Friday, June 5, 2009

On tonight's menu: water. With a side of water.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 10:50 AM

elsenhamwater.jpg


What's the biggest compliment you can give to water? That it tastes like water. Or, if you're one of the increasing number of water gullible fools connoisseurs, then you'd use words like rounded, flinty, crispy and spritzy to describe two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.

All of those adjectives are actually used in a taste test of waters served at Claridge's in London, which has a mind-numbing 33 choices ranging from the plain and cheap Fiji to $40 water pumped straight from glaciers, rainwater, springs and God knows where else.

Claridge's and several restaurants in Los Angeles employ water sommeliers to advise customers on what goes best with "spiced braised belly pork or fillet of brill with parmentier of truffled leek."

There is even a French term for what people are supposedly buying in these expensive waters.

As BLDG explains, terrior

is the idea that an object grown in one geographic area will taste different from

the same object grown in another. Terrior is most often

applied to wine but can be applied to

virtually any food. A book called Fine Waters claims to be a "guide to the world's most distinctive bottle

waters" and, at $24.99, it costs significantly less than many of the

waters it covers.

The problem nobody mentions is that water will take on the properties of anything

it touches. The taste of pure water (no fluoride here) will depend as

much on the bottle it's stored in as the place where it comes from. And often, it seems

the bottle is what people are actually paying for. Take $30 Elsenham Water,

the towering glass vessel that houses Elsenham water was made by a

company that designs perfume bottles for French fashion labels. Its

distinctive cap is trademarked. Before every bottle leaves the building

it is polished by hand.

We'll see whether expensive water takes off. Forty years ago, who thought we'd be paying for water in the first place? Twenty years ago, if you said millions of

people would gladly fork over $5 for a cup of coffee, nobody would

believe you. Crazier things have happened than $25 bottles of water.

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