Monday, September 3, 2018

Vicarity Project: Singapore


The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew

Summary: A graphic novel that won the Eisner award in 2017, this book follows the career of a fictional cartoonist from Singapore, Charlie Chan Hock Chye. Chan did not support the government’s actions after the failed merger with Malaysia in the 1960’s, and he is depicted publishing allegorical comics that criticize the government. Ultimately, it is about the ways in which art can help us to see events from new perspectives

Response: This book was a lot longer than I expected it to be, but it didn’t feel slow. It flows like a documentary and takes place in chronological order. The politics are complicated, but Liew makes them easier to follow by designing a comic series that uses animals instead of people to represent the different political parties involved. So, even if I couldn’t remember who was the leader of which party, I could easily tell from the art itself. It was a lot like Art Spiegelman’s Maus in the use of animals as characters, but because I was familiar with the history that Spiegelman was writing about, I get the allegory much better. In Liew’s book, and as a result of my own complete ignorance of the history and politics of Singapore, it was like reading a children’s history book. The animal characters helped me to differentiate between different political actors, and it was really helpful! It makes me think all history books should be graphic novels.


Chicken Rice

I read a story about how Anthony Bourdain was booed and even had things thrown at him for saying that he had never tried chicken rice in Singapore. So, that got me excited for this dish. But, I mean, the recipe I followed really was just plain chicken and rice. Like, the kind of thing you would eat if you were getting over food poisoning or the flu or something and couldn’t tolerate any seasoning. It was pretty boring and disappointing. Now, it’s totally possible that there’s a kickass chicken and rice recipe out there, but this isn’t it. I found one which looks tastier and explains a bit better what makes this dish good. It helps to make the rice using the broth from boiling the chicken, which I did not do. I am not knocking chicken and rice! It’s good! And every country seems to have their version of it, so it seems like universal comfort food. But, this project was about trying new things and having little food adventures, and this dish just didn’t meet those expectations. I should have tried something else!


A classic Singapore Sling is my cocktail of choice for Singapore. I didn't have Benedictine, which is what this recipe calls for. I substituted Chartreuse, which is also an herbal liqueur. It was very nice and refreshing cocktail!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Vicarity Project: Iraq



Cell Block Five by Fadhil al-Azzawi (available on Kindle)
Summary: This is an Iraqi prison novel, in which the main character, Aziz, is unjustly accused of being a political dissident. He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he was unjustly arrested and imprisoned. The novel follows his psychological journey from his early days of certainty that the mistake will be rectified, to his anger about such an ineffective system, to his hopeless acceptance of his fate.

Response: This novel is well written, and Aziz is likeable. He doesn’t have many distinguishing personality traits, because I think the author is trying more to convey the psychological experience of unjust imprisonment than trying to write a realistic character. After the first few months in prison, Aziz begins to have vivid fantasies about the sister of one of his fellow inmates, and he begins to have “prophetic” dreams, so the book takes a kind of psychedelic turn. It begins to follow a more descriptive rather than narrative pattern, and it kind of lost me, to be honest. I re-gained interest towards the end when Aziz begins to accept his fate and the writing returned to a more linear style. I looked up the author on Wikipedia, and it says that he has written seven volumes of poetry, which would explain the more poetic writing style. 
Interestingly, there is very little in the novel that would identify the setting as Iraq. There are one or two references to Baghdad, but by and large, it could take place in any prison anywhere. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed this book, but it’s worth reading.
Tabbouleh, Hummus and Pita, Date Balls
I pretty much just copied Sasha Martin on this one, but I used hummus instead of the red pepper sauce. I got lazy and used store-bought hummus instead of making my own, although I highly recommend the America’s Test Kitchen hummus recipe, which is crazy good.
The finished product: 

My husband’s comment on this was, “Why don’t we just get the appetizers every time?!?” This really was enough food for two people for dinner, and it’s what you would normally order as appetizers in the U.S. It was all great!
The Jallab
The cocktail inventor was inspired by Lebanon, but Jallab is also popular in Iraq, so I appropriated it.
It’s delicious!
!في صحتك

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Vicarity Project: Cote d'Ivoire

Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Climbié by Bernard Dadié (not available in digital form; checked out from Collin College Library)
This book gives glimpses into the life of Climbié, a young boy from the Ivory Coast as he attends colonial French school, and then follows him to Dakar, Senegal where he finishes school and becomes a clerk. Upon his return to the Ivory Coast, he begins to speak out against colonial oppression and is imprisoned. Throughout the novel, the author attempts to show the tension between Africans, Europeans, and the people who are caught between the two worlds.
I really did not like this book. It does not have a traditional plot, and the main character does not have any particular stated goals or desires, except the desire to go to school, which he attains in the first half of the book. The obstacle impeding his happiness is nothing in particular, but is the whole oppressive system of colonialism. There is no specific incident that occurs to demonstrate this oppression – in fact, it seemed to me that the main character achieved everything he set out to achieve, which weakened the novel’s message. In one passage, he mentions that he would have liked to have been a doctor or a teacher, but that would have required more school. He didn’t want to go to school any longer, so he became a clerk instead. This choice is presented as a personal one – it did not stem from lack of opportunity or lack of means, or seem limited by his race or social status – so I didn’t really have a lot of sympathy for the character when he talked about being “denied his childhood dreams.” It wasn’t clear what those dreams were, or why he was unable to achieve them.
To his credit, the author paints a picture of African society in which the colonial presence is always there, and which always makes things harder than they need to be, whether because of the levels of bureaucracy or the inequities in salary or the subjective enforcement of certain laws. The picture that the book presents, though, is not clear. It’s like an impressionist painting, where you can see the subject of the painting, but it is fuzzy around the edges and doesn’t have a lot of definition. Even Climbié himself is more of an impression of a person than a fleshed out character. I can’t name a single personality trait that makes him seem like an individual person.
I realized as I read along that I don’t like “impressionism” in novels, and certainly not in this one. Now that I say that, especially seeing as how one of the central themes of the novel is the poor influence of French culture on its African colonies, I wonder how Bernard Dadié would feel to hear his writing compared to an essentially French art form. In any case, I kept wanting Climbié to be a real person instead of a stand-in generic African fellow. I wanted to know WHY he came back to Ivory Coast. I wanted to know what he said and did that got him thrown in prison. I wanted to know how he felt about things, and what he wanted to accomplish in his life, and I wanted some kind of internal monologue about how frustrated he was – something to fill him out and make him seem actually human. Instead, the novel presents his life in a series of unexplained and even unrelated snapshots. One minute he’s going on strike in Senegal, and the next he’s on the ship going back to Ivory Coast – no motivation is given for the change. One minute he’s writing political pieces and the next he’s in prison. And then he’s out of prison. No details are given about the hows or whys, which I found frustrating, and I lost interest very quickly.
On the other hand, there was one particularly vivid image that stuck with me as the author described the behavior of Africans under colonialism. He compared Africans to crabs in a crab pot with a heavy bronze lid.. Every once in a while, the lid comes off, and all of the crabs scrabble all over each other trying to get a breath of fresh air or a bit of sunlight before the lid comes down again. This passage is my favorite one in the whole book, because it communicates a whole multitude of ideas: the oppression of colonialism, the desperation of the native Africans, the degradation of relationships caused by the oppressive atmosphere, and the exploitation of people and resources. Such a powerful and sad image, and a fitting one for the overarching theme of the novel.
Chicken with Egusi Sauce
The finished product: 

The website I linked above is a fantastic one to read if you want to do your own global cooking project. I consulted it constantly, although – as with my reading project – I also tried to find different recipes and/or dishes to cook since she had already done it. For certain countries, though, I just copied what she did, especially if there didn't seem to be a definitive recipe for a particular dish. Her recipes are easy to follow and always turned out great.
I used chicken instead of turkey in my version, and I used pumpkin seeds instead of melon seeds. This was during the first week of my project, and I had not discovered the African or Asian markets yet! I had no idea it would be so easy to get the melon seeds, but ah, well. The sauce was really interesting and tasty, although I have no plans to make it part of the permanent rotation in my kitchen, mostly because I have to go to a specialty market to get the melon seeds. It was easy and quick to make, and it tasted very good, so I recommend it!
I based this cocktail on a cocktail menu for a restaurant in Abidjan that I found on TripAdvisor. It is called a “Mojit’sap,” and it is a spin on a traditional mojito, but it uses jus de bissap for a splash of color. Jus de bissap is basically hibiscus tea. When I was doing the food project, I had a supply of dried hibiscus flowers that I would brew into a tea, and it was delicious. For this cocktail, I used tea bags, which were fine, but I admit they did not taste quite the same. The dried flowers had a tart taste that did not come through in the processed tea. In any case, the cocktail was delicious!
1 ¾ oz white rum
2 lime wedges
3-4 mint sprigs
¾ oz cane syrup
Fill with jus de bissap and a splash of soda for a nice fizz
Muddle the lime and mint with the cane syrup in a glass. Add ice to the glass, then pour in rum, jus de bissap and soda.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Vicarity Project: Cook Islands

Cook Islands

Miss Ulysses from Puka Puka by Florence “Johnny” Frisbie (available on Kindle)

Written when the author was only sixteen years old, this book is a memoir of Johnny Frisbie’s life as a child in the Cook Islands. She recounts what life was like on her home island of Puka Puka and describes her travels to Samoa, Fiji, and other islands in the South Pacific. The book takes places during World War II, so there are several passages in which they encounter American soldiers or take precautions against Japanese bombers. Despite their best intentions to join the war effort, the war ends before the Frisbie family is able to reach a military base.

This book is charming and eye-opening. The author has such an intimate view of the South Pacific and really made me realize how I sort of lump all of the Polynesian islands together. This author points out how they are differentiated from each other and really makes each place feel unique. At one point, she wonders what the islanders eat in Tonga. I immediately thought, “Fish and coconuts, just like everywhere in the South Pacific.” But, to her, as someone who has a deep familiarity with the region, what seem like pretty minor differences to me are what makes the food cultures distinct. It was quite an education in my own ignorance! She also describes learning the particular songs and dances to each island as well as the individual dialects, bringing each one's "soul" to life. 

The author’s youth works both for and against her. Her enthusiasm and naivete are very appealing, and her simple prose makes the book very easy to read. It is also, apparently, intended for children, and I certainly think it would be a great book for kids to read. At the same time, she skips over some of the most compelling parts of the story rather than describing them in detail. At several points in the narrative, she writes that she could write 30-40 more pages about a certain topic, but she decided not to in order to keep things moving along. Often, these comments would come just as I was getting really interested in what was happening, so I wished for just a bit more time in those areas. I also wished for just a bit more background information. I found myself constantly looking things up on Wikipedia, so perhaps in a subsequent edition, the editors will provide more historical notes to help readers have a better understanding of the context in which the author was writing.


Raro Tarati Salad

This recipe does not include amounts, so just do whatever you want, I guess!
The finished product: 

First off, let me say, buy good coconut cream. I recommend Chaokoh brand, which I have only found at Asian markets, but is totally worth the special trip. You could also buy a full fat coconut milk and instead of shaking it up so the cream mixes in, skim the cream off the top. The Trader Joe’s and Goya brands, even though they are labeled “Cream” are really more like oily coconut water. You want only the cream part, not the oily, watery part.

I used lump crab meat instead of corned beef, or “bully beef” as they call it in the Cook Islands.

This was really good. I have never used coconut cream as a dressing before, but it was very nice.


I based this cocktail on a list of produce grown in the Cook Islands that I found. There are coconuts, of course, and also passion fruit. They also grow some sugar cane, so there is rum. The perfect combination for a Passion Colada: 1 ¾ oz rum and ¾ oz passion fruit syrup blended with ice and coconut cream. Pour over ice.

Again, use a good coconut cream for this. You want it to be creamy and thick, not watery and oily. Oily cocktails are terrible. I didn’t have any Chaokoh on hand today, so I skimmed the cream off of the top of a can of Thai Kitchen coconut milk – not the best, but not bad at all!

Kia Orana!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Vicarity Project: Guinea-Bissau

The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila (available on Kindle)

A young black woman named Ndani, who has been labeled “cursed” by the people of her village, leaves her home to find a job as a house girl in the capital city. She has been told that her life will be a series of tragedies, and she is determined to prove that prediction wrong. Meanwhile, a local black chieftain has a plan to overthrow the colonial government, and a black missionary teacher plans to marry and settle down with his wife in a new town where no one knows them. The major plot events in the book demonstrate the various characters’ efforts to change their life trajectories as well as their respective failures. Although they fail for different reasons – social stigma, greed, ignorance, racist political systems, poor personal judgment – the book illustrates that failure is not the tragedy referred to in the title, but rather the “ultimate tragedy” is the loss of hope.

I found myself wishing this book had been edited differently. It is divided into three distinct parts: Ndani moving to the city and getting a job; the Regulo plotting against the colonial government; and the Teacher attempting to live a normal life. All three parts are connected to each other, but it’s not clear how until well into the book. I wish the three plots had somehow been intertwined, John Irving-style so that when you realize how they are all linked together, you get that satisfying “aha!” moment. Instead, I was just mostly confused. I became invested in the Ndani story, and after a major plot point in her story, there’s a very abrupt shift to the Regulo without any explanation of who he is or why I should care about him, or how he relates to Ndani. And then again, there’s a significant shift in time from the Regulo to the Teacher section, and it would have been nice to have better signposting or warning that the shift was occurring. Even just a subsection that labeled the parts as “Part I,” “Part II,” and “Part III” would have been helpful.

On a pickier note, there were some issues with the translation that also bothered me, although they were pretty easily overcome. There were several Portuguese words that were left in the Portuguese that really needed some kind of definition or explanation, even if the translator had to do it in a footnote. Usually, these were words to describe a role within the village community or an abstract concept. It makes sense why the translator left those words in Portuguese as there is probably no good English word to use instead. Several Portuguese words, however, were left that had an obvious English translation, and it was unclear to me why the translator did not translate that word.

This book is interesting, although I wish it had been structured differently, or at least edited so that the sections were more clearly delineated. The translation is a bit clunky, but I think the characterization and themes come across very well despite this flaw.

Folklore: Der Schakal im Feigenbaum: Und andere Märchen aus Guinea-Bissau by Dietmar Beetz

So, this book is in German, and I don’t really read German (although I read Old English, and that helps a lot!), so I muddled through a couple of these tales just to get a picture of the kinds of stories they were. They are a lot like the African-American folk tales I read for St. Kitts and Nevis: animal fables, mostly, with the trickster rabbit and also some “why the world is the way it is” explanation tales.


Jollof Rice

I read several recipes for this dish, and there are a ton of them! I think it’s one of those recipes that is very common, so basically you just put whatever you have around into it. There’s no set way to do it that is “authentic” or “correct.” Here is a link to a decent recipe:

The finished product: 
At this time, the only green chalk I had was a super light lime green which does not come across well in the photographs. I got a better green chalk later on.

Verdict: I made my version vegetarian – vegan, really – and it was really tasty. This dish is a good introduction to West African food, since it is basically food that we eat here in the US, just seasoned differently. I bought all of the ingredients at my local grocery store. It was also simple and easy to make, so I would definitely make it again.


In Guinea-Bissau, they drink a strong, sweet green tea called warga, and they are also a huge producer of cashews. So, I thought I’d do an homage to these two ingredients and make a green-tea based cocktail with cashew milk: ½ tsp matcha powder dissolved in 2 oz gin; 1 oz cane syrup; fill with cashew milk to taste.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Vicarity Project: St. Kitts and Nevis

St. Kitts and Nevis

A State of Independence by Caryl Phillips (checked out from local public library; not available in digital format)

After winning a scholarship to study law in England, Bertram Francis leaves the Caribbean island where he grew up. Twenty years later, after having squandered his opportunity, Bertram returns to the island, which has just declared its independence from Great Britain. Bertram reconnects with his family and childhood friends, but also faces their resentment and feelings of abandonment as he tries to discover how he can renew his life on the island.


I found myself really disliking Bertram – he is indecisive and completely lacks self-awareness. He’s the kind of character who, instead of making conscious choices, believes that things just happen to him. It’s ironic, because he comprehends that he must study in order to win the scholarship, for example, so he studies and then he succeeds. But he loses motivation and all of a sudden twenty years have passed. Repeatedly in the book, he makes the effort to do something, but then he sits down to rest, and the next thing he knows, he’s waking up and he has lost the opportunity to do what he had intended. Even at the end of the book, when he has realized how he has failed the people around him, and he seems ready to make a change, his state of mind is that he “wondered if later this same day he should ask…” He can’t seem to make a decision, and he flounders. He doesn’t know what to do, so he half-asses everything, and it’s infuriating! He’s not a particularly sympathetic character to me, but he’s certainly well-written and consistent.

This book is short, and it is also a quick read. Bertram’s story nicely mirrors the political situation on the island, and the reader is left with the sense that despite their newfound independence, neither Bertram nor the island will ever really be able to manage entirely on their own.

My husband and I at the beach in Nevis

Folklore: Folklore of the Antilles, French and English by Elsie Clews Parsons

There are quite a few stories in this collection catalogued under St. Kitts and Nevis. They mostly involve the trickster character Anansi, who has roots in African folklore, as well as a colorful range of other animal characters.


Stewed Saltfish, Spicy Plantains, and Coconut Dumplings

The finished product: 

This was the very beginning of the project, and I had not yet explored all of the possible grocery store options. I eventually found an Asian market that sells salted fish and so I cooked with it in some of the later dishes, but for this one, I used fresh cod and a heavy hand with the salt.

Verdict: Delicious! The dumplings were a lot easier than I thought they would be, although I am not a huge fan of dumplings in general because of the texture, so I probably would not make those again. They tasted very nice, though – I liked the coconut in them which made them more interesting than just boiled lumps of flour. The spicy plantains were great; I would definitely make those again someday. The fish was also good. It’s a pretty simple ragout-style dish, and easy to make, so it’s definitely something I would consider making again.


For these islands, I chose the classic Hurricane cocktail with three ingredients: 2 oz dark rum, 1 oz lemon juice, and 1 oz passion fruit syrup. If you can get your hands on it, St. Kitts and Nevis has their own brand of rum called Brinley Gold Shipwreck, which would be perfect to toast their beautiful country.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Vicarity Project: Switzerland



Heidi by Johanna Spyri (public domain; available on Google Books and free on Kindle)

Summary: An orphaned Swiss girl named Heidi goes to live with her gruff, but kind-hearted grandfather in a small cabin in the Swiss Alps. After a few years of living on the mountain and charming everyone she meets, she is taken to Frankfurt where she becomes a companion for a sick girl named Clara, who is confined to a wheelchair. Heidi charms the household staff (except for the formidable and aptly-named Frau Rottenmeier),  and brings liveliness and adventure into the house with her, but she becomes quite ill herself due to homesickness (which is apparently a real phenomenon. known as “Swiss sickness” because it was so common in Swiss soldiers serving in foreign countries), so she is sent home. Clara comes to visit her on the mountain the next summer and, after a month in the “life-giving mountain air,” gains the ability to walk again.

I had a picture book of this story I was a little girl, but I’d never read the unabridged version. The cover of that book had a cute little tow-headed girl on the cover. It looked something like this:


As I have now discovered, Heidi has black hair and dark eyes. All these book covers with little Shirley Temple look-alikes are completely inaccurate. 
Here are two that actually look like what the book describes: 
Heidi running around in her underwear with goats
Heidi collecting flowers in her apron with goats
I once read a funny review of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe  in which the reviewer described the book as “a giant advertisement for Turkish Delight.” If that book is an ad for Turkish Delight, then Heidi is an advertisement for goat’s milk and Swiss mountains. The Swiss characters drink goat milk constantly - sometimes two pails full per day. So. Much. Goat Milk. There are A LOT of descriptions of the mountains, the mountain air, the mountain flowers, the breezes through the fir trees, etc., etc. They are lovely and idyllic, and mountain air is the cure for pretty much every ailment – physical, emotional, and spiritual – suffered by the characters in the book.
Despite this rather idealistic view of the curative properties of alpine living, I was really impressed with how the book handled some pretty serious subject matter. Even the “villain,” Frau Rottenmeier, is given some sympathetic character development so that the reader understands that her harsh behavior stems from her own fears and narrow-mindedness, not from any kind of real malice. The gossipy village community, who have long rejected Heidi’s grandfather based on their own ignorance and misunderstanding of him, readily welcome him back into the community once they see how he loves and cares for Heidi – again, they are not bad people; they simply did not understand the whole situation.
There is one particularly touching scene in which Clara’s doctor visits Heidi on the mountain and admits that, even when surrounded by such natural beauty, he cannot overcome his grief at his daughter’s death: “Can you understand, Heidi, that a man may sit here with such a shadow over his eyes that he cannot feel and enjoy the beauty around him, while the heart grows doubly sad knowing how beautiful it could be?” While it may seem inappropriate for an adult man to seek spiritual comfort from an eight-year-old child (and I think that it is!), Heidi responds by quoting a hymn, and the doctor finds some spiritual comfort in the words. In this scene, the mountain is not a cure-all, but it is a place of beauty and solace, where one may find oneself closer to God by being close to nature.
All in all, Heidi is a lovely book with strong spiritual themes and multiple stories of redemption and healing. It was written in 1880, which no doubt explains some of its more saccharine elements and its insistence on the health benefits of mountain air.  
That being said, I think Switzerland is the first place I remember being absolutely stunned by a sunset. I was 6 or 7 years old when I went for the first time, and even at that young age, I knew it was special. It really is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Johanna Spyri was not wrong.
My mom, brother and me in Switzerland, ca. 1985


Swiss-Alpine Folk-Tales, re-told by Fritz Müller-Guggenbühl, translated by Katharine Potts, Oxford UP, 1958.
I actually renewed my library card in order to get this one. I had a $.30 fine from 2009, which is why my name was still even in the computer system. “The city never forgets,” the librarian said. Indeed.
The tales  in this volume are particularly pre-occupied with milk products and often revolve around the making of and/or wasting of cheese. For example, in one tale called "The Alp that Disappeared," a wealthy man paves the rocky path up the mountain with goat cheese so that his girlfriend’s fancy shoes will not be ruined. This is considered a sign of sinful excess and a waste of good cheese, and the man’s own mother (who is starving at the bottom of the mountain while he is paving roads with cheese) prays that he will be punished. A giant hailstorm comes and buries the mountain in ice, which explains how the Blüemlisalp is now covered in glaciers. In another tale, an old woman named Nidelgret (“Cream-Margaret”) is discovered to be using witchcraft to produce a full pail of fresh cream every day. When she is caught by a local cowman, her cabin floods with cream and turns into a milk-white rock in which they both remain imprisoned to this day.


I’ve had lots of people ask about my food project and tell me I should have blogged it. I took photos of all our meals, but I regret now that I did not blog about it while I was doing it. So, here are my recipes and recollections:
I did my best to find recipe sources that came from people who actually came from the country in question. I would read several recipes and choose the one I liked the best, or combine several of them into something that looked both appealing and authentic. I would also try to find recipes that my phone’s recipe app could recognize, then I would make any edits I felt were necessary and still have the recipe available in my phone when I was trying to cook. So, the recipes that I post will not always be EXACTLY what I made, but they are decent approximations.
Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (Pan-Fried Veal with Mushroom Sauce)
This recipe calls for veal kidneys, which I just omitted from the recipe. We are not big on organ meat in the US, and I wasn’t even sure where to buy that. I also substituted pork loin for the veal, which was much less expensive (the recipe recommends pork loin as a substitution).
Rösti (Potato Fritters)
For the rösti, I used butter instead of goose fat – we are also not big on eating goose in the US, much less frying things in their fat.
Verdict: Delicious! This was a great dish to start my world cooking project. It was not something I would normally cook at home, but it was not totally foreign either. I would definitely make the geschnetzeltes again, but I would make a simpler side. Just some boiled fingerling potatoes with butter and parsley would be great, and a lot less work!


The legend goes that St. Bernard rescue dogs in the Swiss Alps would carry tiny barrels of brandy around their necks for the poor, frozen wanderers they were rescuing to fortify themselves with. 
Apparently, some “real historians” have called B.S. on that story, but they are absolutely no fun. I’m defying those naysayers by suggesting a brandy cocktail to represent Switzerland in honor of these brave pups. 

The classic cocktail uses 2 oz of Brandy, ½ oz orange Curacao, and 2 dashes each of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters. For a really Swiss take on the cocktail, you could replace the bitters with a few dashes of Alpenbitter, an herbal digestif from Switzerland. My local store did not carry Alpenbitter, so I used French brandy, the Italian orange-based liqueur Aperol (like Campari, but sweeter), and a dash or two of a German herbal liqueur called Aromatique (similar to Fernet Branca) to encompass Switzerland's three languages.