For those of you not up on your sports (I pity you), Arnold Palmer is some famous old golfing guy.
It's actually not all that important. But what does matter is his drink of choice- a half-and-half blend of iced tea and lemonade, now widely known as the Arnold Palmer.
This drink, above all others, is positively what summer tastes like to me. The Clinton St. Cafe (4 Clinton St.), in the Lower East Side, has a particularly delicious homemade version that's the closest I've had to the one I grew up with.
My mother used to make it every morning as soon as it got warm enough- usually not until the end of June- with a big jar of sun-brewed black tea out on the porch, mixed with a can of frozen concentrated lemonade and a bunch of fresh mint sprigs she'd grab out of the backyard.
My sisters and I would then lug a coolerful down to the beach and sit by the ocean all day, drinking cup after progressively gritty cup (it's always a bit windy on a New England shore, even in summer) until soggy mint leaves were all that remained in the container. I'd bury my feet in the warm sand, and we would all eat potato chips and tunafish sandwiches, feeding the crusts to the seagulls, and wait a seemingly infinite amount of time for the ice-cream truck to appear, glimmering like a mirage in the parking lot, in the heat of the early afternoon.
Here, the ice-cream trucks may be on every corner, but any decent beach is miles away. So for my first Arnold Palmer of the season, I had to make do with a long walk in Central Park afterward. It was a lot less blue, a lot more crowded and I would have probably gotten arrested (or at least accosted by a nanny) for feeding any wildlife, but it still felt right to be outside.
It's always a welcome reminder of the power of food, how evocative a simple taste can be.