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And the Gold Goes to…

By: Courtne

I don’t know about you, but all this 2012 Olympic gallantry has me reaching for a bottle of Gin...

and heading over to my local fish monger to try my hand at fish and chips!

There’s something about the Olympic Games that makes us feel a little more patriotic than we normally do.  Suddenly, wearing red, white and blue well past the Fourth of July is a totally cool thing to do.  And let’s just admit we feel a little bit more “us” and a little less “them” just for these next two weeks.  Perhaps we should embrace this thing called the global community beyond gymnastics, swimming and track, and look further to the cherished nuggets that this years’ Olympic host city can offer our palates.

Let us begin with Gin.  It all started as a medicinal tonic called Genever that was  provided to the British troops as “Dutch courage” (aka liquid courage) in Holland during the Thirty Years war.  The troops took a special liking to this juniper-flavored elixir and brought it back home with them en masse.  In an attempt to bolster the English economy and the quality of gin, the government promoted Gin’s unfettered manufacture, which shockingly led to over production, widespread drunkenness and the entrance of what we call “swill” or poor quality hooch. It quickly became more popular than beer, which ironically was more expensive than a slug of Gin.  Many years later, a new policy was put in place that helped improve the quality, price and respectability of the spirit.  And the rest is history.

There are several styles of gin available today with a strong heritage harkening back to the days of yore. Genever, considered the forefather of gin, is a Dutch style that is sweet, aromatic, lower proof and made for sipping chilled and neat.  Old Tom, scarcely found today, is also one of the original versions with a slightly sweet taste. London Dry emerged as the most popular, crafted with the newly minted continuous pot still and gently enhanced with various flavors. It was coinedLondon Dry primarily because the majority of the distilleries that made it were located in the city of London.  Finally, Plymouth is a full-bodied fruity and aromatic style that is only made by one distillery in the world (they won the Survivor Outlast: Gin Edition as several outlying port cities created their own styles of Gin once London Dry became the behemoth). 

Now, on to the viddles.  Fish & Chips are a British national institution. What do you think of when someone says “Britian”: Big Ben, Harrods, The Queen, The Underground, Becks and… fish & chips!  Its origin also dates back to the 17th century, but they weren’t the inseparable couple they are today.  While chips do not originate in England, (that would be the French) there are claims that fried fish does.  In any case, the English do take credit for marrying them together.  Whether it was the North or the South is still a hotly debated topic to this day.  But once they were wed in edible matrimony, you could find fish and chips on virtually every corner, consumed as a homestyle favorite, an end of the week treat or a late light gnosh.  Long considered a commoner’s food since nourishing the masses during WWI, not much has changed today including the newspaper and brown paper bag it is served in.  What’s the magic combination? Cod.  King Edward potatoes.  Lard.  Salt & Vinegar.  Side of mushy peas.

So while we find ourselves swooning over the countless stories of heroism and athletic prowess, and wondering why we didn’t hang in there a bit longer during those pee wee gymnastics classes, let us raise our glasses to London.  Cheers to the Brits, for one crunchy plate of deliciousness and some fantastic gin to wash it all down.


Posted: July 31, 2012 | Permalink
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