Today is Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun! It is recognized as the day that the sun stands still. From the northern hemisphere, it appears as though the sun and moon have stopped moving across the sky. This longest night of the year is a threshold in time followed by the renewal of days filled with sunshine. There are many rituals, recipes and lore observed at this time of year and sharing food is an important part of any celebration. Baking and exchanging cookies during the winter solstice is a gesture of love and goodwill that I enjoy doing for my family and friends.
On the chilly Friday evening that I stopped in my neighborhood liquor store, Carroll Gardens Wines & Liquor, to purchase a bottle of dark rum, an ingredient called for in a recipe for Buttered Rum Melt-Aways that I got from “Martha Stewart’s Cookies” cookbook, I was in the middle of discussing with Phil, the owner, what type of rum I needed when a man walked in, smelling like he had just smoked a fresh bowl weed, and interrupted our conversation. The man proceeded to aggressively pursue me, saying that he wanted to taste whatever it was that I was making. What came next took me by surprise. Phil demanded that the aggressor leave his liquor store immediately! Phil was intolerable of the man’s strong advances towards me. The man became irate. Phil then came from behind the counter, confronted the aggressor head on and showed him to the door. This only further upset the man who angrily shouted obscenities causing the liquor store stocker to stop what he was doing to assist the owner. I frequent this store and Phil and his crew know me by name but never did I expect that they would “protect” me. Phil told me that he would have defended his own daughter or wife in the same manner. For the first time, my nomadic spirit felt “at home”.
We continued our discussion about the rum after the aggressor was off and on his way. Phil told me that Gosling’s dark rum was the original rum used in the classic cocktail, “Dark & Stormy”. On my way home I made one more stop to pick up the ginger beer so that I could make this classic while I baked the melt-aways, of which, a special batch was set aside for my friends at the liquor store. I hope the Friello family feels the same warmth I did on that “dark & stormy” night they stood up for me.
Cheers and Best Wishes!