Friday, March 5, 2010

Lemons, Ice, and Salt

As I write this, I am trying to recover from one of the worst headaches I've ever had.

I haven't had a real doozy of a migraine in over a year, and I feel like this one is making up for lost time. Even after 3 doses of Frova, which is the most one can take in a 24-hour period without flirting with death (I do so love being prescribed a medication that lists that as one of the rare side effects) the pain is still lurking around the edges. Throughout the day today at work, I've started to move from the painful part of the migraine to the resolution phase, and the fog is starting to lift. However, just like most people after a bad stomach virus, after a bad migraine my empty stomach starts to crave some really weird stuff.

And what I am thinking about today is my mom's signature drink, which has no official name that I know of and sounds like the most disgusting concoction ever but is actually quite wonderful: lemon juice squeezed over ice with a generous shake of salt.

If it doesn't give you a stroke, it'll cure what ails you. Oh come on, like none of you ever drank pickle juice straight from the jar to get your brine on.

The scariest part is that my brine-lovin' mom did not make this drink up. It used to be a drink served (off-menu, I'd imagine) at the soda fountain of one of the corner drug stores in Barbourville. In fact, I think the first time I had it was when we were still living down there. I couldn't have been older than 3. I have a strong memory of walking around Court Square shopping at my mamaw's favorite dress shop with a styrofoam cup of this strange cocktail. I was so little I couldn't see over the counter and I slurped and slurped as the ice melted and refreshed that sour, salty taste I couldn't get enough of. I threw the cup away, eventually, but only after I had sucked it dry.

All of the women in my family love this drink. When I got old enough to make it for myself, I used to put it into some fancy highball glasses we kept around the house for company and pretend I was having an alcoholic beverage just like the ladies and gents on my soap operas. But its main purpose was as a post-illness pick-me-up. After every 24-hour stomach bug and after every severe cold that left most foods and drinks tasteless, Mom went to the store to stock up on lemons and a big bag of ice.

Based on my childhood friends' reactions to this beverage (ranging from mildly disgusted to utterly horrified), I assumed the love was limited to just the females in my family. And yet when I went away to Kentucky's Governor's Scholars program, a girl from Harlan walked into my humanities class one day sipping something out of a styrofoam cup that had other people in the class amazed.

"Ask her what she's drinking," someone said.

"Okay. What are you drinking?"

"A lemon sour." Except she said it like this: "A lemon serr."

My ears perked up.

"And what exactly is that?"

"Lemon juice and salt over ice."

The reaction in the room was not unlike the "YouTube back cyst" reaction videos.

I was thrilled to see another southeastern Kentucky native drink this stuff. And it had a name! And her instroduction to the drink was the same as mine: an Appalachian small town corner drug store soda fountain. But when I search the internets for it, I can't find anything about it, or anybody else who's ever claimed to drink it.

Perhaps with good reason; my mom and sister both have high blood pressure, and I am fairly certain years of "lemon serrs" have something to do with it.

So I'm putting this out there for anyone else who may have fallen in love with these things at their small town's corner drug store and who might be scouring the series of tubes that is the internet for assurances that they're not crazy. You're not alone. It's tough to admit you like drinking brine on the rocks, but there are others of us out here.

If you happen to stumble upon this, and know of a name or origin, do share.

And for my more regular readers...What weird "local" foods and drinks do you love but that have your friends going, "Whaaaa?"


DD said...

sounds like the Bar-vull, lemon serr is just missing a twist of lime and some tequilla.....

Cindy said...

Why not just call it a Cranky Librarian? I was searching for this drink online and yours was the first link I clicked on...and that's what I thought it was called!