Monday, May 29, 2006

The History of Alcohol

well, in my life!

My parents were tea-totallers (what is the origin of that term, anyway?!), so I didn't have a liquor cabinet to raid (my mom had some cheap cooking sherry that she kept up on a very tall shelf and used every 18 months or so - I knew because, being 3-4" taller, she'd ask me to retrieve it for her).

High school (in the late 60s) there was the crowd that drank a lot of beer and puked at parties (the appeal of which has always mystified me) and the crowd that smoked dope, of which I was a part. So I never even tried alcohol until I was out of high school and jamming w/friends and offered a beer on a hot day (yuck, then; now I probably drink a couple of beers a year - certain foods are very nice with beer) and somebody else was drinking some truly disgusting wine like Boone's Farm Apple and I found that tolerable - so I drank cheap, flavored wine in very small quantities.

I think it was probably at a carbo-loading dinner w/my competitive cyclist boyfriend that I discovered chianti is very nice with pasta, and so I began my explorations of red wine, a voyage I am still enjoying.

I rarely drink when I go out, unless a group of us decide to get a bottle of wine with dinner, because I find a decent red wine is excessively expensive by the glass. I used to go to a lot of clubs to hear bands (and friends) perform and the standard was a cover charge with a two-drink minimum. I would either drink Kahlua-and-cream or Tequila Sunrise; I once had a gin-and-tonic that I really enjoyed at a party, but I've discovered since that gins vary a lot and most of them I don't like. Sometimes I'll have a margarita on the rocks at a Mexican restaurant but I had a bad experience w/tequila that greatly diminished its appeal: one night at The Troubadour (seeing Leo Kottke, as I recall) I had my two Tequila Sunrises, came home, went to bed, woke up with the stomach flu - and the taste associated with it was tequila (as close to a "drunk" experience as I've had). Not good.

Don't misunderstand me, I enjoy that warm glow that a certain amount of alcohol provides, but I don't like where it goes shortly thereafter, which is kind of choppy and sloppy and disoriented. I've had many a long, slow dinner w/friends where we drank a couple of bottles of wine over the course the evening, but it just sort of prolonged the glow (and as long as you keep yourself hydrated, the body processes the alcohol quite well); traveling in Europe I would typically order half a carafe of the local red wine (and cheaper than the Coke my ex- drank continually!) and in English pubs it's usually dry cider (scrumpy, if it's available). I love the way Guinness looks, drawn on tap, like rich chocolate milk, and then it separates into that beautiful dark dark brown with creamy head - but I can't stand the way it tastes (such a disappointment to me--).

At home I'll often have a glass of red wine with dinner, because I like it and because it's good for you (well, me), in reasonable quantities, the whole cholesterol-cutting aspect of it, heart-supporting, etc. I think of red wine as a wonderful accompaniment to food (give me a really big mature red with a medium rare steak and I'm one happy puppy).

When recording, I found a little Southern Comfort was good for keeping the vocal cords relaxed and smooth - but it needs to be a VERY little or you end up with one loose singer, by the end of the session. Pitch gone to hell in a handbasket and timing, what timing?

And, to bring the whole thing full circle, a wealthy German industrialist with a wine-cellar par excellence introduced me to ice wine (botrytis), so while I shudder at the thought of cheap flavored white wine, I delight in a very good dessert wine (with fruit and cheese - yum) - but that's an exceedingly rare indulgence.