It’s really interesting to think about what we remember as we age.
Obviously we remember details of major life events – your first kiss with the boy you swore on a stack of bibles was the love of your life; the party you went to when your dad dropped out of sky while you were in mid-dance with that boy and needless to say embarrassed the crap out of you; spring break in Cancun; the first college lecture you were late for and had to sit on the steps of the 400+ student auditorium; dropping that class after changing your major for the first of many more times; your first trip to Europe and being in a country where all you could barely say was yes and thank you in the native language; the marriage proposal you thought you would never get (or give).
And then there some memories are just random. Enter this beverage.
Although I remember wearing shorts and a tee it had to have been winter because my grandfather was visiting and he only came to NYC from the Dominican Republic when it was cold. I was about 7 or 8 years old. While I was in my bedroom I heard my mother yell from the kitchen “Quien quiere morir soñando?” (“Who wants to die dreaming?”) My eyes lit up and I remember saying out loud “How cool would that be…then dying wouldn’t hurt.” Excited to learn more about this brilliant concept I ran to the kitchen screaming, “Me, me, me!!!”
I sat at the table and asked my grandpa about this idea of dying while dreaming and he said “You’re in for a treat!” My excitement grew and it felt like I was about to get the answer to the meaning of life. As I sat impatiently at the table, my mom then put what looked like a glass milk in front of me. Confused I asked my grandpa, “What is this?” “Well, morir soñando,” he said.
To say that Dominicans have a way with words is an understatement. Even though the population at large knows us as great baseball players, our ability to play on words is like none I’ve ever see. I don’t know the history of how the beverage got its name, but you have to admit it’s a good one. Sure, the name has absolutely, positively no connection to the drink. No one cares and I’ve never come across anyone who questions it because all they want to do is drink up!
Funny name aside, this drink is quite the treat. Think of it as a creamsicle in liquid form. I’m not posting an official recipe for it because none is needed. The three main ingredients are orange juice, sugar and vanilla extract. Most people make this with orange juice but my mom uses the frozen kind for richer orange flavor. Simply mix frozen orange juice with sugar and vanilla extract, making sure to use just a touch of vanilla so as to not overpower the drink. Then add cold milk and mix well to incorporate as much of the sugar as possible. Sure, all of the sugar won’t mix because the ingredients are cold but part of the fun here is the bit of sugar that will be left at the end. To make one drink, my mom’s go-to proportions are 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice, 1 tablespoon sugar (we like our stuff sweet), 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 1/2 cups milk. But play around with the proportions until you reach your sweet spot.
Add ice, serve immediately and proceed to…well…die dreaming