Right now in Israel, it's hot. Not just normal summer heat but record breaking “face in front of a hair dryer” hot….upwards of 120*F in the Jordan Valley. As a friend in northern Israel posted on FB- “Hotter than Pompeii”. “Hotter than dragon’s breath”. “Hotter than a sun scorched pickle in this puppy” (I don’t even know what that means…). That makes my current 90* sound like AC... A friend that lived in Jericho for 6 years (near the Dead Sea at the lowest place on earth) told me that the highest he saw it there was 136*F in the sun. I have no grid for that and I’m totally ok with my ignorance. That said, I'd like to suggest a temporary solution from the Middle East for hot summer days… and a story.
On a toasty evening last summer, I was introducing two American friends to my Israeli friends at an outdoor café on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. We were stumbling over the drink menu trying to find something refreshing and yummy when a waitress walked by with a couple tall, bright green slushy looking drinks garnished with mint on her tray. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what was that?!?” my wide eyed and thirsty American friend exclaimed. “THAT is a limonana…” the Israelis replied, as all menus were quickly closed with a smile. There was nothing else to see… except the bottom of our empty glasses after many smiles and fun conversation.
A “limonana” is one of my favorites. I enjoy introducing it to those on our expeditions, then sitting back and watching the reactions of pleasure. It’s basically fresh squeezed lemonade with lots of fresh mint (“nana” in Hebrew) blended with ice until it's slushy. GLORY. Finish reading this, then go get the stuff to make it… and be happy.
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)
1 3/4 cups water (divided)
1 cup fresh lemon juice
3 1/2 cups ice
1 cup fresh mint leaves
6 mint sprigs for garnish (optional)
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water and sugar. Heat over medium, whisking constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Let the water cool to room temperature.
In a blender, combine the sugar water, fresh lemon juice, ice, fresh mint leaves and 3/4 cup of water.
Pulse for a few seconds, then blend for 1 minute until the ice is thoroughly crushed and the drink takes on the texture of a thick slushy. Taste, smile and cackle with glee. This recipe produces a mildly sweet limonana, which is the way I like it. Some people like it sweeter. Add sugar to taste, if desired, and blend again.
Pour into cold glasses and enjoy. You can thank me in the comments section below…
Welcome to a taste of Israel- the land of Milk and Honey… and Limonana.
Israel is real,