June 14, 2011

The makings of tafia

SOME PASSING YACHT invited Old Wotsisname on board and gave a him a drink called tafia. Now he’s raving about it and wanting the recipe.

By a stroke of luck I have an old book that describes the makings of tafia, which is the West Indian Creole name for rough rum, often applied to any drink by the crews of old sailing ships.

Here’s the recipe from the French sailor and cook, Florence Herbulot, in that admirable book, Cooking Afloat.

“The first essential is a bottle of good white rum. Next, you need an empty bottle, an attractive-looking bottle, with a really good stopper.

“Each time you open a tin of fruit in syrup, pour any surplus syrup into the bottle. Do not waste a drop! When the bottle is half full of syrup, add the juice of a lemon (or two if they are small) and fill the bottle with rum.

“Do not worry that it will take too long to half-fill the bottle with fruit syrup; it is surprising how much you get out of one tin. The variety of flavors that go to make up a tafia in one of its great merits; it never turns out the same twice, but is always excellent. You will be proud of it, believe me!”

Well, thank you Florence. I suspect that it’s people living aboard yachts, especially passagemakers, who will be opening cans of pears and peaches preserved in syrup, but at least anybody who, like Old Wotsisname, is desperate for tafia now knows how to make it. Cheers!

Today’s Thought
Of all the wimming doubly blest
The sailor’s wife’s the happiest,
For all she does is stay to home
And knit and darn—and let ’im roam.

Of all the husbands on the earth
The sailor has the finest berth,
For in ’is cabin he can sit
And sail and sail—and let ’er knit.
— Wallace Irwin

Bad side effects
WE WERE TALKING the other day about the unfairness (for owners of small boats) of charging marina fees by boat length only, rather than by displacement. Now, reader Matt Marsh weighs in:

“Unfortunately, the negative impact of billing purely by length extends beyond simply making small-craft folk mad. It forces designers and manufacturers to use much shorter, deeper and beamier hulls than would be ideal. There are a lot of 10-ton, 35-foot powerboats that really should be 10 tons and 46 feet, but are crammed into a smaller, less efficient and far less seaworthy package so they can fit in a 35-foot slip. The logic behind length-based billing is hard to deny (the marina has to build and maintain X feet of dock to handle an X-foot boat, however wide or heavy she may be—catamarans excepted of course, since you can double-bill them—but it leads to so many bad side effects ...”

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #209
When to freshen up your varnish? Here’s an old rule of thumb:

Wash the work thoroughly. Wet a piece of old toweling cloth and drag it, dripping, across the surface of the varnish. If the water left behind forms beads, the varnish is still in good condition. If it forms sheets, or lies in flattish streaks, you’d better start looking for your sandpaper and varnish brush.

A man playing at the local golf course hit a magnificent drive smack down the fairway. It went hurtling toward a couple playing ahead, so he yelled “Five!”
“Hey,” said his companion, “don’t you mean Fore?”
“Not at all,” he said, “this is a course of a different holler.”

(A new Mainly about Boats column every Monday, Wednesday, Friday.)

1 comment:

Don P said...

Hmmm... this might be a suitable use for WHITE rum, I'll run it by the NACB. In a previous post you mentioned a "Dark and Stormy". I looked up the recipe, purchased some ginger beer and mixed a batch. It was O.K. and we must be open to new taste experiences. That said I'm sure a seasoned mariner such as yourself will try to bring Old Wotsisname to appreciate that the only proper use of a decent dark rum is in a good old Royal Navy three water Grog!
1 part dark rum
3 parts water (maybe less if you're off watch)
a squeeze of lemon juice
a teaspoon of unrefined sugar

Nelson's Blood, Huzzah!