|Kappa from above.|
Cucumbers are here, as they are elsewhere in the world, a summer delight. They crunch their way into salads, get slathered with spicy oil and munched with beer, dipped in miso, or turned into a quick pickle perfect any time. Refreshing, cool, delicious.
But the one thing I never imagined they would do, they have done. They have gone out on the town and reappeared swimming in a tall clear glass of vodka. Shocking. Shockingly delicious, that is.
I first met the Kappa in Kichijoji at a little standing bar in their Harmonica-cho, a dense weave of narrow lanes, shops, bars, restaurants, and cafes on the north side of the station. I don't remember why we stopped there, but I do know we were waiting to meet some friends. I also remember seeing the tall clear glass emerge from behind the bar. The thin slices of cucumber veritably shimmered as the ice cubes jostled them, tiny bubbles from the sparkling water tickling up their sides. (Yes, I had already had a couple drinks by the time I saw this.)
|Perfectly thin, perfectly delicious.|
The name, of course, is something of a mystery. Kappa is a mythical water creature that lurks in ponds and rivers, although some legends say they winter in the mountains. (Wouldn't you?) Their appearance is green and rather frog-like, although that varies from region to region. Mischievous in nature, the kappa can cause a bit of trouble now and again. A perfect name for a deceptively strong drink, if you ask me. By the time our friends arrived, the Kappa had done its work on me, and I encouraged (some might say drunkenly bullied) them into buying their own. Regardless, we had a lovely walk home afterwards, and the Kappa has been a favorite ever since.
Four or five thin slices of cucumber or enough to go wall around the glass
Ice, cubes are best
Wall the glass with the cucumber slices and fill the center with ice. Then mix vodka and sparkling water to taste. If you're like me and something of a lightweight, I'd recommend more sparkling water and a dash of lemon juice. I also think a sprig of mint would be nice, but you'll have to see for yourself.