It was a dark and quiet night and a seven year old me couldn’t sleep because of a stomach pain. Having woken up the entire family members in order to find medicine and being unsuccessful, my father offered me a homemade remedy; it smelled nothing like any other drink, but a nod from the mother & I downed it in a single sip.
For the first time in my life, I had become aware of my inner-body parts; that burning sensation started from the neck as I experienced the liquid go all the way down my intestine. As the body temperature rose, the dizziness took over the stomach pain and the next thing I remember was waking up in the morning feeling like superman.
Out of the many attributes that have played a part in the civilization of human beings, one of them without a doubt is the culture of drinking alcohol which can be found around the world, dating back to the stone age.
Alcohol was used for everything (well, almost everything) from bad breath to fever, bladder infection, nervous breakdown, stomach pain, headache, bites from mad dogs, cold diseases to prevent cancer, heart disease and so on, paving the way for thousands of Physicians to create newer medicine such as Gin, Absinthe and many other spirits. It was also used to keep the water fresh during long voyages, a form of commodities, money and eventually helping shape the modern global trade.
It went on to become so viral that by the middle ages the alcohol was deemed “Water of Immorality”, and it led brewing to become an important occupation for monasteries and religious orders throughout Europe. Advertising itself as “The World's Oldest Brewery”, Weihenstephan Abbey located in Bavaria, Germany mentions in their website that in 1040, Arnold of Soissons succeeded in obtaining the rights to brew and sell, giving birth to the Weihenstephan Monastery Brewery. So it makes sense why even in the Bible it mentions, “Give strong drink to one who is perishing, and wine to the bitter in soul”.
However, the history dates back far beyond Christianity when Romans mixed wine with frankincense or myrrh to numb the sense before surgery, while the Egyptians called it a “necessity for life” and was commonly used for pleasure, medicine, religious ritual, remuneration and funereal purpose. In addition, notable chemical analysis has shown that the Chinese were making wine from rice, honey & fruits called Yao Jiu, which means "medicinal alcohol" that was backed by clay vessels found in northern China dating back to 7,000 – 6,000 B. C.
In the modern days, we mostly drink alcohol for pleasure and we all have that non-drinking friend telling us; do we really need alcohol to have fun? To which the answer is, "No, not really" but do we really need football boots to play Football? No, but it definitely helps.
So the next time you are enjoying your drink, REMEMBER and APPRECIATE that a long time ago your ancestor had a sip and made that universal sound of satisfaction “aah” and so too will your descendants, because not only has the alcohol made way for modern medicine and global trade, it has also made this LIFE more ADVENTUROUS, PLEASURABLE and ENTERTAINING.
- NP Gurung