Taste buds are curious things. Sometimes they do just what you would expect. And other times, well, they don't.
Case in point - Rosewater.
I must admit that rosewater was not one of the first ingredients that I rushed out to buy when I began this culinary adventure 16 years ago. It wasn't even on my list of things to try. In fact, it wasn't a blip on my radar at all.
Then I began running in to books about Tea Time Treats. Pages and pages of pictures depicting intricate tea cakes, and tiny tea cookies with names like madeleines and tassies and financiers, which I mistakenly envisioned as men in black suits discussing the rise and fall of the stock market. Blintzes and maids of honor. When did those become cookies? And meringues. And I'm thinking, "How is this a cookie? It's the top of a lemon pie. I'm so confused."
And I flip the page and there they are. Five of the most beautiful little delicacies I have ever seen sitting on a plate surrounded by petals, just daring me to make them. Rosewater Cream Meringues.
For those of you who don't know, rosewater is just what its name suggests. Rose water. Concentrated, but rose water, nonetheless. It involves a somewhat complicated but not impossible approximately 24 hour process to create in your own kitchen, involving a homemade still, and putting the petals in water with a brick. That doesn't even sound sanitary. Could be I just don't understand.
I'm a big do-it-yourselfer, especially when it comes to food, but I decided not to start from scratch for this one. So I went on safari for rosewater. After several hunting parties and about the same number of months later, I discovered it at a nearby upscale grocery. Did you catch the nearby part? Right in my own 3.7 mile back yard.
I know. Nevermind. Moving on.
Now I wait for the reason to put the pedal to the metal, and the rosewater to the cream. It arrived in the form of a ladies morning meeting and we're off!
My primary taste tester human had his doubts. Though he agreed that the water did smell lovely, he winced when he anticipated the "soap-like" experience in his mouth. Childhood memories, perhaps? This is when creativity, recipe development and taste buds meet, and sometimes crash. But I wasn't giving up.
I whipped that cream. I added the rosewater. I handed him just a dab on a spoon. And I waited.
I adjusted. I added extract. Raspberry extract. His favorite flavor, next to mocha almond fudge, which was not going in this cream. No, but raspberry might work.
Another dab. Another anticipated wince.
But no, this was better. Even good. And this was a gent's opinion.
I had to know. I built one whole cookie. Meringue. Cream. Berry. Cream. Meringue. I took a bite. Crunchy and smooth. Delicate, airy, sweet, and yes, flowery. But absolutely, positively close-my-eyes-and-savor-the-taste delightful! So I was hopeful that the intended female audience might enjoy them, too.
I assembled them and laid them on their sides, each neatly tucked in a large candy paper cup and protectively loaded them in boxes. They were dispatched to their destination with a warning that they were unusual, and might not be fancied by all. Just so they knew.
And I waited.
And the message came back - a success, completely! So the elegant and tasty beauties are happily added to my repetoire and menu.