For all I love to eat and travel, my stomach does not. I wish I could boast of an iron clad gut as many travelers do, but alas I’m easily afflicted with tummy trouble. It doesn’t really matter how careful I am or how much or how little I eat on the street, any change in my usual diet can result in distress, even at home. This can be the result of over-indulgence of rich foods in places like Rome or Paris, or over-indulgence in spicy foods in South East Asia or my local Thai restaurant.
My travels have led me to try many a local remedy. In Morocco, a carpet salesman sold me a small vial of orange oil which he told me was medicinal. He said I should put a few drops in some water or open it and smell it if I was ever feeling sick and later, it kept me from feeling seasick on the ferry boat back to Spain. In Bali, I got a bad case of Bali-Belly and was given ginger tea to settle my stomach. It worked like a charm. In Italy, we drink Amaro, an herbal liquor similar to bitters (think Fernet Branca, or even Jaegarmeister) as an after-dinner digestive aid. In India people chew anise and fennel seeds to sweeten the breath and settle the stomach after a spicy meal. Here at home, mint tea has always been my go-to drink of choice when my stomach is upset.
I’d been thinking about making a new syrup to use with my SodaStream Soda Maker for a while. After a month of eating and drinking to excess, I thought this combination of flavors might just do the trick and be the perfect drink to help settle the stomach after all that holiday overindulgence.
By the way, if you’re not familiar with the SodaStream Home Soda Makers, do check them out. I’ve had mine for over a year and a half and I love it. It’s an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to make your own carbonated water.
In a small saute pan toast the anise seed for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Remove from heat.
Cut the skin off an orange with a sharp paring knife and then carefully cut off as much of the white pith from the skin as possible. Cut the same orange in half and squeeze the juice out of it.
Slice the ginger into 1/8 " pieces and rough chop the mint.
Combine sugar and water in a small heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a low simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Add in the orange peel, orange juice, mint, ginger pieces and toasted anise seed. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let syrup steep as it cools.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer and store in a clean container in the refrigerator.
For the soda I usually combine about 2 Tbsp of the syrup with 12 oz soda water, but you can adjust to your personal taste.