Chill, man

Credit: Photo by Rebecca Firkser

I'm sipping some celery seltzer in an attempt to quell a panic attack. It’s maybe kind of working.

If I were to believe the copy on this envelope of celery juice powder, I'd think seriously about canceling my health insurance. It’s hyped as "highly hydrating, nutritious, and one of the most healthiest foods" and credited with lowering blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol, relieving constipation and inflammation, and calming the mind. Ha ha! They've never reckoned with the likes of my jumpy monkey brain before!

The celery seltzer is chilling me out because it's strange and compelling enough to distract me from whatever is pricking at the edges of my calm right now. I’ve been conditioned to be used to cucumber in my seltzer by now—it’s 2018, for goodness sake—and have encountered the occasional Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic over the past 22 years that I’ve made my home in New York, but this is something a thousand times more vegetal and just plain green tasting. Not in that swampy “green juice” way that tastes of self-flagellation and smugness, but clear and phyllophorous—like celery.

How often do you think about celery? It’s relegated to pack mule status for cream cheese and dips, tossed in for texture in a salad, or popped into a bloody mary as an ersatz edible swizzle, but it’s deserving of so much more of your attention. And celery powder may be its ideal format. The vegetable’s stringiness is the primary problem for many people, but stripped of its physicality and reduced to powder form, all that remains is the distinct, slightly bitter, almost but not quite numbing, and unmistakable for anything else essence of pure celery.

Weirdly, seltzer is the ideal conveyance for this, adding back the crisp bite lost in the powdering. I’d recommend adding a teaspoon or two of powder to just a splash of flat water to it and stirring to make a slurry before adding seltzer (and ice if you want it) so it doesn’t fizz up like a lab experiment gone amok. This isn’t an especially lovely drink, but rather sort of grainy and grim, so you may wish a lid or an opaque container, but truly, that’s the least of your worries.

Oh, worries—right. In the course of the stirring and swigging, somehow my mind smoothed out. One of the tricks to managing my particular brand of panic is knocking the monkey off its swinging vine and onto terra firma where it can be contained and that is often achieved by distraction. This drink is so odd and unexpectedly lovely, sip after sip, that I have momentarily forgotten to panic. I cannot swear that this will be the case for everyone, but it’s working for me right now, so I’m not going to stress about it.