fantasy foosball warm-up

Back when the FIFA 2014 World Cup was happening, Untappd was offering limited edition patches of pride to show others what you’d been tippling or as a reminder of Awesome Beer #793 sampled (perving on some of my beer-nerds’ Untappd feeds could prove this is not exaggeration). As long as you drank a beer from a country competing and checked in, it was fairly easy to get the badge, even halfway through the tournament.

At this particular time, I was three months into the part-time job of holding down a regular sleep pattern and clung onto it greedily. Alas, this meant missing live coverage of England excel at losing or be supreme in defeat. Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of professional sportsmen displaying excellent potential as thespians when brushed ever so lightly by opposing team players. Said fallen player would jump up faster than Sherwin & Liggett could iterate to their listeners that any player (player? player of what? Board games?) got a red card (if they were football commentators…).

Even if you’re a casual football watcher, you’re bound to witness one of these stunts. Refs miss seeing them constantly, regardless of where the tournament’s progressed in knockout stages. It was still going to be fun to watch the rest of the games, even if it was

My culinary prowess is rivalled only by my struggle to keep a healthy sleeping pattern. Why I would upset this balance by supporting a Kickstarter campaign for the very first issue of The Cleaver Quarterly and convince myself that I could indeed follow a recipe for  ‘Sichuan mulled beer‘, before reading the periodical seemed delusional. Previous attempts – expressionist pastiches – of Laura Calder’s mulled, spiced red wine taught me that if your base ingredients are substandard (ie. shite wine, citrus rind with globs of pith), then the end product is going to be an equally undesirable commodity. A puffed-up way of saying that I was prepared for defeat if the call to use the kitchen for warm alcoholic beverages ever piqued my interest.

However, Melbourne finally grew seriously glacial balls this year. One wintry day after coming home defeated by cold and most human beings (save the social welfare personal contact interviewer, who happened to be…nice?!), if I stuffed up this mulled beer thing, it wouldn’t matter too much, right? Screw previous kitchen failures, ha!

I thus present the dress rehearsal: creative arts or writing majors, actual football fans and culinary experts need not read on. Hopefully this pastiche commentary will grant Phil & Paul some reprieve (it should).

Advert campaign shows Pabst Blue Ribbon lager but corporation-crap-cook lone-wolf-blogger went with Australian wildcard McLaren Vale lager. Initial sip indicated its strengths and weaknesses were even, or equally as in/offensive as one another.

(…)

Oo-err, play is stopped fairly early in the game for a substitution, what?! Fresh kumquat/kalamansi rinds in, dried orange ones back to the bench. Sichuan province in China is shaking its head at this mestiza pollution! Opposing team’s coach is as livid as Sisyphus dragging boulders over cobble lanes.

(…)

First yellow card issued! It is not a good time for a toilet break or coverage is-sues. Pantry raid yields dried red berries that I’ll back against the favourite, goji berries.

Uh-oh, nasty words between opposing team players. Rock sugar missing perfectly positioned header. Palm sugar takes possession, ooh, an upset. Own goal. Palm sugar’s team is, like, totally, devo, maaate. F*ckin’ robbed. Dried red dates watching in disgust – no point hiding it, poor coach mutters to team physio. Random plum sauce meat marinade is not dried red dates, oh dear. Even with goji berries, an effort was made (soaked in a few tablespoons of boiling water to plump them up prior to tournament). Back on the bench of that same team, pomegranate molasses is making rude gestures at not being able to demonstrate an obvious recovery from knee surgery complications.

Rice wine threatens to pull sponsorship from one of the playing teams – advert poster displays their logo next to that of ‘vinegar’: yes, rice wine vinegar instead of rice wine. Subtle but costly mistake? Depends on future sponsorship/Faustian bargaining, flavours for favours. Umeshu for umeboshi? As Ali G might say fittingly, we ‘digest’.

(…) Many apologies for that break in transmission, our viewers back home missed a good deal of hyperlocal anecdotes and related psychogeographical history not relevant to the commentary, but we’re back. Mixture’s in a pot and simmering for three (or so) minutes. Now for the ladling equal quantities into two mugs – trickier than it sounds when blood sugar is at trembling-low point. Half time – the separate cinnamon-sugar mixture as sweetener is brought onto the field, mixed into the concoction to personal preference. It proves fortifying – Sichuan province, China: absolute genius at making passable alcohol drinkable, looks like this game is not going to be a draw after all! That’s the end of the coverage – back to the local commentary team. Thanks for listening, you’ve all been the pineapple of politeness, till next time.

This ‘dummy run’ was deliberate: I’d genuinely forgot to buy red dates so the plum-sludge-marinade was a panic substitution. A moment later it occurred to me that pomegranate molasses could have been more fitting. You’ll need 1-3 cans/bottles to make up 750mL of beer for mulling and various pantry-occupying spices. The sole oddity of the final product was a weird, chemical bitterness sillage atop the dominant top notes o’ cinnamon, despite using a non-reactive saucepan. The beer (pre- and post-mulling) didn’t have it, there wasn’t any pith on the fresh kumquat rinds (again, thank you Ms Calder for teaching me that the hard way when infusing white wine for summer…). Why would it smell like awful beer when it didn’t taste like it? Any consumables/products used and/or mentioned were paid for by myself, or legally foraged. In fact, I’ve chosen two different beers for future mullification, given this initial attempt was passable. These near-future gustatory/science experiments will have pictures and be documented properly. Not like above, as if it were an unfinished live art installation. Pinky-promise-swear!

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