Thursday, November 26, 2015

Le Jour de Merci Donnant

Art Buchwald was a political columnist and humorist of the 20th century. In the 1950s, while living in Paris, France, he wrote about his expat adventures in that city for the New York Herald Tribune.

In 1953, he wrote a column explaining Thanksgiving to the French: the Pilgrims (Pèlerins) and native Americans (les Peaux-Rouges) in the New World (le Nouveau Monde). For decades afterward, the Washington Post (for whom Buchwald would later write) would reprint the column on Thanksgiving Day (Le Jour de Merci Donnant). Considering recent events, I felt that reprinting it here today might be an appropriate thanks-giving to France, the first ally of the United States. And it's still worth a good chuckle.

One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant. Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart's content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs).The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration. It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant: "Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning. "I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."

Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l'étonnement et la tristesse).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)

Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" (Chacun à son goût.)

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

American tolerance


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The 2015 Tuesday-Before-Thanksgiving edition of #VeggieDag Thursday.

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on an animal-free diet and ecological issues.

Here it is: this year's Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving edition of VeggieDag Thursday.

Mom's Cranberry Relish

    • Cranberries (12 ounces)
    • 1 large unwaxed orange: washed, do not peel.
    • 1 large tart apple: washed, cored, and peeled.
    • 1/8 cup orange juice
    • My 'secret sauce' addition: 2 TBSP Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
    • 4-6 TBSP sugar, more or less, to taste (or —not from Mom: agave syrup, to taste)

    Chop in a food processor. Leave chunky; do NOT over-pulse. Cover and let sit a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
    Mom's Cranberry Relish

    More recipes, from around the web

    • Food 52 suggests cooking with cider.
      Because it shares so many characteristics with wine—from its bright fruitiness and slight sweetness to its balance of tannins and acidity—it follows that cider would make an excellent cooking liquid, and it does, in just about every application you can think of.

    • At Global Vegan Kitchen, Robin Robertson proffers recipes for a complete Vegan Thanksgiving, with beautiful photos.

    • Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post, shares his "Vegetarian dishes for a Thanksgiving table that welcomes everyone."

    • From Doron Petersan at Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats in Washington, D.C.: Vegan Bourbon Pecan Pie (as excerpted by the Washington Post from Petersan's book: Sticky Fingers' Vegan Sweets.

    • Vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving meals, via Lindsay S. Nixon, aka The Happy Herbivore, at Forks Over Knives and at her own eponymous blog.

    • Nana's Lithuanian Kugel, 'veganized.'

    • Chestnut stuffing, from Martha Stewart. Vegan, if you sub for the butter and chicken stock.

    • From her cookbook, Dinner in The Beer Garden, Lucy Saunders suggests Corn & Beet Salad with Walnut Dressing for Thanksgiving
      because it pairs well with sour brown ales that also happen to go well with other Thanksgiving favorites. Substitute 2 cups corn kernels, oven roasted for 15 minutes, for the corn on the cob, if out of season.

    • Isa Chandra Moskowitz at Post Punk Kitchen has the recipe for a vegan Thanksgiving centerpiece: Seitan Roast Stuffed With Shiitakes And Leeks.

    • Serve that with my Stout Mushroom Gravy.
    Stout Mushroom Gravy 05

      • 2 cups vegetable broth
      • 2 TBSP kudzu powder (or arrowroot)
      • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 small onion, chopped
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
      • 2 TBSP, finely chopped fresh sage
      • 1 tsp dried thyme
      • a few grinds of black pepper
      • 6 ounces stout (such as Guinness or 'craft' versions) *
      • 1 tsp marmite **
      • 2 TBSP soy sauce **
      • 1/4 cup dried nutritional yeast

      * I've used Peg Leg Stout from Heavy Seas Beer and Storm King from Victory Brewing. The hoppiness of the latter added another layer of piquancy. In either case, only six ounces are needed, leaving the chef six ounces for personal refreshment. If you're vegan, you would want to avoid Guinness which uses fish-derived isinglass for clarification, even though the brewery has announced its intention to change that procedure.

      ** Soy sauce and Marmite already contain hefty amounts of sodium —as does commercial vegetable stock— so no additional salt needed.

      • It always begins with the onions and garlic. Chop, and then, in a large pan, sautée the garlic in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat for a minute. Add onions and sautée until soft and translucent.
      • Add chopped cremini mushrooms and fresh sage.
      • In a separate bowl, whisk powdered kudzu into the stout. Add to pan with Marmite, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and vegetable stock. Fold all together. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
      • Remove 3/4 of gravy. Process in blender or processor until 'creamy.' Return to pan.
      • Gently stir together, and serve.

    What to drink?

    Should it be wine or beer with the Thanksgiving trough? The former, says Chain Bridge Cellars, a northern Virginia wine shop. The latter, say I.

    Pretty in Pink Saison

    Americans, this Thanksgving, will consume forty-nine million turkeys. Maybe just this once, this Thanksgiving 2015, at least consider this proposition: kill the vegetables but spare the animals. In the 21st century, must we slaughter God's creatures not for need but by choice? Or each other?

    Enough pontificating. Enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

  • Saturday, November 21, 2015

    Pic(k) of the Week: Oliver's conditioned casks.

    Today: a photo only a cask-ale partisan could love.

    Oliver's cask-conditioned ales

    These two firkins (10.8 gallon casks) definitely have seen some use over the years: beat up on the outside but pristine clean on the inside.

    The proof of the latter was indeed the beer on the inside. Brewed and conditioned by the Oliver Brewing Company (in Baltimore, Maryland), the ales were full-flavored, bright, naturally carbonated, and traditional, devoid, as it were, of extraneous, 'non-beer' ingredients. (My parameters for that last requirement appear to have become more forgiving: the strong brown ale on the right was infused with oak spirals.)

    At a cask ale festival, at ...
    Mad Fox Brewing Company
    Falls Church, Virginia.
    7 November 2015.


    Friday, November 20, 2015

    Thank you, Bill Siebel!

    There are many 'rock stars' in 'craft' beer: some deservedly so, some by acolyte acclaim, some self-anointed. The number of real stars is far fewer.

    Despite the Luddite choir currently ascendant in some sections of the 'craft' beer industry, preaching creativity over 'rules', it's the beer educators who are indeed among those true stars, whom we should be celebrating for their essential work in training us, promulgating the zymurgy and technology that advances good beer.

    To name but three:

    • Michael Lewis, professor emeritus of brewing science: the University of California, Davis.
    • Steve Parkes, brewmaster; owner and lead instructor: American Brewers Guild.
    • Bill Siebel.
    For many years, Bill Siebel was chairman and C.E.O. of the Siebel Institute of Technology, in Chicago, Illinois, the oldest brewing school in the Americas. His great-grandfather, a German immigrant, founded the school in 1872.

    Bill Siebel: 1946-2015.

    As an educator and administrator at the school, Bill Siebel wielded influence upon several generations of American-trained brewers: microbrewers (such as this blogger), 'craft' brewers, large mainstream brewery brewers, and just plain ol' American brewers. The school's reputation was global; many foreign breweries sent their employees to be zymurgically educated.

    I remember well my first day there, in the early 1990s. Bill greeted me. I addressed him as "Mr. Siebel." He corrected me, "It's just Bill." My career path changed that day, and it's been beer ever since.

    Bill died earlier this month.

    R.I.P., (and I will say it incorrectly one more time) Mr. Siebel. Thank you for all you have done for the advancement of good beer, in America and globally. Your influence upon us: that is your living legacy.

    Bill Siebel, leader of historic Chicago beer brewing school, dies at 69.

    Bill Siebel was the fourth generation of his family to head [the Siebel Institute of Technology], a Chicago beer-brewing school that has produced tens of thousands of alums with surnames such as Busch, Coors, Pabst, Stroh, and Floyd — as in 3 Floyds Brewing Company.

    It wouldn’t be exaggerating to call him a member of the “First Family” of beer education in the U.S., said Charlie Papazian, president and founder of Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, the nation’s largest.

    Mr. Siebel, who had esophageal cancer, died on November 8, 2015, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital [in Chicago, Illinois]. He was 69.

    Bill Siebel was chairman and CEO of the Siebel Institute of Technology, established in Chicago in 1872 by his great-grandfather, Dusseldorf-born immigrant John Ewald Siebel. It bills itself as the oldest brewing school in the Americas. “There is one, based in Germany, established before us,” said Keith Lemcke, vice president of the Institute, at 900 N. Branch Street.

    “It’s been a continuous run,” Lemcke said, “except for this inconvenient time we call ‘Prohibition.’ ” During Prohibition, it kept going as a school of baking — which, like brewing, uses yeast.

    Siebel Institute students, Lemcke said, have included August Busch III of Anheuser-Busch; John Mallett of Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo; the father and grandfather of Samuel Adams brewer Jim Koch; and Greg Hall, a brewmaster at Goose Island Beer Company and son of Goose Island founder John Hall.

    “The contributions that the Siebel Institute has made to brewing — and to training craft brewers — in its long history, are far too numerous to count,” said Koch of Samuel Adams. “I’m a sixth-generation brewer, and my father graduated from Siebel in 1948 and my grandfather in 1908. . . . The industry has lost a great one.”

    The family school is “the longest-living institution that has served as an educational institution for brewers in the United States,” Papazian said. “They’ve gone through a lot of transitions, from the small breweries going out of business in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, to embracing the small craft brewers that were emerging in the ’70s and ’80s, welcoming them, and offering them educational opportunities. Bill was involved with that transition.”

    “Many of our employees are graduates of Siebel Institute, and the impact the school has made on the beer community is impressive,” said Ken Stout, general manager of Goose Island Beer Company. “A great industry leader has been lost, and we’ll miss him dearly.”

    Bill Siebel and his brother, Ron, grew up near Devon and Caldwell in Edgebrook, and at the Southwest edge of the Evanston Golf Club in Skokie, where one of the tees was behind their home. A highlight of their youth was spending summers with their mother, Mary, at Paradise Ranch near Colorado Springs, while their father, Raymond, commuted back and forth from the Siebel Institute in Chicago. The Siebel boys became accomplished horseback riders.

    They attended grade school at the old Bishop Quarter Military Academy in Oak Park. Bill Siebel graduated from Florida’s Admiral Farragut Academy and the University of Miami. He served in the Navy, rising to lieutenant, before returning to Chicago — and the family beer school — in 1971, said his wife, Barbara Wright Siebel.

    Both brothers attended the Siebel Institute, where a variety of classes, diplomas and certificates focus on yeast, malt, fermentation, biological science, quality control, engineering and packaging. “One of my classmates in 1967 was August Pabst, and August Busch III was a few years before,” Ron Siebel said.

    For decades, the school and laboratory were located at 4055 W. Peterson, where the Siebels had a brewing library and a second-floor bierstube with heirloom steins.

    After their father and uncle sold the business, “Bill and I were successful in getting it back,” Ron Siebel said. “We got it back in the family hands, and it stayed there until [Bill] retired and wanted to liquidate his holdings in the institute.” Today, the school is owned by Lallemand, a Canadian yeast company.

    Ron Siebel focused on selling products such as stabilizers, which preserve clarity in beer. “Bill was ‘Mr. Inside.’ He was very good with numbers,” his brother said. Because of him, “The business was always on a steady course.”

    Bill Siebel retired in 2000, Lemcke said.

    He restored himself and reveled in nature, hiking, and watching birds and animals. For their honeymoon, Bill and Barbara Siebel canoed nine days on the U.S.-Canadian Boundary Waters. And for 20 years, they canoed in Ely, Minnesota, where he enjoyed spotting bear and moose. He also loved reading Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.

    A memorial service is planned from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on November 22, 2015, at the Siebel Institute of Technology, 900 N. Branch Street [Chicago, Illinois].
    Chicago Sun-Times
    16 November 2015.


    Monday, November 16, 2015

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 44/45, 2015.

    Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
    A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
    of news of beer and other things.

    Weeks 44/45
    25 October - 7 November 2015

    • 5 November 2015
      In a trend of the last few years, breweries from the U.S. west have opened second brewing facilities on the east coast. But not vice versa. Until now. Sweetwater Brewing of Atlanta, Georgia, has announced its intention to open a brewery in California, in 2017.
      —Via Brewbound.

    • 4 November 2015
      The sugar industry has sued high fructose corn syrup producers in federal court for falsely claiming that their product is just as healthful as sugar. Corn syrup producers have countered suedhit back, arguing that the sugar industry has long engaged in a campaign of misinformation. Big Sugar is seeking $1.5 billion in damages. Big Corn Syrup is seeking $530 million. Jurors will decide.
      —Via Los Angeles Times.

    • Cantillon Iris ... for Thanksgiving
    • 3 November 2015
      Belgian lambic brewer, Cantillon, says climate change shortening brewing season, forced to temporarily halt early November production because of an unusually warm autumn. Jean Van Roy, owner of Cantillon:
      “Ideally [the wort] must cool at between minus 3C and 8C. But climate change has been notable in the last 20 years. My grandfather 50 years ago brewed from mid-October until May – but I’ve never done that in my life, and I am in my 15th season.' Last year we didn’t start until November 10,” he said, adding that they never go past the end of March. “We only have five months to brew and our production is very limited. If we lose a week we can survive but three weeks or more would be more complicated.”
      —Via The Guardian.

    • 3 November 2015
      Cité du Vin, a "modernistic museum of culture and civilization of wine around the world," to open in Bordeaux, France, in 2016.
      —Via The Drinks Business.

    • 3 November 2015
      A timeline of the demise of Baltimore, Maryland's National Bohemian beer.
      —Via YFGF.

    • 02 November 2015
      There are only two major American can manufacturers. Are they cutting off supply to smaller 'craft' breweries?
      —Via Forbes MergerMarket.

    • 31 October 2015
      The idea of moderation in brewing is not the idea of capitulation, of surrender, of turning your back on the way forward. It's a way of seeking silence in between the gaps that modern life manages to create - it's a polite cough, a feather stroke on the inner thigh, a reflective passage from an étude by Chopin, the intermission between nothing and I love you. And sometimes we need beers like that in the way we also need beers that cackle and burn like a martyr's bonfire or ululate across the night air like a trident in its tracks or even leave us unsure of what we're tasting. Like an Earth on its axis beer also needs balance.
      —Via Adrian Tierney-Jones, at Called to the Bar.

    • 29 October 2015
      The English malting barley that wouldn't die. The fifty-year history of Maris Otter.
      —Via Total Ales.

    • 28 October 2015
      "Hops can take 10 to 12 years to develop before they’re marketed to breweries." Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva and Alpine Beer Company Brewmaster Pat McIlhenney examine the hop harvest in the Pacific Northwest.
      —Via Nicholas Gingold, at All About Beer.

    • 28 October 2015
      Federal judge throws out lawsuit which alleged fraud by MillerCoors for stating Blue Moon beer is "artfully crafted." There is "no case supporting the proposition that the price of a product can constitute a representation or statement about the product."
      —Via Alan McLeod, at A Good Beer Blog.

    • 28 October 2015
      It has been twenty-five years since the Discovery Channel first aired The Beer Hunter." A documentary on beer, produced and narrated by British beer writer Michael Jackson, it was "ahead of its time."
      —Via Tom Acitelli, at All About Beer.

    • 26 October 2015
      Scandal! The Archbishop of Cologne, Germany, admits that he prefers Dusseldorf's rival Altbier to Cologne's native Kölsch ales.
      —Via Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

    • 26 October 2015
      The seven denominators of 'cult' California wines. And why their producers shouldn't bemoan the wines described as such.
      —Via Steve Heimoff.

    • 25 October 2015
      Washington, D.C. radio legend, Ed Walker, dies at 83.

    • 25 October 2015
      A theory as to why brewery 'tied house' pubs existed to such a large extent in England, but not so much elsewhere.
      —Via Ron Pattinson, at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins.

    • Bitter American: Extra Pale Ale (01)
    • 25 October 2015
      In 2011, 2% of U.S. 'craft' beer was sold in cans. In 2014: 10%.
      —Via Bart Watson, economist for Brewers Association.

    • 25 October 2015
      What is the number one 'craft' beer style on tap in the U.S.? It's no surprise that it's IPA (India Pale Ale), with a 19.2% share. Pale Lager is second; Pale Ale is third.
      —Via YFGF.

    • 25 October 2015
      By December 2016, the FDA will require all chain-restaurants (with twenty or more locations) to display on their menus caloric and nutritional information for any beers they serve. Breweries will be expected to supply this information. The cost of analysis, etc., could be a major problem for mid-size and small breweries.
      —Via MiBiz.
      In 1992, early 'craft' brewery owner Bert Grant put nutritional information on the label of his Grant's Scottish Ale. At that time, the U.S. government told him to cease and desist.
      —Via YFGF.