBERG: Yes. Exactly. And they - this person suggested that you just crunch a little soft ice all day.

COULTON: Oh, that's very cooling.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: That's very cooling.

EISENBERG: I never thought about that. I...

COULTON: No flavor there, unless you're doing it with a fruit juice or something like that.

EISENBERG: Yeah, no flavor. But I mean, the action of it, I feel like, would be - I mean, you know, not good for an audio recording, (laughter) I would like to point out.

COULTON: Yeah. Right. Right.

EISENBERG: Where you're just, like, (imitating chewing on ice).


EISENBERG: You know what else is refreshing?


EISENBERG: This show.


COULTON: This show is very - what a cool, refreshing summer beverage this show is.

EISENBERG: That's right. As chef Auguste Gusteau says, anyone can cook. And anyone can listen to a 52-minute trivia show about cooking. Today's food episode is a three-course meal that will leave you feeling stuffed. We've got chefs Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman, and from Food Network, Carla Hall and Nancy Fuller, and winner of "The Great British Bake Off," Nadiya Hussain. And we asked our listeners to send in some ingredients that you have lying around your home that you do not know what to do with. So we'll ask all of our guests to play a quick game of Food Jazz and improvise a dish based on your suggestions. So put your napkins in your laps. Let's dig in.


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