Like many Yale students, I spent this summer abroad, in Paris, taking a language class with the best people possible, collectively trying to enjoy the good life. A life without Dubra or Natty Ice, a life that included sunsets and drinking wine by the Seine, flaky, buttery croissants from the local boulangerie and beautiful clothes that were on sale during the July soldes. Alas, all good things must come to an end.
There is, however, one particular memory that would perhaps allow us to relive the glorious days of this summer as classes begin and the dreaded New Haven cold approaches. During my first few days in Paris, my host family, the Frachots, took me to the neighborhood potluck. I had cooked les courgettes farsi under the meticulous guidance of my lovely host mother, Catherine. After we ate, the hostess brought out an intriguing bottle of golden liquid for us to sample. At the bottom of the bottle were pieces of floating fruit and flecks of black. It was, in fact, an infused rum that she had made the other day.
The taste was exquisite — nothing like the harshness of the collegiate Cruzan and just sweet and fruity enough to taste of a sunny day on a tropical island. The burn was smooth and fiery the entire way down — as my host father, Bernard, liked to say, “like a kick in the stomach from a team of pack-horses.” When I asked her how it was made, she replied with an offhand, “très facile.”
She told me that she had poured out the top fifth of a bottle of rum and dropped in a diced mango, the seeds of a passion fruit and two vanilla beans. Then she had mixed in superfine sugar, which dissolves much more easily in liquids than regular sugar does, and let the entire concoction sit in the sun for a week. The heat from the sun helps the fruit macerate in the rum, and the end result — when all the fruit has sunk to the bottom — is a wonderful, delicious mouthful of summer past.