Metro mojo strawberry champagne cocktail

How I learned to kiss in the metro

Metro mojo strawberry champagne cocktail

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in the metro or subway, and you see a couple on the platform, innocently holding hands. But when the train arrives, everyone gets in, and the doors slide shut, these two lovers are all over each other. You become a hapless witness to their slobbery kissing, the couple acting as if there were no one else around them. Or does this only happen in the Paris metro?

When I first came here to Paris, I was the kind of person who frowned on Public Displays of Affection (or maybe it was just envy). Really, they were everywhere! Lovers groping each other on the Champ de Mars lawn near the Eiffel Tower, tongue action in the Musée d’Orsay, and even these bold canoodlers in the metro. Weren’t they on their way home or at least to a hotel where their enthusiastic kissing could be shared in private?

Little sparrow

And then what I really wondered was this: how does the metro inspire such romantic behavior? It surely couldn’t be the sickly yellow interiors of some trains, or the harsh glow of those fluorescent lights that prevent you from dozing off on the way to an early-morning appointment.

With 171 rainy days per year - Paris’ best-kept worst secret! - maybe the only place that really inspires summertime romance is inside the steamy Paris metro cars. Or maybe it’s because the trains rock their way from one station to the next through long, dark tunnels. The confined space prompts budding exhibitionists into action, whereas at street level, in plain view, they’re less tempted to lock lips so enthusiastically. Or could it just be that Paris really is the most romantic city on earth, all the way down to its subterranean transportation system?

"In Paris, lovers love each other their own way." So sang Edith Giovanna Gassion in 1947, long after Louis Leplée called her the piaf, or little sparrow. Actually, the sparrow was one of goddess of love Aphrodite’s sacred symbols. Apparently sparrows are among the most sexually active birds, even if Edith Piaf sang not of lust, but of true love and tragic loss. In the song Les Amants, she reproaches Parisian lovers "without manners" which leads me to believe Piaf must have taken the Paris metro from time to time.

Kissing vortex

But I’ve come to learn that Public Displays of Affection are a natural part of living in such close concentration with others, even when they’re not meant to be public - just ask any Parisian how thin their apartment walls are! And being really, and I mean REALLY close to other people in the Paris metro is inevitable. When it’s a positive experience, I find that the perfumed proximity of rush-hour metro passengers heightens my experience of city living. But when I’m next to a guy who doesn’t know what deodorant is, I have to admit that living in a European capital, where space is at a premium, is sometimes a little too intense.

Just as intense was the case of incidental sexual harassment I experienced a few years ago in the metro: when the guy behind me reached around his girlfriend’s coif to pull her closer, he accidentally grabbed and tugged on my scarf, and I was pulled in to the lovers’ kissing vortex. A metro ménage à trois? No thanks!

City of love

But after years of first reviling and then admiring brazen lovers in Paris, I’ll admit that now I’m among the first to partake in a romantic metro interlude when the opportunity arises. Why should other people have all the fun? One summer, my man and I sat together on folding seats in a steamy metro train, headed home for the night. We held hands, and, yes, we were kissing at length, absorbed in each other’s company: those fluorescent lights didn’t matter, and we weren’t exactly admiring the metro’s décor.

Standing above us, holding the vertical bar for support, were a few twenty-something English-speakers. As our train swayed through the tunnel, I fell deeper into our kiss. But out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of the guys discreetly jabbing his index finger in the air, to make sure his friend checked us out. The friend tilted his head in the same direction as his lopsided smile, shrugged one shoulder, and said, "City of love, dude."

Metro mojo strawberry champagne cocktail

Whoever says Aphrodite also says aphrodisiac! So if the metro isn’t working your mojo, try this bubbly, fruity cocktail, which contains several aphrodisiac ingredients like strawberries and basil. And did you ever wonder where the word honeymoon comes from? In the Middle Ages, after marriage, a couple was given one month’s (or one moon’s) supply of hydromel, or honey mead, to drink. Honey is full of B vitamins, important for the metabolism and endurance.

You might have noticed that I wrote champagne, not Champagne! Please don’t buy an expensive bottle of Veuve Cliquot or Ruinart, since mixing it up with other ingredients would only waste the pure fine flavor of those beverages. Feel free to buy any old sparkling wine you find. And let me know how it tastes in the comments section below!

ingredients:
- 2 cups (200g) unhulled strawberries
- 4 tablespoons honey (or more, to taste)
- 4-5 whole basil leaves
- ¼ cup (50ml) cognac
- 1½ cups (330 ml) inexpensive chilled brut or dry champagne (or any dry bubbly)
- a handful of strawberries, raspberries, or other fruit, for garnish

how to make it:
1. Wash and then hull the strawberries. Hulling after washing is a great French restaurant kitchen trick. This process avoids water getting inside the strawberry and diluting its delicious flavor.
2. Using a conventional blender or an immersion blender, whirl together the strawberries, honey, and basil leaves to make a smooth fruit purée.
3. Combine the fruit purée with the cognac in a well-chilled serving pitcher, then very slowly pour in the bubbly.
4. Mix well, and serve in champagne flutes or the glass of your choice, accompanied by a fruit garnish.

makes 5-6 cocktails


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Tags : metro , cocktail , strawberries , champagne , romantic


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