Growing up, one of my all-time favorite restaurants was an Indian establishment at the top of Ghirardelli Square, in San Francisco. The name of the place is "Gaylord India Restaurant
". The last time I ate there is roughly 25 years ago, but it is still there! It's apparently not very highly rated, but it stands out in my mind as the absolute pinnacle of Indian food in the mid-80's.
One of my absolute favorite treats was the "Sweet Lassi". There were 3 kinds to choose from, "Sweet, salty or mango". It was always "Sweet" for me! I knew it was a sweetened yoghurt drink, but it had an unusual flavor, which was completely foreign to me. As a child, I never placed the bizarre flavor, either!
Many many years later, I learned that the exotic flavor coming from the drink was "rose water"! This, in itself, was an amazing discovery. Rose water? Interesting! I remember purchasing it at an Asian market, when I was much younger. In my mind's eye, I was envisioning something like a very mellow floral "note", but with the overall sensation being that of just plain ol' water. Oh, how wrong I was!
This may be a bit of an aggressive description, but it's precisely how I felt about my first big shwig of rose water, straight from the bottle. Imagine taking a dozen beautifully grown red roses; grown in the best soil, with love, care and all the glorious organic treatments that a growing plant can take. Remove the thorns, package it all up in a beautiful gold ribbons ... and then punch me right in the tongue with it. It was glorious anguish. I immediately hated it, but ... found the aftertaste to me nothing short of magnificent.
Oh, what a weird ingredient. A "Sweet Lassi" would be absolutely nothing without it.