THE ABSINTHE, A MAUDIT STORY
Is the absinthe going to turn you into the new Rimbaud?
Maybe you had at school a classmate dreaming of being a writer. Well, I had one, and he actually became a writer.
Anyway, as a teenager, acting like a writer meant:
- hanging out in the school hallway, reading Baudelaire and hoping that the love of the moment would look at you
- spending the weekend drowning your sorrows (ok, let’s say …”dip a little bit” your pain in a couple of glasses of Lancers and pretending to be drunk)
- buying all the necessary to prepare the ABSINTHE
The absinthe seemed to be dangerous and miraculous nectar at the same time, which is able to turn a spotty and shy teenager into a suburban maudit.
Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor on the run from the Revolution, distilled the modern absinthe, in 1792 in Couvet, Switzerland.
Ordinaire found in Switzerland the absinthe wormwood (or artemisia). The use of it was known, and Benedetto Carpano used it six years before during the Vermut preparation (which name comes from the German word describing the absinthe wormwood ).
The liquor quickly became well known in Couvet as a cure-all and became Fee Verte, the Green Fairy.
Maybe because of the intriguing name, the French bohemian artists choose the absinthe as their official drink in the late 1800s.
We are talking about a drink of around 60°, with anise (only in the worst cases the star anise is used), wormwood leaves and an infinity of other herbs, different in every distillery. It became in those years (the years of Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, bohémien and flaneur years) a long-lasting symbol through the centuries.
As my writer friend used to do, this is how absinthe should be served: place a spoon with holes over a glass, then add a sugar cube on it and pour some water on the liquor. This way the sugar will melt and give the absinthe the typical milky color. Another method involves the use of the absinthe itself instead of the water, and you should burn the sugar cube (this last option is more cinematographic, but the experts don’t support it).
There are many legends about it, but we are going to talk about its role in the collective imagination (which is more important of what you can think) and the myths in the next article.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)