Wednesday, October 26, 2011

To Chew, to Gnash the Teeth


I would like to dismiss the audience.

When we were in Bulgaria, on the coast of the Black Sea, we were served a strange liquor, a cousin of Raki I think- it was as clear as a bell, but when you added ice, it formed diamond-like crystals, glittering floating shards like mica fragments thick in your cocktail.  Like a snow globe, but more elegant, and less kitsch.  It tasted like liquorice. 

The audience, tier upon tier, and in the balcony seats too, with opera glasses and strong opinions.  I would much prefer an empty theater, where even the ushers are off duty, where I can hop the backs of the red velvet seats, and run across the cushions, balancing on the armrests and laughing.

The Bulgarian drink- I can't remember the name- but I have been searching for it here ever since, and have never found it.  I brought one bottle back with me- a great party trick, that, to pour this clear liquid over ice and watch everyone's delight as the mica fragments swirled.  I found Pastis, which comes close- the approximate flavor, but no snowflakes.  A slight scum on the surface when ice is added, but no clear glittering shards filling the glass.  I have found virtually everything else I might require here- fourteen kinds of German mustard to go with bratwurst.  Absinthe. Mysterious camphor products from India, which have no business being sold next to food products, but there they are, next to the candy-coated anise seeds and the lentils in the enormous asian grocery store.  Persimmons.  Spotted dick.  No,  seriously, that's an English pudding, it comes in a can and you eat it for dessert.  Best of all, in the midst of an extended camping trip we once stopped in the tiny town of Trinidad, Colorado, an absurd Hollywood back-lot of a stage set, except that this is a real town that has been raked by the sun and forgotten by the rest of the world.  We stopped at the (drive-through!) liquor store for a six pack for the camp fire.  And low and behold, they had a bottle of Akvavit, which was covered with dust and had surely been there for many years.  What was it doing there?  I had never had it, but had been mildly obsessed with it ever since listening to the Steig Larson novels (Larson's hard-bitten detective consumes either black coffee or Akvavit on virtually every page of the series).  We drank it by the campfire, and it tasted like a loaf of rye bread and it was very, very strong.

I don't mean the blog audience, of course.  I don't think that there are any of you out there anyways, and if there were- well, perhaps I prefer not to know.  It's rather nice to collect only for myself, and then toss it out into the either.... like writing a message in a bottle and chucking it into the ocean.  At eleven, I might have had some romantic idea that someone might read the message, and at fourteen, that someone might have been a stranded sailor, his sunburnt muscles rippling in the etc., etc., etc.  The internet is the strangest place.  Because everyone has a voice, it becomes harder and harder to get listened to... you'd have to be a wonderful tactical thinker to get anyone to pay attention to your particular internet thing.  And the speed of the turnover- the flash in the pan quality of the next big new web phenomenon- is rather intimidating.  How are we all supposed to keep up?  And then you realize that everyone is trying to keep up, to figure out the algorithm for cultural success, and that the most interesting people- and perhaps the happiest, or at least I'd like to think so - are tho ones who are just doing what interests them without giving a fuck.  The ones who have dismissed the audience.

I suppose that on some level I must be talking about sincerity.  Because otherwise, why do it?

Oh, and the wanderings about Bulgarian liquors and Pastis- that's 'cause the consumption of the latter is what brought me to this particular ramble.  Hopefully it will still seem coherent tomorrow.

*Mastika Greek: μαστίχα, mastícha; (Bulgarian: мастика, mastika; Macedonian: мастика, mastika) is a liquor seasoned with mastic, a resin gathered from the mastic tree, a small evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean region. The name of the resin, whence the name of the drink, is derived from the Greek "to chew, to gnash the teeth".

1 comment:

  1. Totally weird you posted this, as I found a note to myself about Mastika earlier this week (obviously heard about from you) and was trying to find out more. Magic glitter cocktails!!! We must find some..