Food For Thought: Apr-May 2017
No matter the country of origin, alcohol has been a fundamental part of life since the dawn of civilization (for better or worse). Although sometimes viewed as a controversial mind-altering elixir, alcohol can also be credited as the catalyst for major developments in religion, language, the arts and farming.
Throughout history, alcohol has been a mainstay with (or in) meals, as medicine and often as a key ingredient in social activities. While some cultures consider it a sacred fluid, only to be consumed during ceremony, many weave it into the fabric of daily life and economy. A few cultures have tried to exclude it from society altogether.
As alcohol has evolved over the centuries, so has its role in different cultures:
» Records of the Chinese making wine from rice, honey and fruit date back 9,000 years.
» For ancient Greeks, alcohol was an essential part of a civilized society. In fact, the word “wine” derives from their oin.
» Wine and bread play a central role in the Christian ceremony of the Eucharist. Later, the Cistercians developed beer and wine techniques that are still practiced today.
» During the Middle Ages, alcohol was considered a panacea cure for everything from colds to shortness of breath to belching, and a key to better breath.
» Muslim cultures perfected the distillation process and harder spirits — rum and gin, and transformed the role of alcohol in society.
» In the Americas, alcohol became a driving force in the slave trade, and was used by colonists as a gift for Native Americans, creating consequences that still exist today.
And, then there’s bourbon. We can give thanks to the Scotch-Irish immigrants who brought whisky to America in the late 18th century. Because they distilled wherever they settled, their efforts eventually became the bourbon industry we know today.
Cheers, or as the Danish say, Bunden i vejret eller resten i håret (bottoms up or the rest in your hair)!
Ann Curtis, Managing Editor
P.S. The book Ancient Brew off ers additional history of alcohol fermenting (and recipes!). See the Edible Read Article (link to article is on left).