In my last post I mentioned something extraordinary, something so fantastic that you can’t even being to fathom the depth of awesomeness of this product; the one and only Salmiakkikossu.
It was Friday, late fall. Zelma and I were once again bored out of our minds, but this time, I was prepared. I had bought an entire bottle of vodka, good cheap Finnish Koskenkorva vodka. And I had also bought the devil’s candy, flavored with ammonium chloride and pepper, Turkisk Peppar is sometimes called salty liquorice by Americans. They couldn’t be more wrong. Salty liquorice implies a soft friendly taste, whereas there is nothing soft about Turkisk Peppar, except maybe the black color. I’d crushed the devil’s candy and mixed it with the vodka. The result is a sweet black liquid with the consistency of molten lava and a taste of about the same. Black gold, we call it.
I clutched the bottle to my chest as I followed Zelma into the deep recesses of the empty cave. In a mining town like Pargas, the cave had been used for everything from public flea markets to headquarters of the tiny local TV station. In fact, it was the very same cave where I participated in, and won, a game show for kids when I was twelve. The cave was huge, the ceiling ridiculously high, and the sound of our heels clicking against the lime stone floor echoed throughout the space. When we entered the smaller passages the sound diminished, and so did the light. We both breathed a sigh a relief when we entered the little space where the local TV was broadcasted from. It was Zelma’s new project, volunteering for the TV station, and to both of our delight, she’d been entrusted with the keys to the cave.
|Ziva and Zelma.|
We drank straight from the bottle, big swigs that burned going down. We talked about people we knew and fiddled with the controls in the room, briefly screwing up the automated news coverage going out to people’s TV’s at that time of night. While we were laughing and talking, for some strange reason that neither of us would ever remember again, we decided we were sharks, and this would be our first sharks’ night out. We painted the town red that night, and unbeknownst to us, it would set the tone for many more sharks’ nights out in our future. By the time we headed home again, it was late night/early morning, the bottle was long gone as so was our judgement.
We told the cab driver to drop us off about a mile from Zelma’s house. It was too expensive, and since Zelma lived in the middle of the forest it wasn’t as if anything bad could happen. The cab merrily drove away and as the taillights disappeared from view we realized we’d wildly overestimated our night vision. Fall in Finland is a dark affair. It was an overcast night, no stars, no moon. We could not even see our hand in front of our face.
|This is how dark it was.|
We started to walk in the general direction of Zelma’s house, laughing, giggling and screaming in terror every time we ended up in the ditch. After a couple hundred meters we realized there was no way we would make it to her house. So we sat down on the ground, determined to wait out the moon, or the sun, whichever came first.
We talked, then sang, then rated each other’s singing. We both gave each other a big fat F, then sang some more to see if it got any better if we practiced. It didn’t. Still, we couldn’t help ourselves and called up my then boyfriend who was happily asleep in Spain. We treated him to a serenade the likes of which he’d never heard before. He hung up on us, and we laughed so hard we cried.
By morning we made it to Zelma’s house, safe and sound, tired in body and mind from all the drinking and the laughing. We slept the day away, and woke up to a much deserved hangover, determined to do it all over again soon. And so, the sharks’ night out was born.*