Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


The bureaucrat, the new year's resolution and the cucumber.

Bureaucrat Jerril Rechter tells of her descent into addiction:
"It's a habit I fell into easily. ... every evening after work, I'd go home and sit down to a refreshing tonic water and lime. It's just what I did at the end of a day."
Yes. There is no 'gin' in that sentence. The VicHealth CEO was hooked on tonic water, or possibly the lime; and every new year was a hellish groundhog day:
" ... every year on January 1, I'd resolve to reduce (sugary drinks) from my diet. And every year, by January 31, I'd have given in to my habit."
One heroic month without tonic and lime, and then back on the turps. Rehab? Counselling? Cold turkey? No. Rechter's own organisation comes to the rescue.
"I finally managed ... by signing up to our H30 Challenge, committing to swap every energy drink for water for 30 days."
Enter the cucumber:
"I also found it helped to have a jug of water infused with cucumber and mint or lime and ginger chilling in the fridge to enjoy when I got home."
Work in a bureaucracy and go home to cucumber-flavoured water. It's the Australian dream come true. Jubilant, sugar-free and awash with H2O, Rechter exhorts readers:
"Get family and friends to sign up for the challenge with you ... just register at"
I tried to imagine the online stampede of thousands crashing the VicHealth website in their haste to pledge to drink cold water with vegetables in it, but failed.

Ironically, or by editorial design, an item pillorying the 'fun police' appeared adjacent to Rechter's sermon. On calls to ban McDonald's from a new children's hospital, Rita Panahi refers to
"the joyless fun police" ... "the most irrational reaction ... folk foaming at the mouth ... fevered response from some vexed souls ... miserable do-gooders ... a sneering attitude ... rooted far more in hysteria and snobbery ... ."
She then goes on to tell us what she really thinks.

But the last word belongs to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who is in for a fight with his bureaucrats, being quoted this morning as saying that people calling for a McDonald's ban should "get over themselves".

Eureka! A straight-talking politician!

Two better uses for cucumber than drowning it in water.

Summer’s best relish: cucumber, tomato, red onion and chilli.

Finely chop two very ripe tomatoes. Peel and dice a medium cucumber. Retain peel. Finely dice a small red onion. Chop a small green chilli very finely. Shred a small bunch of coriander. Juice a lime.

Combine ingredients, add a teaspoon of salt and a dash of chilli powder. Add liberally to swordfish kebabs, or wrap up with grilled chicken and a little yogurt in fenugreek roti.


In a highball glass, top up two fingers of Pimm's with half and half dry ginger and lemonade. Add ice, a few strips of cucumber peel and a slice of orange and enjoy shamelessly while bureaucrats cringe over their enfeebling glasses of water. Old-fashioned, but bitter-sweet refreshing on a very hot day.


Melbourne Girl said...

Oh I LOVE a Pimms and it's just not the same without a bit of cucumber in it.
I heard an interview with Rechter speaking about switching to water from her usual nightly tonic water - God help us .

I also heard Daniel Andrews remark. Like you - I was pleased to hear some straight speaking for a change, rather than the usual waffle we're fed

kitchen hand said...

Waffle and spin is all you get as if they are all trying not to offend someone or other.

Dr. Alice said...

Good heavens, that's sad. It isn't as if the poor woman was swilling down gallons of Coke. Besides, quinine is good for leg cramps.

I've had Pimm's in England and really enjoyed it. And yes, it does need cucumber.