October 11, 2006

Honorable fermention.

As written by the estimable Pete Wells and Susan Choi and performed by them, along with the lovely and talented Steven Stern at our nuptials:

Kat and Douglas have asked us to help them celebrate their union with
the ritual of cheese and rye whiskey. We thought we could explain the
significance of these two items with a brief history of the human

10,000 years ago, in the Fertile Crescent around the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers, the Mesopotamians discovered beer. This exciting
new way to drink was found because the Mesopotamians had formed the
world's first agrarian society. Instead of scrounging around for
berries and slow-moving animals for dinner, these ancient people
tended livestock and grew their own grain.

It's likely that some of their stored grain got wet and began to
ferment on its own. Some hardy soul drank the frothy brew: beer.
And so it happened that the invention of alcoholic beverages was one
of the first benefits of leaving behind a nomadic life of aimless
wandering to settle down in one place.

It wasn't until much later - about 1,000 years ago - that we made the
next huge leap forward in bibulous culture, when the Arabs invented
distillation. Now fermented grain (like rye) could be boiled and
recondensed, making a new substance that was stronger, more pure, and
capable of enduring for years - and sometimes even of improving with

Fermentation is also one of the secrets of cheese making, a way to
keep milk from spoiling by turning it into something stronger, richer,
and capable of improving with age.

Taking simple ingredients like grain of rye or warm cow's milk and
transforming them into something completely new was, in a sense, the
beginning of cuisine. Humans were no longer creatures who ate to stay
alive. Now we ate for pleasure.

And this meant that we no longer tore at joints of meat in jealous
solitude. It was the beginning of enjoying our food together, sitting
down to celebrate the enormous fortune of having something delicious
to share with another person.

Kat and Douglas, as the ancient Mesopotamians once shared fermented
grain from a common cup at their highest celebrations, we ask you to
drink this rye whiskey and eat this aged gouda in honor of your
momentous decision to settle down and tend your livestock and your
crops together.

Posted by Kat at October 11, 2006 09:37 AM