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The Devil's Picnic

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Helen Mirren was pretty hot (and very naked) in "Age of Consent" filmed in 1969, and she's been a longtime member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

 

There, are you happy now? :harhar:

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Reminds me of a festival I worked years ago in El Paso, 'The Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival'.

One of their claims was that they went through 2000 punds of balls a day. :shock: for a week!

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Ha, ha, ha - I hope no one will kill me for reviving a really old thread. And bringing it back on topic - I'm not sure which is the greater transgression around this joint!

 

Anyway, I just finished reading the chapter on absinthe in Taras Grescoe's book "The Devil's Picnic." When I searched for his name and found this thread, it seemed no one had actually read the book. (Or at least posted anything after reading it.) So here's a quick review:

 

Based on just the one chapter I've read, I must say it's delightful! He starts out having a flaming glass in a bar in Spain and thinking he's finally experienced absinthe, and winds up in the Val-de-Travers (before the re-legalization) chasing down clandestine la bleue. On the way to becoming educated, he visits François Guy, Marie-Claude Delahaye at the Musée de l'Absinthe, and several other colorful characters. He's a wonderful, witty, and charming storyteller, and even though I only borrowed the book from the library to read the absinthe chapter, it was so much fun, I may read the whole thing.

 

One of my favorite quotes: "I tried a bottle of Hill's in Vienna. It look like Windex, tasted like Listerine, and came on like agricultural rum. Overproof vodka, I concluded, spiked with food coloring."

 

There were several historical notes that I wasn't aware of. For example, he points out that one of the reasons absinthe was banned in France (he also talks about the wine industry's problems after phylloxera, the worldwide temperance movement, and the Lafray killings) was that, at the peak of absinthe's popularity, French women first began consuming alcohol in public, which apparently was considered scandalous. Sacré bleu!

 

Here's an interesting tidbit about the Pernod fire in 1901 which (I didn't know this) was started by a lightning strike:

 

A quick-witted employee, fearing an ethanol-fueled inferno, opened the vats, emptying a million liters of Pernod's highest-quality absinthe into the Doubs. As the factory burned, the river took on a distinctly opaline hue, and between turns at the hose, firemen filled their helmets with a pre-mixed dose of the Green Fairy. Two and a half days later, a geologist traveled several kilometers downstream and discovered that what had been thought to be an entirely different river was redolent of anise - proving definitively that the River Loue was merely a resurgence of the Doubs.

 

Sprinkled with lots of nice tales and quotes from the likes of Hemingway, Wilde, Jarry, etc. I must say, it was quite an entertaining read. I give it two thumbs up! :thumbup:

 

(Check your local library.)

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I lived in Spain three years myself while in the Navy, and the first joke about Spain I learned was the following:

 

Don Diego was a great aficionado of the bullfight, even going so far as to dine on the slain bulls after the bullfights were over. He had a favorite restaurant nearby that sold meat from the bulls, and Don Diego would always order the bull's testicles, which he had developed a maniacal taste for.

 

One day after the bullfight Don Diego was at his favorite restaurant in his favorite chair at his favorite table, waiting for his favorite dish to arrive. When it did, Don Diego was startled to see two small, shrivelled little testicles in place of the large, tender testicles he was used to eating. He called the waiter and asked for an explanation. The waiter went to consult the manager of the restaurant, and returned a few minutes later.

 

"Don Diego, the manager is sorry about the testicles today," he said, "but you must remember, today the bull won!"

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I read the book, a few months ago, originally for the absinthe chapter but read it in order instead of jumping to that part. I liked the book, but I think a few of the parts were exaggerated for effect, but I'm not sure.

 

Two parts that really got to me and almost made me cry (it might just be me, but some much bad stuff happens nowadays I usually just don't care any more) were, in the first chapter: talking about the 'fresh-out-of-high-schoolers, let’s get way to shit-faced and almost die' (specifically a few antidotes about someone falling off a bus and being hit by another, and a girl almost dieing of alcohol poisoning, while she is being drawn on with a magic marker.) And in the chapter in Singapore: the second to last section of the chapter, I could just about feel the heavy depression and sadness and could fully understand why so few people are having children.

 

Anyway-good book I would recommend it, and not just for the absinthe bit but the whole thing, if you are interested in food and/or cultural prohibitions/tolerances, it's a must. Interesting read and written in a good conversation like style.

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(specifically a few antidotes about someone falling off a bus and being hit by another, and a girl almost dieing of alcohol poisoning, while she is being drawn on with a magic marker.)

 

No anecdotes about improper word usage though, eh? :tongue:

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