Oscar Wilde, who was famously fond of Absinthe, once said, “After the first glass you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”
Ah, Absinthe also know as la fèe verte - the green fairy which was illegal for years has returned in style.
For a long time it's had a bad rep - the wormwood eats your brain, it led to chronic alcoholism, became the scourge of the 19th and 20th century working classes. While much of that's true, la fée verte, devil in a bottle, has come back relatively danger free. If you don't drive after you drink.
Science, however, proves that absinthe was an undeserving scapegoat. Distilled from anise, fennel and wormwood, it contains a substance called thujone. In massive quantities, thujone could turn a rhinocerous epileptic, which is perhaps why absinthe enjoys a legendary reputation as a mind-altering drug, rather than as a simple - but very strong - drink. The artists of the Belle Époque certainly enjoyed perpetuating this myth. However, absinthe contains only tiny amounts of thujone, barely enough to fell a mouse. It’s the alcohol content, which is sometimes more than 80 per cent proof, that you actually need to worry about, rather than the thujone.
Switzerland, in 2005, legalized distilleries. Who would have thought? Kevin, a co-owner of Green Apple Books in SF, swears by the Swiss Absinthe, goes there and even imports it home for his famous Cassernog (50's casseroles and spiked egg nog) Yule parties. He's got the apparatus and everyone drinks the milky dram along with all the other drinks.
Next week we're having an absinthe tasting chez nous. I'll let you know how it goes :)
Cara - Tuesday