In 18 school days, my child will complete the third grade. And yes, this is the beginning of a cocktail column, not the top of a mom blog. Confused about what the end of an elementary school year might have to do with a potent drink? Clearly, you have never assisted a child through his fourth year of the American public education system.
Third grade, as they warned us, ain’t no joke. The standardized tests. The homework. The bizarrely worded writing assignments. The new, new math. And, of course, the looming end-of-grade exams.
The trick for parents is to continue their own education while supporting their child’s. In celebration of third-grade EOG prep, I challenge you to take a quick quiz based on things I recently discovered when I took an afternoon off from homework and test prep.
1. Define pickleback.
A) Nickelback’s ugly cousin.
B) Like a bar back, but at a gherkin factory.
C) What you get when you pay 10 pickles for an item that costs only 9.
D) A shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice.
D. There’s nothing like a sunny, food truck rodeo to bring out the freaks on Fayetteville Street. It was on such a day recently that I wandered into a darkened bar with the giddy memory of an $15 lobster roll still fresh on my mind, only to be offered a pickleback. A pickleback, as the answer D indicates, is a shot of Jameson whiskey followed by a mouthful of pickle juice. I had no idea this sort of thing was going on in public. Much about modern America frightens me, but the fact that people willingly pay to ingest brine and whiskey as part of a leisurely beverage routine certainly makes my top 10 list. Extra credit points if you can tell me where this fad began. (If you said Brooklyn, you’re right.)
2. What does avocado toast mean?
A) One of the only meals the mother of a newborn can fix herself because it can be made with one hand.
B) A delicious and fairly economical breakfast staple for vegetarians.
C) A smiley, green emoji that means both “Congratulations!” and “You go well with chips!”
D) Bar food you’re going to pay $8-$10 per plate for.
A, B, D and maybe C. Don’t get me wrong, I like avocado toast. I’m also a big fan of peanut butter crackers, sliced cheese and olives that I eat with my fingers right from the jar. Am I going to pay someone to make these foods for me? No. Not ever. Not unless I’ve somehow accidentally managed to choke down a few too many picklebacks. But avocado toast is now a thing that food bloggers rave about and regular people pay for.
3. Tell me what “Sweet Baby Jesus!” is.
A) What you yell when the server tells you how much the avocado toast costs.
B) Something only Will Ferrell should say.
C) A phrase reserved for teachers on the last day of third grade.
D) A chocolate peanut butter porter that tastes like a grown-up malted milk just begging to be topped with a scoop of vanilla.
A. Probably A, B, and C, but definitely D. Made by DuClaw, a Maryland brewery, it’s one of about 20 beers on tap at Z Pizza on Fayetteville Street, and it’s a stand-out. With none of the heavy sweetness common to beers in this category, it tastes like a well-made confection. Get some while you can.
4. When someone offers you wine in can, the appropriate response is:
A) Please repeat the question.
B) I can’t hear you. It sounded like you said “canned wine.”
C) Clearly, you have no idea who you’re talking to.
D) Not now, but ask me again when we’re done with EOGs.
D. Anyone who has ever chilled a four-pack of Sofia Coppola’s adorable blanc de blanc sparkling wines in the pink cans and handed them out to the girls before pedis knows there’s no shame in popping open a can of vino. Barefoot Refresh is the next, cheaper generation of this trend. According to Shanken Daily News, sales of this line of canned, slightly fizzy wines grew by 4.5 percent to 1.2 million cases in 2015. Of the offerings, my favorite is the Crisp White. Some of the Triangle’s finer mini-marts have been selling these as singles for a couple of years. Be on the lookout for four-packs of 8.5-ounce cans this summer, and raise a can to the end of the school year.
Amber Nimocks is a former News & Observer food editor. Reach her at amberwrites.com.