In September, Dave and I are going on a 2-week holiday to Prague. I’m going to eat a dumpling (and a strudel), wear a black leather jacket, and walk on cobblestones. I’ve been asked so many times, “Why Prague?” that I’ve decided to show you.
It’s the Prague Photo of the Day (POD).
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a big drinker.
I am a light-weight, tipsy after one cocktail, and I mourn the absence of a bowl of cereal, buttered popcorn, and feta cheese far more than alcohol now that I’m committed to dino-chow.
Having said that, however, I do really enjoy a beautifully-prepared cocktail in a swanky setting. And because Oscar Wilde and the Romantic composers are among my favorite artists – and because I love anise-flavored liquer – I’ve always been curious about absinthe. Plus, for a ridiculously-square good girl like I am, the forbidden spirit is quite alluring. It’s called ‘la fée verte‘ (the green fairy)… what’s not tempting about that?!
The spirit originated in Switzerland, but became infamous in late 19th and early 20th century France when Parisian artists and writers indulged. Notorious bohemian ‘free thinkers’ like Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Aleister Crowley were devotees.
One critic said:
“Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.”
According to Wikipedia, the horror stories about absinthe’s potency are exaggerated. But by 1915, prudent (or prudish?) minds had banned absinthe in the U.S., France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (which included then-Czechoslovakia).
When the wall came down in the late ’90s, absinthe enjoyed a revival and production started again in France, Switzerland, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Here’s Tony Bourdain playing around with the green fairy in a funny segment on No Reservations.
I love rituals! And drinking absinthe involves a traditional stylized ritual. In Prague, we’ll be enjoying the “Bohemian Method” which uses fire (!) instead of the French ice water method.
A sugar cube, soaked in absinthe, is placed on a slotted spoon over a shot of the green fairy, then it’s set ablaze. The flaming sugar cube is then dropped into the glass, igniting the absinthe. Then a shot glass of water is used to douse the flames and na zdraví! it goes down the hatch.
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