Hydra-practitioner, writer and ‘water painter,' Lilibet Wasser, has examined and studied water as a healing power and art form for most of her life. In her latest endeavor— a cookbook, Splash of Wonder: How Water Transforms Food, Wasser reveals how cooking with the right water can harmoniously balance the flavor, aroma, weight and tone of a meal.
“Water is Earth’s most fundamental resource, paramount to all living things,” she says. "While abundant in Western societies from municipal sources, the filtration and arduous treating of public waters quells its pure authenticity.” Wasser recognizes that many bottled waters offer ‘boutique’ taste experiences, but unnecessary mineral infusions can add needless weight and heavy, sometimes, bitter tastes. “Not to mention the sustainability concern encompassing the bottles themselves,” she cautions. Of an approximated 58 billion bottles used annually, only 28 percent are recycled by processing centers.
"Water is life. Life is water. It never stays still, much like the human mind.”
Wasser prefers to source water herself, and has spent nearly three decades traveling the globe to taste, survey and record her findings. Her cookbook is inspired by her undying passion for an element that not only mystifies her, but continues to surprise her. “Cooking with natural spring water that has a higher ratio of total dissolved solids, like water from Mulshi spring, located in the remote Sahyadri mountains in India, will make flavors stronger—bolder. I use this when cooking meats and heartier foods to add subtle complexities and distinguished nuances to the taste.”
She insists upon using lighter, sweeter water—tantamount to a white wine—for vegetarian and seafood meals. “Water with a lower mineral content is perfect for crisp summer vegetables and fish because it hydrates well and penetrates food, adding a depth which is fresh and bright.”
Wasser gleefully recounts the surprise turn of events that created a true classic in her repertoire, Duck on Japanese Rice with Fresh Danish Green Peas in Wasabi Water Reduction, “It wasn’t until I discovered the young rainwater of Bhutan—that is low in minerals and free of nitrates which neutralize the gaminess of waterfowl—that I was charmed with this dish. It almost didn’t make it into the book, though now it’s one of my signatures,” she laughs, “much to the blessing of my late uncle, I assure you!”
Indeed, Wasser’s devotedness to water sprung as a young child where she spent idyllic summers divining water from the challenging terrain of her late uncle's Muscovy Duck farm in the Bavarian village of Billerbeck. “It was there that I made water my lifelong passion,” she recounts. “Having the duck recipe in my book—in a sense—is an ode to my uncle.”
Splash of Wonder commences with recipes created during the days spent on her uncle’s farm, where she cultivated her now-acclaimed method for the perfect glass of water. “I knew deep in my psyche that a perfect glass of water existed. I was relentless in my pursuit— and now I can share this knowledge to enrich the palettes of the cognoscenti. Water is life. Life is water. It never stays still, much like the human mind.”
"Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good."
― T H E B U D D H A
Lilibet Wasser’s Perfect Glass of Water
- Using a glass funnel, carefully pour 1 ½ cups spring or rain water over oval stones (from a remote, unadulterated mountain stream) into a borosilicate glass vessel.
- Strain the water into a second glass vessel through an organic, unbleached, natural fiber cheesecloth.
- Let the water rest for 2 minutes, uncovered.
- Swirl the water several times and cover with a sheet of parchment paper, then with a piece of foil.
- Place the covered flask in a windowsill with ample sunlight (preferably an East facing bay window).
- Allow bright sunlight to filter through the glass for at least (but no more than) 30 minutes.
- Afterward, swirl the water several more times and place the vessel into a hand-dug, rock-lined cave with a maximum temperature of 64°F (17.8°C) and allow it to cool for at least 48 hours.
- Serve in a clear-glass mason jar or favorite clear-glass drinking vessel.
- Sip water and allow 12-15 seconds in between tastes to think about its life sustaining element.