The Strawberry and Basil Martini

I am having dinner at Ristorante Settepani in Harlem observing people sitting at the table nearby enjoying their food, laughing, discussing, talking and just having a good time.  To me, the mouth is one of the most important parts of the body that we so often take for granted until it has a problem.  So, instead of just keeping all of this information to myself, let me share some of the insights I have with over 20 years as a dentist.

While sipping a very delicious strawberry and basil martini, I felt the cool pieces of strawberries on my tongue and the small strawberry seeds that when you bite down you feel them between your teeth.  It is fascinating to me just how sensitive the nerve endings in the mouth can on the one hand allow you to bit into a large hard apple, yet still be able to detect the very miniscule small strawberry.  Not to mention that our mouth is critical to bite, chew, and grind food down into small particles to enable proper digestion.

I observe a very intense discussion with a group at a table, where a lot of loud talking and laughing ensue.  Suffice it to say that I cannot hear the details of the conversation, but, what I note is how the lips, teeth and tongue come together in distinct ways to create different sounds.   In order to create the sounds “th” , “s”, “m”, … every letter in the alphabet and all of words that we speak,  it is critical that we use our mouths.  Have you ever spoken to someone who has no teeth, or wears ill fitting dentures?  They cannot speak properly or enunciate their words.

Finally, the laughter!  We take so for granted a beautiful smile.  But each and every one of us first made the connection with our significant relationship from the first look, that smile.  Even if you date online, you must show upload a picture if you want to get any response.  It is quite tragic to see people who place their hand in front of their mouths, or keep their mouth almost shut, for fear and embarrassment when they have missing teeth, or teeth that are broken down.

I will admit, I love to eat!  My passion is Dental Health.  I see little children from the first tooth that comes into their mouth, to older patients, who are trying to hold onto their last teeth, and the whole spectrum in between.   I would like to prop up the status of the MOUTH and give it the respect it is due.  I know that there is strong correlation between oral health and general health.  As our community sees increases in diseases such as diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, etc. the mouth, and oral cavity play such an important part.  As a New Yorker and foodie, I am confessing my oral fixations and hope to provide some positive “food for thought” about the mouth, the oral cavity, healthy food choices and healthy habits and try to live a little bit healthier.

A “Food Network”  Recipe for the Strawberry and Basil Martini

7 basil leaves with stems
1-ounce strawberry puree
1 cup ice cubes
2 1/2 ounces soju (Korean vodka)
1/2-ounce lime juice
1/2-ounce sweet and sour mix
1/2-ounce strawberry syrup


In a 16-ounce cocktail shaker, add the basil leaves and the strawberry puree. Muddle until the basil leaves are broken into pieces. Add the ice cubes, then add the soju, lime juice, sweet and sour mix and strawberry syrup. Shake vigorously. Strain the drink into a 7-ounce chilled martini glass and serve cold.

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