spirit possession

Fière de ses Racines.


on the topic of “food and the imaginary,” i recently picked up a bottle of Salers Gentiane. knowing nothing about it, but always eager to support the SAQ’s (minimal, but improving) efforts to bring weird bitters and apératifs into Québec, i did now allow myself to be put off by the startling all-purpose-cleaner-yellow colour of the drink. indeed, when messing about with bitters – so often little collapsing galaxies of apothecarial innovation/immoderation – one must not shy away from the occasional unexpected hue (green Chartreuse, anyone?).

gentian root is is one of the elements i had been trying to track down for my own bitters experiment. it has a long and laureled history in herbal medicine, for everything from chronic debility to dog bites to “weakness of the digestive organs” and was used as a bittering agent in early beers prior to the introduction of hops. along with quinine, gentian also supplies the core flavours of the bottle of Bonal that i picked up in the summer (it turned out to be something of a disappointment, fetching label aside. i thought it tasted basically like fancy  aromatic prune juice, but i happen to like prune juice, so don’t screw up your mouth at me like that. [a more charitable description may be found here. alternately, in the words of my friend Kinneret, “I could drink a whole glass of this shit.”]).

for all this, i was initially a little nonplussed by the Salers, although the taste is less disappointing than perplexing. i couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but i find it strangely reminiscent of that old chalky banana-flavoured medicine that one was administered as a child. what makes this strange is that it manages to taste like that stuff without actually tasting anything like bananas, prompting me to make, to a room full of people, the moronic pronouncement “this tastes like an absent banana.”

how’s that for “imaginary food”? no one else seems to share my conviction of their similarity, so what makes such an association possible? by what circuitous route is my brain arriving at this mental picture that describes the outline of where a banana should be? of course, the advantage of claiming something tastes like a thing that has no actual referent is that no one can really contradict you. “wise men don’t argue with fools,” and all that..


5 thoughts on “Fière de ses Racines.

  1. It’s a bit startling to return to my computer after a brief vacation to find myself quoted in the National Post—particularly since I made a goddamned typo—but “Nu-Con” or not, it does my ego a lot of good, thank you! And, I have to say, your series of posts there have been excellent and congrats on the gig. Any opportunity to get your wonderful writing out to the masses should be welcomed.

    The chalky medicine you mention in this post made my head fairly vibrate with long forgotten (suppressed?) memories of the stuff. I wonder if your “absent banana” is the result of a memory based more on texture and vague chemical aftertastes than the actual “banana” used to disguise…whatever it was.

    My own memories, I think, have more to do with the chalk you reference. But I had such a strong reaction to the memory, that I’m not even sure I want to try the Salers now. I’m not sure that I could now separate trying that beverage from the memory of that medicine, except in a blind tasting. Which is kind of the dark-side of your “It may call to mind another food, another time, another place…”

    • stillcrapulent says:

      thanks, i really enjoy this sort of conceptual cross-pollenation, since i don’t have many inter-blog relations… i would say don’t hesitate if you have a chance to try the Salers – texturally it is nothing at all like the medicine, and i haven’t found that many who have tried it share my association. there has been the suggestion that perhaps it reminds me of the penicillin taste (more likely amoxicillin, but who knows) of the medicine, but even that is idle speculation. when i first tasted the Salers i found it kind of unpleasant, but it immediately grew on me. although i don’t know if i should attribute it to the medicinal associations (because i think i hated that medicine) or because i hate banana flavoured things, even, apparently, things that don’t actually taste like banana.

  2. Pingback: something lemon - Apartment. Home.

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