Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bring On The Bubbly

While I was in Europe, I became an agua con gas afficianado. That's right. I've become a sparkling water drinker. I'm fairly ashamed of this. Drinking sparkling water is so Euro. Also when I was a kid, I thought sparkling water tasted like dinosaur pee or like water with an aspirin dissolved in it, and I hate to go back later and admit that I am wrong. Worse still, I've become a total tool by actually favoring Perrier over all the other brands out there. If I was going to go for a sparkling water, I should go for a good old American brand like Calistoga, which I'm sure our cowboys drink. Well, our cowboys in Aspen.

I've become so obsessed with Perrier that these days you'll probably find me liplocked to one of those curvy green bottles. Pellegrino, the other bastion of Euro water coolness, is always a good fallback choice. But in Perrier, I can really appreciate the aggressiveness of the bubbles. They just feel like they have so much more ooompf to them and dare your palate to conquer them. In fact, I took a small bottle of Perrier and a small bottle of Pellegrino home with me one day to do a showdown between the two and conduct some science. I wanted to test their bubble strength (clearly I have too much time on my hands). So I shook up the Perrier bottle as hard as I could and held it above the sink while I gingerly twisted the cap off. Water came spraying out as soon as I started twisting, spraying me and my whole kitchen counter, giving both of us a decent soaking. Then I did the same thing with the Pellegrino bottle. Pellegrino's performance was pitiful. Hardly any effervescing from the Italian seltzer water. If you need a bottle of water for a water fight, go with the overpriced curvy green French stuff.

Both Pellegrino and Perrier are mineral waters, which I suppose literally means dirty water that hasn't been cleaned yet. But it's those extra sulphites and salts and whatever else that add that extra special tasty or therapeutic something to these waters. So taste is another important quality. Both taste pretty good. The bubbles though taste finer and smaller in Perrier. I also used some guidance from Jeffrey Steingarten's chapter on water where he actually decided to make his own great-tasting water by buying an alphabet soup from the periodic table and mixing them with distilled water. Then I also came across the guidelines for what is apparently the preeminent water festival in the world held at Berkeley Springs. This quote taken from their handy guidelines stood out to me.

An aftertaste of wet dog or sucking on a wet band-aid is decidedly NOT desireable.

Uh....is that the water they drink in hell? What water tastes like that? Ew.

I also learned some stuff about tonic water because in Spain, they drink a lot of that stuff straight up. I learned, for instance, that tonic water is water with Quinine added to it, owing to tonic water's origins as a medicinal solution to things like malaria, not that I ever would go trekking the jungles of Africa with nothing but tonic water in my bag. Tonic water makes me want to gag. I can't stand tonic water, and wouldn't consume it unless I was dying of thirst on that creepy island in Lost and the Others were holding a gun to my head.

So after an afternoon of experimentation on sparkling water, I was left standing in the kitchen, mineral water drying from my t-shirt, satisified with the results of yet another one of my selfless acts to educate the public. I'm also starting to think of more ways to make my experiment more scientific. Maybe I should involve lightning somehow. Lightning always makes science more fun and cool. Good science always needs a good jolt of electricity.

Sidebar: I am dying to get one of
these. Wouldn't that be so cool? My own sparkling water spring from my own faucet. I could bottle it and call it TCho H2O.


tim said...

Okay... I work in food retail... and one of the things I sell is water... AND I don't do experiments like that...

Oh, you should try Gerolsteiner. Supposedly, it is the best but the effervesence is not as aggressive as Perrier.

g8s said...

San Benedetto Acqua Frizzante was the Poland Spring of Italy when I was there, and I highly recommend it, although it's not as common here.

Anonymous said...

From Jayne: So what happens if you put Mentos into Perrier? (Search the web for mentos and diet coke movies: their mixture is amazing!) There are devices that can be purchased to purify water (see REI). I like the idea of TCHO H2O - maybe that could be TCH2O :-).