This morning, Quite Interesting tweeted an obscure beer word that I was not familiar with: Gambrinous. The Collins Dictionary, and others, defines it simply as “full of beer,” but I much prefer the more elegant definition from the Urban Dictionary; “To be content and happy due to a stomach full of beer.”
As today is IPA Day, we should remember that as wonderful as these hoppy beers are, there’s a lot of mythology surrounding them, much of which is exaggerated or simply untrue. Several British beer historians have been working hard to reveal the truth — and dispel the myths — and have largely shown that the standard story of IPAs is simply not accurate. A good place to start is with my friend Martyn Cornell, and his Five facts you may not have known about India Pale Ale. For even more great information, buy his wonderful book, Amber, Gold & Black. Amazingly, he often gets angry comments and e-mails from Americans who prefer their cherished mythology over learning the truth. And there’s also Pete Brown (author of Hops and Glory) and Ron Pattinson, too, who have taken a good look at IPA’s history.
I’m starting to think we should lose the “India” in IPA and replace it with “Imperial,” although I know some people have a hard time with that modifier, too. But in a sense, an IPA is an imperial version of a pale ale, so it seems like it would work; and it would allow an Imperial Pale Ale to remain an IPA. Furthermore, Double IPAs and Triple IPAs could continue to be called by those names, with a minimum of fuss, although we’d have to ditch Imperial IPA in favor of Double.
To me, the most exciting thing about IPAs these days is that IPA is no longer simply one kind of beer, if indeed it ever was, but instead has fractured into numerous varieties. As I detailed in my latest newspaper column, IPA Day, there is currently American-style IPA, English-style IPA, Imperial/Double IPA, Triple IPA, Black IPA (or Black Ale), White IPA, Rye IPA, Belgian IPA (or Belgo-IPA), Farmhouse IPA, Wild IPA, IPL, Red IPA, herbal IPA, spiced IPA, Session IPA, West Coast IPA, San Diego IPA, Single Hop IPA, and who knows how many others. I’m sure someone is working on a Quad IPA right now. Can a Fruit IPA be far behind? But whatever kind of IPA you hoist today, enjoy the hop flavors in it, secure in the knowledge that there are more different beers being called an IPA than at any other time in history. To me, that’s certainly worth celebrating. Happy IPA Day!
This week’s work of art is by a Dutch Artist, Jacob Jardeans, who was better known in his own time than he is today. Unlike his contemporaries, Rubens and Van Dyck, Jardaens never left Antwerp or found the success that they did. But in his hometown, he was one of the most popular artists. He painted a lot of allegories and mythological pictures, such as The Satyr and the Peasants, seen below, which was created around 1640.
The portrait includes a peasant and his family, along with a satyr and a servant is bring beer. The satyr’s face is odd, almost seems to mocking his hosts. But it’s the peasant’s face, bursting with food, that has the really strange expression. He looks like he was caught mid-bite in a snapshot.
Curiously, Jardaens also painted a very similar scene, the main difference being the canvas is a bit wider to accommodate more area, and two more children, though the satyr has been replaced by another man (another peasant?) who’s draining his own mug of beer. The second painting is known as “Eating Man” but I don’t know if it was painted before or after the other one.
You can read Jardaens biography at Wikipedia or at the Jacob Jardaens official website. And you can see more of his work at Olga’s Gallery, at the official website gallery and the Web Gallery. And there are links to even more paintings at ArtCyclopedia.
Here’s a very interesting piece (shared by Maureen Ogle; thanks Maureen) by Rachel Laudan, and excerpted from the book The Gastronomica Reader. It’s all about the myths of how food used to be in the “good old days” and how many positive improvements to our health and well-being were a direct result of food production and processing becoming more modern and industrialized. The article was reprinted in the Utne Reader as In Praise of Fast Food. It’s pretty thought-provoking.
Laudan concludes with this:
Nostalgia is not what we need. What we need is an ethos that comes to terms with contemporary, industrialized food, not one that dismisses it; an ethos that opens choices for everyone, not one that closes them for many so that a few may enjoy their labor; and an ethos that does not prejudge, but decides case by case when natural is preferable to processed, fresh to preserved, old to new, slow to fast, artisanal to industrial. Such an ethos, and not a timorous Luddism, is what will impel us to create the matchless modern cuisines appropriate to our time.
Friday’s ad is an old one, for Budweiser, from either 1904 or 1906. It’s a “modern” interpretation of the Greek myth of Ganymede. It shows Ganymede instead of introducing mead, as the legend goes, to the gods, instead introducing them to Budweiser. It was apparently published in Theater Magazine.