Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Same as it ever was

As we're getting ready to help host a German-themed fest this coming weekend (complete with kölsch keg Nr. zwei), it's fun to read this recent synopsis of the history of brewing by the ancient tribes of the Teutonic forests. Quotes taken from Roman literature of the Iron Age speak to disposition that's certainly traveled the 2,000 year trip down the DNA ladder to the genetic code I call my own, such as one from Tacitus that observes:
"No other people ... were inclined to enjoy so much the art of banqueting and entertaining as the Germans, and it was customary for them to invite strangers into their homes to share a meal and a brew."
What's also enjoyable to learn about is the slow but steady acceptance of the beer (if not the people) of the Germani by their next-door neighbors, the Romani. What started for them as an indication of their barbarianism (what, no wine?) and a source of derision became not only an accepted part of northern Roman living but a symbol of strength and the power of nature. From Julian the Apostate (author of other late-pagan Roman comedies like Misopogon, or "The Beard-Hater") comes this little ditty (sung to the tune of "Baby Got Back"):
"This drink is not from Dionysus! What makes beer reek of goat [goat!], while wine has the scent of nectar [nectar!]. The Celts' invented it from ears of barley, because they have neither grapes nor a nose [no nose!]. Beer is not a child of the ethereal gods, but just plain grain [word, yo]."
Whereas at the exact same time, the Roman's word for beer, still in use in Spanish as cerveza, was "cerevisia", derived from Ceres (goddess of growing; gives us the word "cereal") and vis (Latin for "strength"). And so it is - beats Wheaties any day, I'd say. It's the Teutonic way!



Post a Comment

<< Home