So for school I have this group project. It’s a 20-page paper that is supposed to be written by 7 people in what is for all of us a second language. This is supposed to teach us something about teamwork, or why we should go to business school, or why other countries hate the American educational system or something.
Despite the fact that my group is full of smart, capable people, this project is going about as well as 99% of group projects go, which is to say terribly.
It’s no one’s fault, really. Seven people papers of this length are doomed to fail, because they’re a stupid idea. So when my group decided without me to move away from printing our annotated bibliography* off a Google Doc to a system where we emailed our individual components to a single group member, I happened to vaguely lose it on the poor person who was sent to tell me.**
I feel bad about this, because he is an Exceptionally Nice Person in what appears to be an alarmingly genuine way. You know how I know that he is nice? Because after I lost it on him about five extra minutes of work on my end, he invited me to his Thursday night ataya party.
Seriously, he’s a really nice dude.
So, I went to the Thursday night ataya party. Ataya, for the uninitiated, is a tea made from some Chinese tea company that includes “gunpowder” in its list of ingredients. The ataya is made sweeter than syrup, and then mint leaves or blue peppermints are added to the pot. The tea is poured out and poured between shot glasses over and over to form a fine froth.
It’s delicious, and—if you ignore the frothing bit—easy to make.
But I’m here to talk about what came after the ataya, because that’s when things got crazy. After the ataya came the dessert drink, which—according to the girl handing it to me—is “like a shamrock shake, but hot,” which sounds foul, actually. Happily, the drink was very good, until the end.
“So, did you guess the secret ingredient?” my friend asked. This isn’t a question you ever want someone to ask you after you have consumed something. She took some glee in telling me.
“It’s laughing cow cheese!”
I had just enjoyed a drink of sweet cheese dip.
After the tea night, the incredibly nice person made sure to check that I had enjoyed myself, which—given that this easily ranks as my favorite night of the program so far—I could safely say that I had.
Though he is still very nice, I am increasingly worried that I have convinced him that something is wrong with me and I am either a) fundamentally unhappy *** or b) a reservoir of secret rage that will end in bloodshed if it is not checked through tea.
Or maybe he just wanted to make sure that I had a good time. Who knows! Either way, here is the recipe for the Senegalese milkshake that I had tonight. It’s unexpectedly delicious!
- 1 can condensed milk
- ½ cup water
- 1 sachet powdered milk (you can probably just substitute all of this with milk if you’d like)
- ½ cup mint
- 5 peppermint candies
- 5 spearmint candies (if available; if not, go with more peppermint)
- 2 wedges of Laughing Cow cheese
Add everything together and bring to a simmer, stirring to melt the mints and cheese and to dissolve the powdered milk if you use it. For an authentic Senegalese experience, drink it out of tiny shot glasses while speaking in a second language.
* The finest work Google Translate ever did.
** The fact that this is my response to slight inefficiency is perhaps an indicator that I’m never going to get that MBA.
*** Which, possibly, but no more than usual.