Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

October is for Absinth

It’s October and this is a good time to drink absinth, a drink that carries the magic of wormwood.
In ancient times, wormwood was considered of medicinal properties. The name comes from the belief that it could kill worms. The ancient Druids, according to Douglas Monroe , author of The 21 Lessons of Merlyn: A Study in Druid Magic and Lore, the ancient Druids had a drink for Samhein, or Holloween as we know it today. They made an apple cider wine using heaps of wormwood and melon pedals.
By the 1800s Absinthe was the drink of choice among artist and writers in the mid to late19th century. It inspired poets and appeared in works by Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. It was drank by the scandalous playwright Oscar Wilde, the eccentric Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the poets Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allen Poe, and the famous 20th century author Ernest Hemingway, just to mention a few.
Absinthe was also drunk in San Francisco, Chicago and New York, which had a popular restaurant called the Absinthe House. Up until 1912, many of the more exotic bars in New York would serve an absinthe cocktail. One can imagine a piano player at one of these watering holes singing this Victor Herbert melody with lyrics by Glenn MacDonough:
I will free you first from burning thirst
That is born of a night of the bowl,
Like a sun 'twill rise through the inky skies
That so heavily hang o'er your souls.
At the first cool sip on your fevered lip
You determine to live through the day,
Life's again worth while as with a dawining smile
You imbibe your absinthe frappé.
But on July 13, 1907, Harper´ s Weekly noted, “The growing consumption in America of absinthe, 'the green curse of France,' has attracted the attention of the Department of Agriculture, and an investigation has been ordered to determine to what extent it is being manufactured in this country." Just five years later, on July 25, 1912, the Department of Agriculture issued Food Inspection Decision 147, which banned absinthe in America.
Today absinth is making a comeback. It is being ordered from overseas or it is being made through many recipes on the internet. The wormwood is probably harmless and the hallucinogenic qualities are probably urban legend. I’ve drank it and nothing unusual happened. Since the drink was high in alcohol, it may have been alcohol poisoning and not the wormwood that caused people problems.
Besides drinking it straight, people often hold a special spoon or fork over a glass, put a sugar cube on and pour cold over it. Some people put the sugar cub in the drink and light it on fire, cutting the alcohol content and caramelizing the sugar. All these recipes are good if done right.

If you can get it, try it. The 21 Lessons of Merlyn has a good recipe that can produce a fine variety of tasty beverages for the Samhein parties and holidays.

1 comment:

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