23 January 2006

Eat, drink and be berry

I found this: On their third day in the New World, sometime in July 1584, Sir Walter Ralegh's reconnaissance party under Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe met three natives. Having no language in common, the two groups quickly resorted to the universal media of polite discourse: food and drink.

Barlowe did not record what beverages the Indians served him and his companions, but he did say that the Indians customarily drank wine “while the grape lasteth” and water “sodden with Ginger [sic] in it, and blacke Sinamone [perhaps dogwood or magnolia bark], and sometimes Sassafras, and diuers other wholesome, and medicinable hearbes.” (Black drink, made mostly or exclusively of scorched yaupon leaves, was common throughout the region, but the spiced beverages Barlowe describes were not, and wine, if he was not mistaken, was probably unique in the Western Hemisphere.)

Text based on “Indian Food and Cooking in Coastal North Carolina 400 Years Ago,” by David Stick; edited and expanded by lebame houston and Wynne Dough

And this: The Indians of the Americas never distilled alcohol from plants; however, naturally fermented beverages were utilized in some places. Fruits of various cacti were sometimes fermented by Indians in Arizona to make a wine (H. E. Driver 1961). Unlike the Indians in many other parts of the Americas, those of northern North America did not adopt maize (corn) as a source for an alcoholic beverage before the conquest. This was remedied sometime later by people of European descent who used maize to prepare a whiskey that became known as bourbon (after Bourbon County, Kentucky), and this is the only distinctive important contribution of northern North America to the world's alcoholic beverages. A beer from persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) was reportedly made by Indians in the East (U. P. Hedrick 1950). The early colonists tried to make wine from the native grapes in eastern North America without much success. The Old World grape (Vitis vinifera) was successfully introduced into California by the Spanish and became the basis for the development of the wine industry in the United States.

On a personal note: I often have water sodden with Ginger in it.

(Ginger is native to southeast Asia, was brought to Spain, and then America, by the Spanish in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is now commercially cultivated in tropical regions of the United States, India, China, and the West Indies.)

And another little tidbit, Mythbusters proved that ginger taken for seasickness is an effective remedy, (which I’ve known for years) as is the heavy hitting Dramamine et al, type drugs. (Dramamine is a close cousin to Thorazine.)

You decide: Ginger or mind altering medication with these as some of the more mild “side effects”
  • difficulty breathing
  • closing of throat
  • swelling of lips, tongue, or face
  • hives
  • drowsiness or dizziness
  • restlessness, excitation, nervousness, or insomnia
  • blurred or double vision
  • dry mouth, nose, or throat
  • decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • difficulty urinating
  • an irregular or fast heartbeat

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