PDA

View Full Version : The Green Fairy


Baltimoron
11-12-2009, 02:07 AM
I listened to a great podcast about absinthe (http://media.libsyn.com/media/skepticality/115_Skepticality.mp3) (.mp3 file) today. History, the free market, myth-busting, booze...it had it all. Has anyone seen the green fairy? What are your thoughts on absinthe?

popcorn_karate
11-12-2009, 12:59 PM
less impressive than the hype in my experience.

kezboard
11-12-2009, 04:18 PM
Mine too. But then I've only ever had the Czech kind, which I hear isn't actually real absinthe. I wouldn't be surprised -- the whole absinthe thing there was pretty much cooked up by the advertising industry.

Baltimoron
11-12-2009, 08:59 PM
I've read from most commenters that the Czech method of burning the sugar is counterproductive - it burns up all the flavor and ingredients.

kezboard
11-12-2009, 10:00 PM
I think the problem is that there isn't much in the way of flavor and ingredients to begin with. Apparently the burning the little sugar cube thing was made up by advertisers in the 90s because they needed some sort of preparation to make up for the fact that Czech absinthe doesn't turn cloudy the way real absinthe does. It's usually a sort of awful bluish-green color.

It's interesting that it took the US so long to un-ban absinthe.

Baltimoron
11-12-2009, 10:10 PM
I think the problem is that there isn't much in the way of flavor and ingredients to begin with.

I told my wife about absinthe, and she reminded me that her mother-in-law and she had found what I presume she meant was grand wormwood in the mountains - not an extraordinary event - and had made some rice cakes and liquor with it. Supposedly, I didn't find it compelling then. So, you might be right. Then again, how much charm does gin or vodka have?

It's interesting that it took the US so long to un-ban absinthe.

Actually, what i really found fascinating was the story of how absinthe got banned. It seems the ultimate tale of how vested interests can cut down rivals appealing to politicians when the market delivers a just verdict.

Does this mean California and Australia should start wormwood plantations instead of importing French grapevines? I wonder which plant is most eco-friendly?

kezboard
11-12-2009, 10:50 PM
The comment I made about not having any flavor or ingredients was supposed to be about Czech absinthe, not absinthe in general. I looked up what absinthe actually is, and apparently the difference between the absinthe I've tried and the traditional French kind is that the Czech kind has no anise and fennel -- this is why it doesn't turn cloudy when it's mixed with water -- and isn't distilled the way regular absinthe is. The flavor in absinthe isn't wormwood, but the fennel and such, which is why Czech absinthe tastes so bad. Something that supposedly tastes like wormwood is Malort (http://www.avclub.com/articles/taste-test-jeppsons-malort,2529/), which I can confirm is bad, so bad that there's a Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/groups/malortface) group with people making horrible faces after having drank it. I am in there somewhere.

Anyone who's interested in drinking something in the Czech Republic more exotic than beer should try Becherovka, not absinthe. Becherovka is a sort of bitters that was originally a sort of 19th-century snake oil medicine for what ails you. It tastes like cinnamon and Christmas, and in the words of one former prime minister, "it's good to drink whether in the morning or late at night" (or something like that).

Actually, what i really found fascinating was the story of how absinthe got banned. It seems the ultimate tale of how vested interests can cut down rivals appealing to politicians when the market delivers a just verdict.

The story is that the French winemakers stirred up an anti-absinthe moral panic because they were losing business, right?

Baltimoron
11-12-2009, 11:39 PM
The story is that the French winemakers stirred up an anti-absinthe moral panic because they were losing business, right?

Right! It seems French vineyards are total creatures of the state. Especially, that is, if John Nye's argument about how British tariffs in the 18C compelled vineyards to produce expensive quality wine (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7122?in=20:08&out=30:32). Started in the 18C and then rescued in the 20C, the podcast just made me wonder how much is honest about the average person's taste for intoxicants. Tariffs created expensive wine and factory-brewed and oligopolistic beer. Regulations stigmatized coca and opium. I'm not sure about the history of tobacco consumption. But it seems modern people's tastes are wholly determined by bad government.