If you've read cake and commerce before, you know I like to make liqueur...fruits, spices and herbs are all fair game. This winter I found the mother load of Yuzu (citron) at my local Japanese market, Mitsuwa. I spent about $32 on the fruit, which makes only the briefest appearance in the cold winter months and retails for about $16/lb. I carefully zested the Yuzu, and squeezed the juice from all the fruits. I poured a litre of Vodka over the fruit and topped it off with a little Cachaca just for fun. I added several cups of sugar and placed it under the counter, where I aged it for a month.
At the end of the month I went to check it and oddly found the entire bottle drained of liquid. There was not even a thimbleful left. I wondered if perhaps I had not tightened the top of my bottle enough. So I went back to the liquor store, bought some Boru, a quadruple--distilled Irish (!!) vodka, and poured the contents in, along with some Meyer lemon. This was three weeks ago.
Today I checked it again. I figured I needed to give the bottle a stir to make sure the sugar was dissolving. Just like the last time, it was completely empty. The zest was piled up against the side of the bottle as if someone had poured it out and left it as is. I tested the top -- it was loose, and I definitely didn't leave it loose.
I had a flashback moment...recalling bottles of my wine that my roommate had drunk and only admitted drinking after I noticed that most of my refrigerated whites were gone. At least five or six that time. I thought he quit the habit.
And then I came back from a business trip on Sunday. The roommate has promised to clean the bathroom. When I came home the place was a mess, and the bathroom wasn't touched. Another bottle of my wine, a bottle I kept hidden in a cabinet in the dining room, was drained and left next to the sink. He had discovered my secret stash -- the place in the dining room where I kept alcohol that I didn't want him to touch. So much for that. But I didn't realize that until today, when I finally understood that it wasn't evaporation or a crack in the bottle that was disappearing my alcohol. It was the roommate.
I left him a confused voicemail...something like, "Uh, I found my liqueur complete empty...I'm leaving it on the counter. Also, I've noticed bottles of wine have gone missing. Let's talk later."
I called my friend Ed, who capably handled my hysteria..."Um, Um, Um, I think he's drinking my booze!" I said. Ed told me that I needed to confront him. Ken, who was sitting in Ed's office during the call, told me that he thought it was a deal breaker. I was ready to kill my roommate, or at least throw him out.
Let me explain. My roommate is not on the lease. He is my subletter. He pays less than 50% of the rent, 50% of the bills, and spends 75% of his time at home because he is currently without a steady job - he's doing some contract work for his old company, which he can do at home. He takes care of Lula, my dog, during the day, more or less. I've come home after a day at work to find that Lula has eaten my TV remote, several pens, and a pillow or two. He says that as long as he doesn't hear her, he figures she is okay. I've learned from experience that this is a mistake. Lula is usually causing the most damage when she is silent. She's stealthy like that.
So the last thing in the world I figured was that my roommate was a secret tippler. He has to be. I've noticed bottles of Cachaca gone, missing Vodka, an empty of liqueur, wine AWOL, and beer...well, that walked off ages ago. I haven't noticed him bringing his own bottles home. I haven't noticed him drinking at all, actually.
What the hell?
Another detail to consider is that I am not a heavy drinker -- typically I drink a glass or two of wine or spirits every week. I like coming home and enjoying a couple glasses of Sake or Whiskey or wine every once in a while. I keep booze around to entertain guests, not for my own boozehound ways.
So I confronted him directly. I told him everything, about the labor I put into the Yuzu liqueur, about the rarity of the fruit, about how I could only make it once a year. And you know what he did? He laughed! Granted, the guy loves Hot Pockets, Domino's Pizza, and fast food of all kinds; how could he ever understand that I actually cared about the liqueur? And when I asked him how it was (afterall, I didn't even get to taste it), he looked at me with a huge, self-satisfied grin, and said, "really good." Bastard!
He said he felt guilty, so he would keep filling it back up with vodka, but then he'd drink it, and then, well, you know. Eventually the well goes dry if you don't buy more vodka.
When I told my food buddy Ryan about the disappearance of my yuzu liqueur, he sent me this link for citrus of all kinds mailed right to your door. They have great fruits, but no Yuzu or other citron this time of year. Crushing.
The roommate has promised to repay me. That's not what I care about. I care about him taking my things without asking, and not asking for forgiveness after the fact. I care that I can't trust him, and that I now have to worry about what he's going to take of mine, or what I will discover in time. The fact that he doesn't respect me or my belongings is worrying, especially because he spends so much time at home alone when I'm at work.
At least he doesn't know where the absinthe is hidden.