Wait until the sun is shining and the world is gently roasting and your tongue is a little bit dry and tacky from thirst. Clean off your wooden cutting board. Grab a big, sharp chef’s knife, either classical pointed Franco-German or the Santoku Japanese form. Don’t use a dinky paring knife or a steak knife or a long-bladed meat slicer or a many-toothed bread knife. Those knives are great for their aptly-named tasks. For this job, you need a generalist’s knife.
Get a tall glass, 16 oz or less. Plastic will do in a pinch, but if it is glass, the final product will taste better. Splash some warm tap water in the bottom of the glass. Grab a teaspoon or coffee spoon and add two teaspoons of sugar, heaping or not. Taste is not a matter of precision. Stir and leave the spoon in the glass.
Make sure your bottle of fizzy water is fresh and cold. Do not rely on ice. Ice will only flatten the life out of the drink.
Grab a lime or a lemon from your blue-bottomed bamboo bowl of limes, lemons, tomatoes, and avocados. Admire their sheen as they bask in the sunshine from the window. Hear your mom’s voice in your mind teaching you to select fruit heavy for their size with taut skin, a sign of juiciness. Recall how this advice is delivered to you every time you are in the presence of both your mother and limes. Turn on the cool water from the faucet and wash the fruit with both hands. Maybe scratch the skin and smell the zesty oil.
Cutting the Fruit:
Do not roll-and-press the fruit. Do not put the fruit in the microwave.
Grip the top side of the knife blade next to the handle with your index finger and thumb and wrap your other fingers around the handle.
Cut both the stem end and the blossom end off. The stem end is the little nub where the fruit was connected to the tree. The blossom end is where the flower used to be, before it met the pollen of its dreams, fell in love, and made a fruit. Cut enough of the ends to both give flat edges and expose the central fibers that run its length. Cut the fruit in half cross-wise (parallel to the cuts made on the ends.
Take a half, broad, flat side down. Cut down the length on one side of the fiber vein, keeping it intact. Cut by placing the knife tip into the board and pushing the knife forward and down. Make another cut 90 degrees from the last, again keeping the vein intact. Set the piece with the vein on its long, flat side and cut the vein free, sparing as much juicy fruit flesh as possible. Repeat with the other half.
Having removed the fiberous vein, squeeze each piece of lime or lemon into the glass. Get out every last drop. Fish out the exhausted peel that slipped through your fingers. Or leave it in so that the zesty oil perfumes your drink and the subtle bitter from the pith makes it taste like real life. I usually leave in a piece or two, having washed it so carefully. Throw the scraps into the compost pile. Think of how raccoons might react as they pick up the curious, fragrant citrus scrap and taste its tartness for the first time.
Stir vigorously to mix the juice, syrup, zesty oil, and touch of bitter.
Open a bottle of cold, fizzy water, perhaps from France or Italy. Fold the bubbles into the sweet nectar tenderly. Listen to the pitch change as the glass fills and thousands of carbon dioxide bubbles pop, carrying the zesty freshness into your nose. Admire the glint in the sunshine. Maybe take a picture so that you can blog about it. Pick up the glass. Note its heft and how cold it is. Take a sip, then a gulp. Enjoy the vivacious, pucker-inducing, palate-cleansing, thirst-quenching, bubbles dancing on your tongue. Admire the sunshine and water manifest in so many forms in the glass, now part of your body. Start all over again.