Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, November 29, 2021

George Washington’s favorite homemade hooch is making a comeback, as slow and excruciating as it may be: Rye whiskey is poised for a rediscovery by the discerning American drinking palate.

Now though, in a turnabout, the prospects for rye have brightened considerably. Fueled by the same sense of curiosity and geeky connoisseurship that gave birth to the microbrew industry, the single-malt avalanche and myriad small-batch bourbons, rye has been resurrected by whiskey lovers who want to preserve its singular, almost exotic essence.

Unlike bourbon, which is characteristically sweet, smooth and rounded, rye has a dry, jangly, brash nature. Its spicy flavors practically dance their way through the mouth. In its simplest form, rye is a little grassy and sour, much like rye bread. With age, it becomes more complex and subtle, weaving spice and caramel flavors over and through the grassiness. Yet it retains its angularity, never quite losing its edginess. A manhattan, made as originally conceived — with rye instead of bourbon — is a completely different cocktail, dynamic rather than soothing, more Harley-Davidson than Cadillac.

I’m looking forward to it, as I go for less-sweeter spirits generally. I just hope this doesn’t compel the White House’s current George to start drinking again…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/29/2006 11:45 PM
Category: Food
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More than the the surprising mechanical sophistication of the Antikythera Mechanism, a discovered ancient Greek artifact dubbed the “world’s first computer”, what strikes me is the tip-of-the-iceberg implications it represents:

[University of Munich scholar Dr. François] Charette noted that more than 1,000 years elapsed before instruments of such complexity are known to have re-emerged. A few artifacts and some Arabic texts suggest that simpler geared calendrical devices had existed, particularly in Baghdad around A.D. 900.

It seems clear, he said, that “much of the mind-boggling technological sophistication available in some parts of the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman world was simply not transmitted further.”

“The gear-wheel, in this case,” he added, “had to be reinvented.”

Which underlines the transitory nature of collective human knowledge and achievement, really. Who says that 99 percent of everything built and established by this present day can’t be wiped out readily, lost to subsequent generations? Having grown up during the darkest days of the Cold War, I recall pretty frequent threats of such a scenario.

Beyond that gloom-and-doom, the Antikythera will find its way into the Greek-pride arsenal of a few of my relatives, who like to expound on such cultural chest-puffing. That arsenal includes, of course, ancient steam engines and automatic doors.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/29/2006 11:27 PM
Category: History, Science
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on the clock
Last time out, I said that I’d set an end-date for this little Enviga-chugging experiment. I mean, I can’t go on downing three cans of this stuff every day.

Ideally, I’d match the time spent in the clinical trials that Coca-Cola and Nestlé conducted during product testing. Unfortunately, I don’t have a source for that information; I’d be shocked if it was longer than a month. If anyone can clue me in, feel free to inform me.

In lieu of that, I’m setting the end of the year — January December 31st, 2006 — as my final day of this Enviga regimen. That would make it a six-week run, ample time to see if the calorie-burning claims of the drink are valid. It also means, naturally, that I’ll likely be bringing in 2007 with an Enviga in hand; I’m willing to sacrifice my traditional champagne in the name of science!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/29/2006 11:07 PM
Category: Food, Science
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