News, Weather, Mozart, Sports, Eurovision Love Ænema & Perverted Videogames from Vleeptron

NGO_Vleeptron (aka "Bob from Massachusetts") recently featured LIVE on BBC WORLD SERVICE, heard briefly by Gazillions!!!

My Photo
Name:
Location: Great Boreal Deciduous Hardwood Forest, New England, United States

old dude, all hair, swell new teeth

16 May 2005

I want a beer just like the beer that pickled Dear Old Dad


A wonderful archeological and anthropological theory has arisen in the last ten years that in the Middle East, grain (wheat, barley, oats, those kinds of domesticated wild grasses) was NOT domesticated to make bread.

Our ancestors in places like modern Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey ground the primitive grain and mixed the flour with liquids and made it into thousands of small rectangular dough things which we have just always been assuming are loaves of bread.

What else could they have been? What else could our ancient ancestors have done with thousands of rectangular dough objects?

It was beer. They were dough yeast starter cakes for brewing beer.

And the ones they didn't use for the important thing, the beer, they baked and ate. As a convenient and useful by-product. Pretty good stuff, they soon grew to like it, almost as much as they liked the important thing. But, according to this theory, our ancestors never lost perspective about what the important thing was. It was the beer. They named the other thing bread. It didn't have its own Goddess for a while.

Since this Hymn to Ninkasi, discovered written on a baked clay tablet from around 1850 BC, in what is now Iraq, but was then (I think) Sumer, was translated sometime in the late 20th century (I think), several Western microbreweries and amateur brewers and just a bunch of guys named Larry and Michael who hang at this pub and really love great nasty unusual beer have tried to brew a few thousand gallons or liters of this stuff.

Maybe they don't dress up like the Priest-Brewers of Ninkasi, but they did everything else exactly as Ninkasi commanded them to, and they went down to the natural food store for nasty, thuggish, half-wild and wildly overpriced yuppie grains and flours which were as close as they could get to the stuff the Sumerian Brewery Priests were making into dough beer starter rectangles.

Sumerian grains were much closer to wild grasses than anything we're likely to find today at the Co-op or Emily's Just Good Foods. The Jordanians had only domesticated wheat around 4000 BC (I think -- look, you want an expert on this stuff, Cliquez La Bas ou A La).

And who knows what changes yeast has morphed itself through since 1850 BC? Yeasts are the original Reproducin' Malthus Fooles, they don't need no Saturday Night drug and troilism party down at the Route 212 Motel, they just divide in two halves, go their separate yeast ways, and then a few minutes later do it all over again. That's a lot of mutation and variation and genetic drift in 6,000 years.

(Or you can just use the yeast sauvage, the wild yeast that's always floating around in the air. Sometimes you get lucky and it makes crazy nasty delicious Belgian Lambic beer, the oldest continuously brewed beer on Planet Earth. And sometimes nothing happens, the brewery is out of business that year. Wild things are just like that, you can never depend on them.)

But some of those amateur and itty-bitty Microbieristas y Cervezistas read this text and cranked out Some Stuff that tasted pretty fucking nasty, dark, rich, good and Real Different, and that's as close as the modern human throat is ever going to get to the experience our Sumerian ancestors' throats had as they knocked back a warm jug of Old Sumer as they baked on their flat rooftops and were eaten alive by millions of tiny biting midge flies, and gazed up at the spectacularly clear night skies over Sumer.

While I got you on the line, Vleeptron has completely cleaned up its atmosphere from industrial degredation AND THE GODDAM WRONG KINDS OF SPOTLIGHTS ON EVERY GODDAM NEW OR USED CAR SALES LOT AND THAT GODDAM NEW PRISON TO WAREHOUSE BLACK AND HISPANIC MEN, so now today's Vleeptroidz can turn out the kitchen lights, step outside their yurts, and see all the stars of Dwingeloo 2 -- every bit as clearly as our Vleeptroid Ancestors could look up and see their Universe 123,456 years ago.

Not so here on Earth. The skies are fucked bigtime. Sux for us. Hahahaha and you never even knew seeing our Universe at night with perfect original natural clarity was an Important Human Right. The modern world has stolen something precious and invaluable from you and your children, something all your ancestors enjoyed as their birthright, and you didn't even know you got robbed.

So go here, read all about this, join up, if you got a few extra bucks or Euros or Pounds Sterling or Pesos burning a hole in your pocket, give it these nice folks:


TAKE BACK YOUR SKY NOW

(or just let your damn atmosphere get crappier and more toxic and impossible even for powerful optical telescopes everywhere in the world to view the skies, do what you want. Whatever. After you can't see stars anymore, then breathe a little.)

This cornball song, a staple chestnut of the American (and probably also Canadian) human-generated largely Caucasian noise genre called The Barbershop Quartet, was first sung and became an instant smash in 1911. You could not escape from the 20th Century if you could not sing this song:

I WANT A GIRL
(Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)
Words by William Dillon
Music by Harry Von Tilzer (1911)

I WANT A GIRL
JUST LIKE THE GIRL
THAT MAR-RIED DEAR OLD DAD
SHE WAS A PEARL
AND THE ON-LY GIRL
THAT DAD-DY E-VER HAD.
A GOOD OLD FASH-IONED GIRL
WITH HEART SO TRUE
ONE WHO LOVES NO-BOD-Y ELSE BUT YOU
I WANT A GIRL
JUST LIKE THE GIRL
THAT MAR-RIED DEAR OLD DAD

Within three months, maybe less, some drunk guys, probably at Dartmouth College, fixed it. This is the version my father sang con mucho gusto, and this is the version I much prefer to sing in the shower:

I WANT A BEER
JUST LIKE THE BEER
THAT PICKLED DEAR OLD DAD
IT WAS A BEER
AND THE ONLY BEER
THAT DADDY EVER HAD
A REAL OLD-FASHIONED BEER
WITH LOTS OF FOAM
TOOK SIX MEN TO CARRY DADDY HOME
I WANT A BEER
JUST LIKE THE BEER
THAT PICKLED DEAR OLD DAD

I really wish I'd had a bottle of Old Sumer once; now it is just a legend from the wonderful fairly recent Northern California largely Caucasian heavily lawyer past. Pricey, that's for sure, he wasn't giving it away. Certainly it must have had to have been drunk warm, this was beer from the pre-Frigidaire Epoch.

Now Old Sumer is again just a Taste Memory cherished by a few thousand yuppies.

You might want to abandoned your current faith and convert to a belief in the Goddess Ninkasi and start praying this California microbrewer guy will get inspired again and crank out another batch. Until Ninkasi hears your prayers, no more Old Sumer.

But the hell with him. Here. Make it yourself. Here's the recipe. Vleeptron apologizes for the parts we haven't been able to translate yet, these things: (....) Just make your best guesses. Throw in some more dates. Call me when it's beer. What's a wort? What's bappir? Do they sell bappir down at Emily's Just Good Foods? I can't wait to see Emily's price tag for a little bag of bappir. At those prices, it better really be bappir.

The Hymn to Ninkasi -- Making Beer

(The Hymn to Ninkasi, inscribed on a nineteenth-century B.C. tablet, contains a recipe for Sumerian beer. Translation by Miguel Civil.)

Borne of the flowing water (...)
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,
Borne of the flowing water (...)
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,

Having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you,
Ninkasi, having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you

Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake,
Ninkasi, Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.

You are the one who handles the dough,
[and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,
Ninkasi, You are the one who handles
the dough, [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date]-honey.

You are the one who bakes the bappir
in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,
Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes
the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,

You are the one who waters the malt
set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,
Ninkasi, you are the one who waters the malt
set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates.

You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar
The waves rise, the waves fall.
Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks
the malt in a jar
The waves rise, the waves fall.

You are the one who spreads the cooked
mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes.
Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads
the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes.

You are the one who holds with both hands
the great sweet wort,
Brewing [it] with honey and wine
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)
Ninkasi, (...)
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)

The filtering vat, which makes
a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on [top of]
a large collector vat.
Ninkasi, the filtering vat,
which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on [top of]
a large collector vat.

When you pour out the filtered beer
of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
Tigris and Euphrates.
Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the
filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
Tigris and Euphrates.

(okay okay well Vleeptron has not received) Gracious permission from: "Copyright J.A. Black, G. Cunningham, E. Robson, and G. Zlyomi 1998, 1999, 2000. The authors have asserted their moral rights." Scholarly Versions at their Home Page The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University (but somebody has)

3 Comments:

Blogger pat's pub said...

Well I dunno about Old Sumer but a local Microbrewery here is selling Beer based on an old recipe from ancient Egypt. The ingredients are much the same. The Beer itself tastes quite different than the usual stuff...
http://www.uelibier.ch/frameset.cfm?settings=A&start=ok
(pls go to the top right)
And before you ask: No, you can't import this one or Absinth into the US without a license....so you have to stick with the Old Vleeptron Draught....but I think I'm going down the Brewery tomorrow and make up Drinking Songs from old traditionals while I'm there

20:58  
Blogger Mamagiggle said...

I'm thinking about brewing my own. Do you think anybody would notice if I added a secret ingredient?
And so I have a name picked out and everything, and a label designed, but I can't show you until G fixes the ding dang mamagigglerobototron! All we need is lubrication, for the heat sink that is. Please forgive me, I'm blogging drunk, that is unusual for me. Sigh.

22:13  
Blogger Bob Merkin said...

You are not drunk. You are experiencing the mystic spiritual communion with Bacchus.

Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while experencing the mystic spiritual communion with Bacchus.

That secret ingredient seems to make everything else kick butt, my wonderful t-shirt, the softest and most comfy I own, my shampoo, soap, skin goop. So it will almost certainly make for ass-kick beer. Pump it up, pump it out, e-mail me with directions to the Tasting.

You can find imported bottles of Flag Porter. A British Navy ship sank around 1830. About ten years ago SCUBA divers found still-sealed bottles of porter. Biochemists opened it under sterile conditions and claim to have re-started the stuff, and then have been brewing more using an authentic period recipe for Porter. So Flag Porter may really be the beer that pickled dear old great-great-great-great-grand-dad. Who cares, it tastes great.

01:28  

Post a Comment

<< Home