Sorry for the woe-is-me attitude in the last past few posts of mine, but no more! And what better way to cheer me and everyone else up than a little history of one of the blues’ favorite things–alcohol! I recently finished reading A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage. I’m sure many of you noticed that the book was on my “currently reading” list for a very long time. Like the biography of Gypsy Rose Lee it was very interesting, but not an I-can’t-put-it-down kind of book. The History of the World in Six Glasses starts with beer, then moves to wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola. I’m pretty sure I highlighted 3/4s of the book and will share some of the more interesting factoids, starting first with beer.
First of all, I had no idea that beer was so old. I always figured that wine was the oldest alcoholic beverage, but the fermentation of wheat and other grains was accidentally discovered by peoples in the Fertile Crescent. Early beer was drunk from a large communal bowl via a straw and often had bits of grain and other floaties. After the lovely beer picture are some direct quote facts from the book.
“It seems likely, however, that both bread and beer were derived from gruel. A thick gruel could be baked in the sun or on a hot stone to make flatbread; a thin gruel could be left to ferment into beer. The two were different sides of the same coin: Bread was solid beer, and beer was solid bread.”
“The obvious conclusion was that beer was a gift from the gods.”
“Most references to drunkenness in Mesopotamian literature are playful and humorous…Similarly, Sumerian myths depict the gods as very fallible, human characters who enjoy eating and drinking, and often drink too much.”
“writing was originally invented to record the collection and distribution of grain, beer, bread and other goods.”
“Toasting someone’s health before drinking beer is a remnant of the ancient belief in beer’s magical properties.”
I don’t know about all y’all, but I still think that beer is kind of magical. Yum yum yum.