Jump to content

 

Photo

The absinthe experience in Spain


  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 Jay

Jay

    Advanced Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,020 posts

Posted 28 May 2011 - 08:03 PM

Earlier today, my girlfriend and I were discussing how absinthe was never banned in Spain, although it largely went out of fashion beginning in the 1930s and '40s. However, it seemed to me that there was precious little in the way of Spanish non-fiction, literature or popular culture from that period which centered around absinthe. Is anyone aware of anything of the sort (particularly non-fiction books)?

#2 Brian Robinson

Brian Robinson

    Shabba

  • Advisory Board
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 12,825 posts

Posted 28 May 2011 - 08:10 PM

Quite a bit if Spanish literature includes mentions of absinthe. However, many people mistakenly search for keywords 'absinthe' or 'absenta'. Instead, try looking for 'ajenjo'.

Hemingway wrote about it during his stay in Spain as well, but I'm sure you already knew that.
Answers to common newcomer questions.

List of WS articles from across the web.


Help other absintheurs and newcomers by submitting a review. Click here to go to the main review page to submit your entry.

Rantings of a DC Gourmand.
WS on the Mutineer Blog!

#3 Jay

Jay

    Advanced Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,020 posts

Posted 28 May 2011 - 08:21 PM

Damn, and here I'd been thinking I was ahead of the game earlier by seaching for "absenta". Thanks for the tip, Brian!

Oh, and yes, I was indeed aware of the Hemingway connection, but it's always good to mention for those who aren't. I've often found myself wishing that Fitzgerald was the one who'd focused on it, as I prefer his work to Hemingway's, but hell, at least it wasn't Stephanie Meyer :devil:

#4 baubel

baubel

    Hued-pottymouth

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,736 posts

Posted 28 May 2011 - 09:50 PM

In the fiction story [i"Pecado de Omisión", by Ana Maria Matute, an author from Barcelona, there's a reference or two regarding a character drinking a "copa de anís". In the foot noted-version in [i]Aproximaciones: Al estudio de la literatura Hispaníca[/i] sixth edition, the drink is defined as a "licorice-flavored liqueur". Although not a direct reference to absinthe, it is a reference to some members of Spain drinking alcoholic anise drinks. I don't know when that story was first published, but Matute was born in 1926.

As far as non-fiction goes, I think Hemingway wrote a memoir type book specifically about his experiences in Spain, I think it's called Death in the Afternoon. I haven't read it and think it mostly deals with bullfighting, but there may be some references to absinthe in there. Hope that helps. :cheers:

Edited by baubel, 28 May 2011 - 09:51 PM.

A little technological fix to a spiritual problem.


#5 Père Ubu

Père Ubu

    Veni Vidi Bibit

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,572 posts

Posted 29 May 2011 - 11:59 AM

Reading wikipedia makes it look like absenta means the booze, and ajenjo means the herb.

#6 Luisito

Luisito

    Newcomer

  • Neophyte
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 31 May 2011 - 11:56 AM

Reading wikipedia makes it look like absenta means the booze, and ajenjo means the herb.


You're right, Miguel!... well, at least today...

Traditionally, in Spanish, "ajenjo" used to refer to both the herb and the booze (like "absinthe" in French). A more or less recent incorporation to the Spanish language is the word "absenta", to refer to the booze. This word is borrowed from Catalan (in which it also means only the booze). So the word "ajenjo" was relegated to refer only to the herb.

But, like I said, it's more or less recent. That is why in the classic works of Spanish literature you will not find any reference to "absenta" and the word "ajenjo" is used to refer both to the herb and the beverage.

It's also related (to some extent) to the location of the speaker. In Spain, no one will refer to the beverage as "ajenjo"; but in Latin America, some (especially the elderly) might use "ajenjo" along with "absenta" to refer to the beverage (and of course, the plant's name is always "ajenjo").

Hope that helped.

Luisito

#7 Père Ubu

Père Ubu

    Veni Vidi Bibit

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,572 posts

Posted 31 May 2011 - 12:06 PM

Makes sense. Until recently, Catalunians and the southern French spoke the sort of the same language, known as occitan. I wish I could chat with my grandfather and great grandfather about it, but they passed 31 and 111 years ago. Regretfully the 90 year gap in the history of absinthe has erased, or obscured, many customs.
I would hope an enterprising Argentinian would use the more alpine areas of Argentina to produce a good quality absinthe again.

#8 LadyCarmilla

LadyCarmilla

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 190 posts

Posted 01 June 2011 - 12:23 AM

Traditionally, in Spanish, "ajenjo" used to refer to both the herb and the booze (like "absinthe" in French). A more or less recent incorporation to the Spanish language is the word "absenta", to refer to the booze. This word is borrowed from Catalan (in which it also means only the booze). So the word "ajenjo" was relegated to refer only to the herb.


As far as I am informed, Luisito is right. I have not heard anybody call the drink "ajenjo".
"Absinthe is the aphrodisiac of the self. The green Fairy who lives in the absinthe wants your soul. But you are safe with me" - Gary Oldman as Dracula

#9 LadyCarmilla

LadyCarmilla

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 190 posts

Posted 01 June 2011 - 12:32 AM

In the fiction story [i"Pecado de Omisión", by Ana Maria Matute, an author from Barcelona, there's a reference or two regarding a character drinking a "copa de anís". In the foot noted-version in [i]Aproximaciones: Al estudio de la literatura Hispaníca[/i] sixth edition, the drink is defined as a "licorice-flavored liqueur". Although not a direct reference to absinthe, it is a reference to some members of Spain drinking alcoholic anise drinks. I don't know when that story was first published, but Matute was born in 1926.


It could very well have been pastis or a anise drink. We have many brands of anise liqueurs in Spain (La Castellana, Anis del Mono, Anis de Miura...). They were very popular as a digestive drink after meals, specially among women. We had some of these drinks at my grandparents' house.

The anise flavor is not a stranger among Spaniards. A custom from the French, perhaps? It is rare to find people (specially older people) that do not like the taste of anise.
"Absinthe is the aphrodisiac of the self. The green Fairy who lives in the absinthe wants your soul. But you are safe with me" - Gary Oldman as Dracula

#10 Père Ubu

Père Ubu

    Veni Vidi Bibit

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,572 posts

Posted 01 June 2011 - 06:42 AM

In Guatemala anis was used a bit. My favorite was in sweet breads from the western highlands were my grandmother was from.

#11 Babble

Babble

    Advanced Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 546 posts

Posted 01 June 2011 - 03:23 PM

All I know is that on the customs invoices from the packages I've received from Spirits Corner list the contents as ajenjo. Good thing Canadian customs don't know Spanish!!!

#12 Luisito

Luisito

    Newcomer

  • Neophyte
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:07 PM

Traditionally, in Spanish, "ajenjo" used to refer to both the herb and the booze (like "absinthe" in French). A more or less recent incorporation to the Spanish language is the word "absenta", to refer to the booze. This word is borrowed from Catalan (in which it also means only the booze). So the word "ajenjo" was relegated to refer only to the herb.


As far as I am informed, Luisito is right. I have not heard anybody call the drink "ajenjo".


It's funny how some words (or some meaning of some particular word) fall into disuse in European Spanish but remain in use in Latin America.

That's what happened with the word "ajenjo".

In fact, the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (which is the official royal institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language) defines "ajenjo" as both the herb and the beverage.
In the entry for "absenta" it does not provide a definition for the word; it just states that "absenta" is a loanword borrowed from Catalan and refers the reader to the "ajenjo" entry for the definition as the beverage.

I acknowledge that I might be a little biased toward the use of the word "ajenjo" to refer to the beverage in Spanish.

There are a couple of reasons for this (apart from what the "official Spanish dictionary" says) ;)

As LadyCarmilla pointed out, no one in Spain would call the beverage "ajenjo", but in Latin America it is used in that sense (at least by the people who know something about the history of it). Every literary reference to the booze that is more than twenty years old will be speaking of "ajenjo", and not of "absenta" (again, in Latin America).

As someone that grew up in a family of tango lovers I read an heard many references to this mythical beverage called "ajenjo"; therefore, the word "absenta" sounds odd to me.

The other thing is this: today (at least in the English speaking absinthe world, and please some native English speaking absintheur correct me if I'm speaking B.S.), when you read "absenta" you don't think of just absinthe spelled in Spanish.
The word "absenta" now defines a style of absinthe, the typical Spanish style, i.e. heavy on the anise and with very noticeable citrus notes (good amount of lemon balm and coriander).

So, to me "absenta" carries an assumption of a certain style that "ajenjo" does not have.

It's like when a good German absinthe is looked down on just because the German spelling for absinthe is "absinth" (without the "e"), and you automatically think of czechsinthes...

...
...
...

Although now that I read what I just wrote, :g: it seems that I'm over-analyzing things a little too much... :blush:

And it is certainly off-topic.

Anyway... sorry for the blah blah...

:cheers:

#13 OMG_Bill

OMG_Bill

    Complete Absinthe Geek

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 12,191 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 05:50 AM

Anyway... sorry for the blah blah...

Booze makes me do stuff like that.
Some folks may cringe each time I use the term "Booze" regarding these high quality drinks.
I mean no offense. There are bottles of extraordinary booze out there. I've tasted a few. Relax.

#14 Père Ubu

Père Ubu

    Veni Vidi Bibit

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,572 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 07:59 AM

Makes me wonder how come the french name Wormwood liquor in their native tonge (absinthe), the spanish speakers (except for spaniards) likewise with 'ajenjo', but in english instead of calling it Wormwood Liquor. we call it absinthe? :g:

#15 Père Ubu

Père Ubu

    Veni Vidi Bibit

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,572 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:01 AM

...And it is certainly off-topic.

...... sorry for the blah blah...

:cheers:


That makes it official, you are definitely one of us now. :cheers:

#16 Luisito

Luisito

    Newcomer

  • Neophyte
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:58 AM

...And it is certainly off-topic.

...... sorry for the blah blah...

:cheers:


That makes it official, you are definitely one of us now. :cheers:



Well... it was very hard for me to digress that much, that's so not me. :rolleyes:

I have a confession to make, I did it just to fit in! :laf:


:cheers:

#17 Ambear

Ambear

    Ermahgerd, Erbsernthe

  • Content Team
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,352 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 10:54 AM

In Guatemala anis was used a bit. My favorite was in sweet breads from the western highlands were my grandmother was from.


Sweetbreads?

Posted Image

or sweetbreads?

Posted Image
Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem

Website | Blog | Twitter


#18 Père Ubu

Père Ubu

    Veni Vidi Bibit

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,572 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:11 AM

Posted ImageThese are the ordinary shecas (or xecas), the ones from Totonicapan are bigger, and richer in both texture and flavor, specially from the anise.

#19 Ambear

Ambear

    Ermahgerd, Erbsernthe

  • Content Team
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,352 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:13 AM

So, not offal then. Check.

Could be good though...glands with anise flavor...
Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem

Website | Blog | Twitter


#20 Père Ubu

Père Ubu

    Veni Vidi Bibit

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,572 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:19 AM

What Guatemalans consider bread most folks consider cookies or cakes. A lot of our delicasies are deemed either odd, or gross, by outsiders. :)
We consider refried black beans a necesary staple, to be present at all meals. Kinda like butter.

Anyhoo shecas hold a near and dear place in my heart, specially the ones from Totonicapan where my grandmother was from.

Edited by Miguel, 02 June 2011 - 12:33 PM.



0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Copyright © 2014 The Wormwood Society Absinthe Association