Mirador Reviews the Essentials: Water

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Bathroom tap water. Hey, it’s better than Arrowhead

Criticism nowadays is everywhere.  Critics are no longer elite tastemakers writing for high-society journals and magazines; they are bloggers, Facebook users, and your next-door neighbor.  The critic’s role has expanded, so most everything is fair game for criticism and every place is fair game to publish it. So, we ask, why not stay with the times? Why criticize just movies, music, art?  Why not criticize the essence of life itself: water? Mirador’s critics-in-residence, David Beal and Eric Hass, take aim.

Eric: In an unfamiliar restaurant with an unfamiliar water list, I tried Lauretana Mineral Water. Lauretana’s website claims to have the lowest fixed residue of more than 250 mineral waters marketed in Italy; this means it has the least minerals when it comes out of the ground.  The blend of ions and salts makes Lauretana one of the most complex waters I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve certainly hit the extremes of water tasting.  From the purest and coldest snowmelt, to the most metallic and full-bodied output of an iron spring, to water imbued with plastic from distillation—Lauretana rises above the pack.

David: Someone recently asked a friend and me, “What is the most inhuman, soul-sucking, un-ingestible thing you can think of eating?”  My friend’s answer: rusted metal.  My answer: Arrowhead bottled “water.” In general, it’s bad form to simply insult what one criticizes, but this substance so flagrantly violates standards of modern beverage decency that it puts over-sugared sodas to shame.  It is a bitter, chalky, and achingly disgusting amalgam of chemicals and dirty motel water.  In fact, used water from my shower drain sounds more appealing than Arrowhead.  I would rather put an “arrow” through my “head” than drink Arrowhead.

Eric: Have you ever tasted water bubbling from an aquifer fed by snowmelt? Filtered through bedrock into near chemical purity, held just above freezing temperature by the warmth of unseen magma? The more common purification method, evaporative distillation, makes water the way humans want it to be; aquifiers make water the way water knows it should be.  Snowmelt is by water, for water, and of water.  It doesn’t get any cleaner than this. The severe cold can be unsettling at first, but one must understand that this water has no need to please human tongues. After the tastebuds recover, there is an almost imperceptible sweetness (most manufactured water has ionic taints that skew the taste away from sweet). But you can never keep it in your mouth for long. The water’s paralytic chill means that it can never make one feel full or satisfied. “My stomach isn’t full, but if I keep drinking, my throat will freeze.”

All in all, when dealing with some mineral waters, the water is just the vehicle for the ions, the stars of the show. It’s impossible to just eat ions, so we use water to ferry them. The low fixed residue is entertaining to tease out and identify. These waters walk the line between flavored drink and plain water. They’re neither too salty nor too sour, and those impressions come in and out of focus sip by sip.