February 2020: The Best of the beverage industry.
No, “Corona” Is Not a Virus
Until very recently, “Corona” was largely associated with a well-known brand of malted beverage. Latin scholars and other experts, with a tear of condescension in their eyes and a touch of pedantry in their tone, would probably have given you a list of learned terms stemming from these now thrice-cursed three syllables. A lab assistant on methamphetamine wrote in his spiral-bound notepad that the Covid-19 virus resembled a “corona”, and suddenly it was the beer Corona that was going viral. What’s the connection? There isn’t one. As with global warming, here again we must point to a clear rise in idiocy. Without in any way denigrating beer lovers, everyone knows the stereotype of the hick with his 12-pack, whether of Corona or not, just like the Frenchman wearing a beret and striped sweater, with a camembert-stuffed baguette and bottle of red under his arm, or the Englishman in a bowler hat, a cup of tea in one hand while the other stirs it with a silver spoon, sitting on the sands of Stone Bay as a giant tsunami approaches, the American in Ray-Bans and Stetson throwing dollars around, the diminutive Japanese, polite and disciplined, the Chinese grand master of martial arts and eater of insects, snakes, bats, cats and dogs ...
The list of cliches could be long (and we’ll refrain from listing the mental images we conjure up of Africans, Arabs, and vice versa); that doesn’t stop them being used instinctively to catalogue the other, because firstly it demands no intellectual effort, and secondly it soothes our uneasy, fragile egos and gives them a sense of security to know that the rather primitive other over there is an idiot. The great levelling of the Internet has been to offer that hick almost instant access to adulterated and contaminated information while conferring on him an aura of manifest prestige. An online search is a true scientific act in quest of knowledge; wondering whether Corona beer is potentially linked to the eponymous virus is to consciously call upon Cartesian doubt.
The King of Sweden’s Wine
While Sweden is cancelling a car rally “due to lack of snow,” it has been announced, with baleful looks, that France will probably lose a third of its wine-producing land. If Europe was united as it should be, we might perhaps have said: “So what? We’ll just plant French vines in Sweden and create elephant reserves in Tarn, Provence, or Ain, where climate conditions, 30 years from now, will be less tolerant to wine-growing, but still favourable to the thick hides of those dumb elephants. However, following the British retreat, the remaining EU members are staring stonily at one another, each looking for an opportunity to build up its own gross national fortune by capitalizing on the other’s misfortune. Thus it is that Sweden secretly dreams of one day becoming a great wine-producing nation and competing with its disgruntled French and Italian neighbours.
The best solution that springs to mind, after having emptied three Penfolds ampoules, would be to restart the Napoleonic Wars, while avoiding stupidly annoying the English or imprudently braving the Russian winter; France will become an empire again, the third to bear the name, and will plant its vines in conquered Sweden, where the royal armouries of Bernadotte, former renegade marshal of the first French emperor, will sell for twice the price of poor batches of wine. Climate change or not, French ingenuity “without which things would be only what they are” still has good days to come.
No More In-Flight Coffee (or Tea)
There have been several articles about tea and coffee on flights. It is rare, even more so in economy class, that beverages served on long-haul flights are any better than the worst microwave-reheated service-station dishwater. Furthermore, it has been scientifically proven that these hot drinks kindly offered by the world’s airlines contain a high concentration of pathogens. It might be best to abstain from in-flight tea and coffee. For those who are bolder or past masters of quibbling, should your stewardess, your seat neighbour, or your own clumsiness scald some part of your body with one or other of these drinks, you might like to know that the fault always, whatever the circumstances, lies with the airline from the moment it is airborne above the vast European landmass.
105 Years on Full-Fat Milk, Cream, Butter, and Whisky
We know about the half-Italian, half-Slovenian author, also a centenarian and a lover of sweet, milky coffee. Today, we’ll be looking at the case of the Englishwoman who is a fan of walking and full-fat dairy products, and who still enjoys a dram of whisky at an age when most people struggle to sip still water infused with flavoured aspartame. It might be said that death is a vicious clown whose flailing scythe reaps with profound injustice, and the best way to hold your own against him, as long as you can, is to forget the advice of your doctor who, let’s not forget is the treacherous and cowardly sell-out who will write your death certificate while holding out his other hand for his mortuary bonus.
Coronavirus: Fennel Tea and Other Remedies
Drinking tea – the most natural tea possible – can help you live to a grand old age ... Not a week goes by without the merits of Her Majesty the Queen of England’s favourite drink being mentioned in the press. It is clear that this drink, like its eternal rival coffee, as part of a healthy lifestyle, is rarely subject to any health warnings, even if you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from a serious illness, even those – more serious yet – solemnly designated “long-term illnesses” as they may take a long time to release you from their grip. Like our antecedents of antiquity, who could read the real truth in the entrails of a roast boar or predict fine weather after rain in the bottom of well-drawn tankards of Cervoise beer, the internet encourages you more than ever to put your faith in good news of any provenance: the Coronavirus can be cured with three cups of fennel tea, just like cancer was with thirty-three litres of carrot juice. If this remedy doesn’t work too well on your particular constitution, you should be aware that there is not currently any official treatment, but that death is not the certain outcome.
A Religious Symbol, a Beer, a Trial, and a Verdict
The Swiss verdict is in. Jägermeister can continue to use its logo, in which you can make out, among the graphics, the symbol of an illuminated cross. While Switzerland is not known for “radical,” French-style interpretations of laicity and takes fairly liberal positions on religious matters, this verdict clearly demonstrates that today’s Europe is inclined to see the sensibilities of believers as a purely private matter. Islam, the latest arrival on the podium of monotheisms “invited” into France is “painfully” learning, to its cost (and often to the cost of others), that a religion is, in relation to earthly justice, just as suspect and dangerous as a Stalinist or far-right political party. While the inappropriate or offensive use of religious symbols is not recent – in a time when blue films were still an art, you may remember not very orthodox nuns up to their eyes in debauchery, lucre, and fornication – we might ask ourselves if it is really beneficial to a society to openly deprecate or mock the religious sensibilities of some of our fellow citizens when we know it is entirely unacceptable to ridicule, discriminate against, insult, or assault current minority tendencies (whether sexual-, ethnic-, cultural-, or gender-based) that were long censored or criminalized when religion itself, allied or not with power, governed social life and laid down the rules for the “best way of proceeding.”
While “divide and conquer” has long been the secret motto of most regents, at a time when political systems are undergoing significant changes, it might be a good time to consider that the only acceptable form of governance, particularly for today’s generations who are not confined to the common spaces of yore and who are more open to new forms of digital universalism, is one that will content itself not with satisfying party or partisans, but one that aligns itself as much as possible with what is fair.
Turning Urine into Alcohol
We all know about turning water into wine, but urine has never made anything flow other than uric acid. This “biological miracle” concerns a lady of venerable age and a surprising symptom of the very rare auto-brewery syndrome. After having accused her of being an inveterate old soak, past-mistress of alcoholism, doyenne of drunkenness, her doctors are now learnedly studying the case of this patient who urinates pure ethanol. The bladder of this lady, who has presented with a hitherto unseen form of auto-brewery syndrome, acts as a fermentation vat, a “beer pouch,” you might say, without intending any offence. How long it will be before a professional in ondinism comes to offer her an opening in the field we couldn’t say! In days gone by, tanneries used to collect urine and pay for it; where there’s pee, there’s brass, and the money could come flooding in if a passing discomfort has the triple advantage of being able to provide inebriation, the pleasure of giving, and the joy of receiving ...
En français :
The Chauvinism Content of Wine
Although we can thank the English for having been able to sell French wine worldwide (and for having cleverly informed the rest of the planet that there was only one wine on earth that was worthwhile ... in exchange the French promised never to invade them via the tunnel and to declare English rock music as an article of intangible cultural heritage), it might be wondered how long this situation will last, based as it is on a stereotype arising from cultural past that would be difficult to reproduce, where it is admitted by all, for the time being, that all good wine must be French even if you come from a non-French country that is a recognized producer of fine vintages. This “established reality” seems at variance with the facts and will, in the long-term, determine the “future prospects” of wine in the world, even if that means bringing crashing down, with a great din of breaking glass and foul-stinking wine breath, the much lauded vision of noble French wine which absolutely has to illustrate the front cover of any respectable wine list.