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Inspirational Reads

Friday Morning Latin Lesson: Volume XLIV

October 16, 2009

Ah, it's October. This means that (for us in the northern hemisphere) we're now hurtling toward fall. The leaves are changing. The air is cool. In a lot of places, it's already fucking snowed. October brings to mind thoughts of beautifully colored leaves, frost on the pumpkins, foggy mornings, cool misty evenings, and beer and cleavage. What? I'm talking about Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest is a chiefly German celebration, however, as we're wont to do here in the States, we've decided to embrace any cultural tradition that involves copious amounts of beer, giant sausages and pretzels, and comely wenches in low-cut tops.

Now, the Romans were familiar with beer. Truth be told, most of the ancient world was familiar with beer and it's amazing ability to turn ugly people hot. It is becoming increasingly accepted that humanity did not develop agriculture just to raise grains for the baking of bread. In fact, beer was just as important for early man's survival as was the bread. For one, in order to brew beer, you must boil the water, killing any potential pathogen lurking within the water that could kill you through excessive shitting and the subsequent dehydration that followed. Another, boiling the grains helped to extract out nutrients, thus making them more easily taken up by the body during digestion. Yes, that's right: for early man, beer was a kind of health drink.

During the time that Rome was just a city state, a kingdom and a Republic, beer was also an important drink. It was enjoyed by all levels of Rome's citizens, but it was especially favored among the lower classes. However, after the Punic wars and the sacking and destruction of Carthage, Rome just happened to own all the best areas around the Mediterranean for growing grapes. With thirsty tongues willing to pay good money for wine, the leadership in Rome--enjoying their full treasuries--decided to turn their noses up at beer and leave that for the savages to the north...in modern-day Germany.

And the Germans couldn't have been happier. Oh sure, they enjoyed the wines, too, but beer was their specialty. And, while the Romans had the market cornered on wine grapes, the people of north central and northeastern Europe had a different plant to use for their alcoholic beverage of choice: hops. Hops prefers to grow in the middle latitudes, where the year is typically a bit more cool and a bit more wet. Areas across the Low Countries and through Germany (they also grow pretty well in Idaho, Washington and Oregon...a certain mildew wiped out the hops fields in New York) are best suited for the cultivation of hops.

The use of hops in beer was first noted in 822, but chances are it had been used before that. Hops, with a lot of various naturally-occurring compounds with fused aromatic rings, serve as wonderful preservatives for beer (they're anti-oxidants--hooray, beer is good for your heart!) and the sharp flavor balancing out the sweetness of the malt is just a bonus. The ever-industrious Germans, with all the ingredients in place, were the first to start brewing on a large scale. You can see why beer is so intricately linked with German cultural identity. In fact, the Germans developed a law--Reinheitsgebot--that dictates that the only ingredients allowed in beer are water, hops, malt and (later, when they figured out what it was) yeast. It might go without saying, but the Germans take their beer seriously.

Originally, Oktoberfest was a celebration of the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria with Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and was held in Munich in 1810. It was the beginning of various unifications that would bring about the modern country of Germany. According to various stories, Ludwig was so excited about his upcoming nuptials that he ordered a special lager be brewed in honor of his lovely bride. This brew had a special mixture of spices and flavorings in it and was then placed in caves to age over the summer. The resulting beer, called a märzen, is the brew most identified with modern Oktoberfest styles of beers (usually lumped under the title of "seasonals" by clueless bar owners).

Wow, all that typing and historical context has made me thirsty. Better limber up my tongue and jaw!

Cogito sumere cervesiam alterum!

Pronounced: "Cog-gee-toh soom-air-ay care-way-see-om awl-tair-oom!"

Translation in the hovertext! The delicious, delicious hovertext...


Alternatively, you could also say "Cogito sumere potum alterum!" This would be in case beer is not your drink, or you've angered the gods and have developed an allergy to hops, rendering you unable to drink the sweet nectar of the hops vines.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I need to go curl up on the floor into the fetal position and cry.





*Therefore, let us drink! And, I would love to suck your breasts...

17 comments:

mo.stoneskin said...

I'm going to start with a clever witticism:

I like beer.

Um, not so clever I guess, or witty, but...

Actually while October doesn't make me think of beer, I do love German beer. As a beer lover I find it hard to say what my favourites are (too many, too variable), but I love German beers. A local near me does Paulaner on draught, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

otherworldlyone said...

Boo beer. Yay boobies.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Is it bad that I am craving a Leinenkugel before nine in the morning? Ohh, I know it's brewed in Wisconsin or something, but whatever, it's my fave.

I vow to expand my beer horizons this October, and to henceforth show more cleavage while holding my stein.

Moooooog35 said...

I'd totally slip those chicks my schnitzel.

I know it's not Latin, but I don't care.

Scope said...

So, could you drink a non-hopped beer?

Technically, I guess that would mean it was "deflowered", which would work well for this blog. Do the Belians do any? They love to put weird stuff in there beer, probably in an unwise move to piss of the Germans.

Oh, and it used to be only 3 ingrediants to make beer. When the law was originally written, they hadn't discovered yeast.

carissajaded said...

I still kind of like to think of beer as a health drink. And after reading this, I am fully committed to making my day off today at the state fair all about the celebration of Octoberfest. I may not have german roots, but I love beer...and that's enough for me.

JenJen said...

Pretty sure you know everything about everything.
At least beer, Greek mythology, Latin shtuff, and breasts.
Breasts should have been first on the list I think.

I'm medicated.

Samsmama said...

I don't have much to contribute since I don't like beer. Guess I'll just tickle myself and send some pictures.

Chemgeek said...

Beer and cleavage. Two things I care deeply about.

red said...

I feel sad for you and your allergy to hops.

Elliott said...

No beer? I will cry a little for you when I enjoy my next barley pop, perhaps even re-enacting a line from a bad C&W song.

In other news of the obvious, dirndls rock.

Wonderful said...

I think happy hour is calling my name now.

Ellie said...

Beer. Bleagh. Breasts...mmmm

adrienzgirl said...

I stopped by from Travis' place. He gave you an award for using "big words", apparently rednecks from OK have dictionaries too, who knew?

Lisa-tastrophies said...

I love Oktoberfest! It's the one time of year I get to say "SUCK IT!" to all my Irish buddies who think that because they have one day of drinking in March that they are the king of the drink. Being of German mix heritage, I love the idea that I can "legally" drink for 30 days and blame it all on my roots.

Glücklich, meinen Freund trinkend!!

Lisa-tastrophies said...

And P.s. You are the only Irish person who gets a pass on the Oktoberfest vs. St. Paddy's Day rivalry, since I know your drinking skills are up to par.

Nej said...

Reinheitsgebot - I really must learn German, it's so fun!!

I'm not a beer drinker. I try every one that Mot orders, thinking maybe that will be the one. But alas, no dice.