Absinthe is likely to become all the rage again now that Pernod has reintroduced the drink using its original 1805 formula. Should you have been in company with the likes of Charles Baudelaire, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec or Oscar Wilde, it would have been de rigeur. Many European countries have banned it at one time or another because the enticing green liquid is highly intoxicating and considered hallucinogenic. The one exception where banning was concerned is Spain. Spain has never banned the spirit. Yes, it’s a spirit, not a liqueur, as I learned today.
The French coined the term la fée verte (‘the green lady’ or ‘green fairy’), and, while its known associations have most often been with the likes of Wilde and Lautrec, it is described on the Absinthe 101 site as ‘especially democratic. In the 1840s, French soldiers were given absinthe as a field treatment for malaria’. The medicinal and mind-altering aspects are said to come from the inclusion of the herb Wormwood. Latterly, it became associated with appallingly drunken behaviour and scandal, hence the reason for it being banned.
For more on the history of Absinthe, it is well worth visiting Absinthe 101.
I ask you, who could resist a drink that can entail such beautiful trappings as the fontaine pictured below?
I leave you with one thought and that is that Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder. I assumed this was an ‘old chestnut’ but the only reference I can find is to a line spoken in an episode of Californication that was thus entitled. It does sound rather like Oscar. Does anyone know of an earlier use?
Take care and keep laughing!
P.S. I’ve just realised that today in 1900, Oscar Wilde died. He was a stripling of 46.
- The Green Hour (online.wsj.com)
- Shrimp Absinthe (okramagazine.org)
- Where to buy Absinthe in the United States (inflagrantedelicto.memoryspiral.com)
- Charles Baudelaire – “Be always drunken… With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will” (pensaleas.wordpress.com)
- The original absinthe is back: Taste Oscar Wilde, Baudelaire and Picasso’s top tipple | Food & Recipes | Life & Style | Daily Express
- Absinthe Original
- Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder (drstephnsarah.wordpress.com)
- Absinthe Spoon (mortarandthepestles.wordpress.com)