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A Small Repeat…

So this post may not seem like much or anything new, but that’s what a cultural log is. We are talking to our teacher about what we have learned in class and threw our own papers. If some of this sounds familiar it is, and your not going crazy….

Cultural Log 2:

Beer and Tea, Ancient Beverages That Changed the World

In my first cultural log I asked myself some very basic but important questions. Some of these questions I have just started to answer for myself, and others like; “where would we be without the impacts that our drinks have had on us as a global people?” I am still just beginning to realize the scope of these questions and how to go about best answering them. As I expand my knowledge of the beverages we drink with what we eat, and why we drink what we do, I have come across some very interesting facts and learned more about, in my opinion, the two most important beverages we as a society have ever discovered- beer and tea. While I know that wine, spirits, and coffee are just as important,  I picked these two beverages to write my first two papers on because they are the two that I feel have impacted us more than the others. With recommendations I started to read “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” to augment my own research and there have been a lot of really interesting ideas that I had not thought about before.  I am skipping around in the book and reading the chapters as I do the research papers, so I might be reading the book out of order but not only has it helped me get a better understanding of these two beverages it has given me a better appreciation and respect for two of my favorite drinks.

To challenge my assumptions about what we drink, I decided to focus my research papers on the different beverages from the cultures we have and will be talking about in class. Tea in China was an obvious first choice, and I was able to learn a great deal about why tea is so important to the Chinese. For a very long part of Chinese history tea was intrinsic to their everyday lives. From saving the first person to drink it from poison; to being enjoyed at almost every important ceremony, like weddings and events in their daily lives like family meals. That is the beauty of the beverages we drink, tea started out as a medicine and turned itself into the second most popular beverage in the world next to water. It is rather funny to think about how tea, which is consumed so much today, may have gotten its start as a lot of items we eat and drink today do, as a medicine to help save lives. What would have happened if that poisoned man had died before drinking the tea, or if the tea hadn’t saved his life? Would we still have tea as we know it today or would it have been considered a poison and been stamped out of existence for killing one of China’s early emperors?  As a tea drinker myself I for one am glad that it did save his life and that tea is a part of the world today, because whenever I feel a “frog in my throat” I reach for the tea.

When it came time for the second research paper I chose to find out more information about beer and how it had affected the lives of the people in Vietnam. This is where I was once again surprised and wrong, because I had thought that beer was being drank all over the world. As it turns out our histories oldest and arguably most important drink didn’t make its way to Vietnam until the mid 1800’s when the French introduced beer to them. “A history of the World in 6 Glasses” starts out talking about beer and how important it was in helping change us from a hunter gather people to an agriculture based society. It is even argued in the book that beer may have come before bread, as “The two are different sides of the same coin. Bread was solid beer, and beer was liquid bread.” The fact that the Vietnamese didn’t have beer or what history classifies as beer until the French came along was shocking to me. Beer I have found out can be made from almost any type of cereal grain, so why wasn’t it present before the arrival of the French in Vietnam? I have as of yet not found any information that would help me to answer this new question.

From what I have learned and researched the question I asked before; “Where would we be without the impacts that our drinks have had on us as a global people?” is a very important question that will really help shape the rest of my culinary career.  I have always been a firm believer of what has happened in the past helps to shape our future, and with more research I can find an answer to this question. I know that without the help of beer we as a people would not have changed from a hunter gatherer society to a farming one, and without this change in our culture brought about by beer we would not have the same civilization as we know it today. Tea may  not have helped shape and form the future of human civilization as much as beer, but it is still an important beverage that is consumed all over the world. Every time tea has reached a new culture it has changed them in ways that can both be seen and felt, because even though tea started out in China, it was Japan who gave us the tea ceremony, and it was here in America that the cost of tea started a war, that would help shape our own history and culture into the superpower that it is today. These are only two of the beverages and already I can see the connections to the bigger picture, and when I add wine, which helped spark great philosophical thoughts, spirits, and coffee to this picture I think the last few questions will click into place and I will be able to answer at least in part why our beverages have shaped our world the way they have.

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One Comment on “A Small Repeat…”

  1. Tori February 6, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I know how you felt about this paper, and I understand, but it really is very good!

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