Fennel Rosemary Soda

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The cicadas have taken over here, at least in terms of acoustics, since the first white hot day of summer back in April (really, since mid-June, but two months of a Seoul summer feels a lot longer than it sounds). We talk about yeol dae ya, or tropical nights of restless sleep, and we wake up to the sound of cicadas screaming for mates from the trees, the blazing sun already halfway up the sky.

Summer unbinds us, pushes us outdoors, provokes intrinsic hungers that are altogether different from the reliefs we seek during winter. The other night, a storm came, full of thunder claps and bolts of electric sparks. The humidity broke, and for a day, the cicadas were quiet. Our mint and basil plants have croaked of unknown causes. Could have been from heat stroke. Could have been from neglect. But they look as if they’ve been struck by lightning. I’ve killed plants before, but never have they shriveled to black leafless stems of death, poking out in every direction but straight up to the sun. The rosemary, however, is hanging on.

Cold, ripe, juicy fruits and carbonated drinks are so thirst quenching this time of year. A fennel-spiked syrup is super simple to make. Swap out the fennel for any whole spice or fresh herb if you don’t care for the flavor of anise. Adding the rosemary at the very end keeps a distinction between the taste of sweet, woody fennel and the smell of herbal, fresh rosemary as you drink.

Fennel Rosemary Soda

First, make a fennel simple syrup. Combine equal parts sugar and water in a pot. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat. Add two tablespoons fennel seeds, stir, and let steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Strain and store in a glass container, in the fridge, for one week.

Pour chilled syrup over ice by the teaspoon, depending on how sweet you want it. Fill with soda water. Add a sprig of rosemary and stir.