Everyone knows the feeling: it’s late at night, it’s been a long day, and you want to relax with a hot beverage. Coffee, though the most complex and wonderful of all beverages, doesn’t exactly fit the bill. I do on occasion enjoy a late night aeropress, but such occurrences seem to correspond with late night blogging- however caffeine tolerant I might be. Chamomile, with or without honey, is usually my go to caffeine-free drink. But unfortunately I’m also prone to go through things in phases and I’m coming out of a major chamomile phase right now. However much I may read Peter Rabbit or listen to mewithoutYou, I can’t get motivated to make a pot. Hot chocolate is another great late night option and while I was visiting my friends the Patersons in Sheffield we enjoyed a cup almost every night- but with perfectly steamed milk thanks to Row’s espresso machine and Aussie barista experience. After tasting such luxury it’s hard to go back to hot water and minimarshmallows.
Enter my latest obsession: Salep.
Salep is a traditional Turkish beverage made from the root of orchids, sugar, and milk. A smidgen of cinnamon is usually sprinkled on top. It tastes something like a hot liquid tapioca pudding and is absolutely delicious. I’m unfortunately not a salep aficionado, so I’m content to buy the premade kind they sell at my neighborhood market, though there’s also a dude who pushes a salep cart around my neighborhood sometimes, dispensing cups out of a giant golden machine looks like one of those giant old school espresso machines they used to give away on the Price is Right.
There’s a number of salep recipes floating around the internet (such as this one), but they all require salep powder. If you don’t live in Turkey or have a Middle Eastern market in your town I guess you could try growing orchids, drying the roots and crushing it into a flour. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I really think it’s worth.
Otherwise you can just come visit me and I’ll be happy to make you a cup (read: heat up some pre-made).