samedi 22 décembre 2007

Francia dicembrina

Unas impresiones del este de Francia en el frio de diciembre (-8 grados).

El agua de las fuentes de la Place Stanislas en Nancy, helada, refleja el frio que nos congela a todos.En Strasbourg, capital europea del Noël, los mercados de Navidad proponen vino caliente para no morirse de frio, decoraciones para los arboles y dulces navidenos (otra vez escribo desde un teclado francés y me desesperé de buscar los acentos!).

Afortunadamente existen métodos para sobrevivir en invierno: tomar mucho vino, y comer platillos de temporada.

Ejemplos: mejillones al vino blanco, bakehof (otro guisado de Alsacia con tres carnes marinadas en vino blanco) o choucroute (guisado de Alsacia a base de col y embutidos).
Bon appétit!

vendredi 7 décembre 2007

About Amanita muscaria and Christmas

On these days of pre-Christmas celebrations, a bit of history and legend. Amanita muscaria, or the fly agaric, is very related to Santa Claus. I always saw these mushrooms to decorate my Christmas tree but I didn´t get the link...

First, the fly agaric was always linked to Siberia and northern countries. For instance, it is said that Viking warriors, called "Bezerker", were ingesting these mushrooms before going to war, and that the state in which they got, called the "bezerk-raging", was directly due to the fly agaric.

It is also said that Koyak Siberian tribes (XVII- XVIII centuries) were making tea with Amanita muscaria and that people had to drink the urine of those that had taken the tea in order to recycle the psychoactive substances... The active ingredients of Amanita muscaria are not metabolized by the body, and so they remain active in the urine. In fact, it is safer to drink the urine of one who has consumed the mushroom than to eat the mushroom directly, as many of the toxic compounds are processed and eliminated on the first pass through the body.
Some scholars argue that this is the origin of the phrase “to get pissed,” as this urine-drinking activity preceded alcohol by thousands of years.

The legend also says that some Finnish people, after some ingestion of the fly agaric, had seen reindeers in the sky (with diamonds?) carrying a big fat man dressed with the colours of Amanita muscaria... Is this the origin of Santa Claus?
In fact reindeers are known to eat mushrooms as well and their urine was also drunk for its psychedelic effects.
Now ethnobotanists studying Christmas origins affirm that Amanita muscaria is present on Christmas trees due to its ectomycorrhizal relationship with coniferous trees and because its a symbol of luck.

So, is Christmas such a Christian tradition? I knew it was an ode to capitalism, but it turned out to be as well a form to celebrate tribal people of pre-christian northern Europe.
So my dear, still getting depressed by Christmas consumerism? Or wishing now to celebrate?