By Niki Ganong
2015 by Overcup Press
ISBN 978-0-9834917 2-9
Soft Cover 228 pages $19.99
Drinking in America carries the subtitle “A Traveler’s Handbook to State Liquor Laws.” It does a good job of recounting essential information for all 50 states, summarized in quick reference What you Can Do and What You Can’t Do sections for each. Such comprehensive information might justify buying the book. If you travel a lot, this could be pretty useful.
Valuable as this research could be to someone who’s on the road, Drinking in America provides much more that is entertaining, as well as informative. Where else would you learn about the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island? Still open today, it was established in 1673 and is reputed to have served colonists, British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries.
Would you have known that New Mexico has the longest history of wine production in the U.S.? Wine grapes were planted in the Rio Grande Valley by Franciscans in 1629 for the production of altar wine and by 1800 the area was producing more than one million gallons of wine a year.
For those who’ve not visited North Carolina, the words Outer Banks might bring to mind only hurricanes and striped bass fishing, but after reading Niki Ganong’s book, they’ll also be aware that the area is home to Brew Thru, a chain of drive-through beer stores where thirsty customers can have beer placed in their car trunks by attendants and complete the transaction without their having to leave the driver’s seat. Drive-through liquor sales are also legal in Wyoming and kids can drink alcohol in that beacon of freedom, but only in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.
Suds fans seem to have it good in Minnesota, where they avail themselves of self-serve beer machines at the Twins’ Target Field. Bud and Bud Light are said to go for 38 cents an ounce, with Shock Top and Goose Island at a couple pennies more.
In Alabama, the cities of Montgomery and Mobile are emulating New Orleans’ French Quarter in creating “entertainment districts,” where citizens can wander through parts of downtown with open containers of liquor.
Is this kind of esoteric information necessary preface to traveling in America? Well, no, not really. Nor is it essential to find that the Latin motto of West Virginia is Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers Are Always Free), or that the state of Washington motto is Al-ki (Chinook for “Hope for the Future”). However, the Field Guide to Drinking in America delivers more than just a dry recitation of the can-and-can’t-do options and we found it fun reading. The writing and graphics are lively and invite a vicarious visit to a few states each time the book is picked up, rather than a more plodding cover-to-cover read.
--reviewed by Dan Clarke
Port Brewing Co.
San Marcos, California
Style: American Double IPA
Serving style: Bottles and keg (our sample from draft)
Availability: Year-round in California and national markets
Appearance: “A little darker than what I normally think of as an IPA.”
Aroma: “Not much of a hop aroma at first, but once to you get to the tasting the hop hits you.”
Taste: “You can taste the hops. There’s no way—even after two or three beers—you would not know it’s an IPA.”
Food Affinity: “I love spicy foods and I think IPAs go well with those cuisines. Mongo would pair well with gumbo or jambalaya—things incorporating cayenne pepper or black pepper. It would also go with barbecue or smoked foods.”
Reviewer Mark Kerns loves craft beers, IPAs above all.
N/V Cabernet Sauvignon
Suggested Retail: $ 7
“There might be many suggestions as to why the Barefoot brand has had such huge success. Some of them are found in the book The Barefoot Spirit by founders Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, who applied boundless energy and boundless creativity to building the company. In recent years Barefoot has been operated by Gallo, no slouches in the marketing of wine themselves, who have multiplied the already substantial sales.
“But the quality of the products obviously had something to do with things, too. A sticker on the bottle of Barefoot Cab we’re reviewing this week reads ‘Consistent Quality. Proven Value.’ That sounds to us like a motto all businesses should strive for. That same sticker also indicates that ‘Barefoot’s Cabernet Blends Have Won Gold! (at the) 2012 San Antonio Express News Wine Competition.’ That statement, while no doubt true, may be somewhat misleading in that a wine shopper may assume that a wine identical to this one won that gold medal. That’s unlikely. Any wine entered in a competition taking place in 2012 obviously would have been from grapes harvested before then—in the case of modestly-priced red wines, probably a year or two earlier. This week’s featured wine is non-vintage (NV), which gives the winemaker the latitude to produce a wine entirely from one harvest, or (more likely) from the juice of grapes from two or more vintages. So while we can’t say for sure, we would guess the bottle purchased at an Albertson’s grocery store in mid-April of 2015 was made from grapes harvested in spring of 2014 and/or 2013. Harvested in the spring? Yes, while Barefoot is a California company, it has begun to source grapes not just from outside the state, but outside the U.S. The back label of our bottle of wine indicates the grapes are from Argentina in the Southern Hemisphere. This isn’t necessarily bad, as that country produces some very good quality red wines.
“Our first impression of this Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon was the aromas of red plums and Boysenberries, with some vaguely herbal aspects in the background. These were followed by a rich feeling in the mouth. Tastes akin to raspberries and blackberries predominate, with a slight herbaceousness (which we liked and found added an element of complexity) and just a bit of spice. This wine surprised us. Fairly priced for a generic red table wine, it actually displayed decent Cabernet Sauvignon character and is quite a bargain for that variety.”
Food Affinity: “Calves liver with onions. Chicken thighs braised in red wine with garlic, black oil-cured olives and a little cinnamon.”
by Joel L.A. Peterson
My mother – the wonderful woman who adopted me despite already having four biological children of her own – was a bright, educated, and deeply thoughtful person. So she had been planning for my arrival from the orphanage in many ways. When I arrived from Korea as her new son, I was nearly seven years old, and my mother knew that Koreans did not eat the same breakfast that Americans typically ate.
She reasoned that I was used to eating rice, not cold cereal with milk. But she didn’t want to serve me rice, which she thought could reinforce a sense of not belonging; being treated as a foreigner, given non-typical America food. So she had a plan. She would ease me through the transition from steamed rice.
The very first day, I was seated at the breakfast table surrounded by my new parents, brother, and three sisters. Mother put her plan into action as all the pairs of blue eyes and faces framed by blonde hair looked on.
I didn’t speak any English. I couldn’t understand anything that anyone was saying to me. It was just so much noise. But I was old enough that I had internalized Korean customs and manners. Even though I knew that this was my new family, my Korean socialization urged me to remember that I needed to act like a guest in their house.
In Korea, there are many social rules covering all manner of situations and social settings. Everyone has a specific role. Two of the most important roles were host and guest. Other important roles were adult and child. As a child guest in a strange adult host’s home, Korean custom demanded that I not complain, not refuse any offered food or gift, and that I not leave any food unfinished.
My mother set down a small bowl of steaming hot oatmeal in front of me and placed a small spoon into it and stirred. She sat down and the entire family looked on expectantly. I looked from one set of blue eyes to the next around the table. I looked down at the bowl. There was nothing about the bowl of oatmeal that was remotely like rice. But to my mother’s Midwestern way of thinking, it was similar.
I took a spoonful and put it in my mouth. It was awful. Horrible. The texture, the taste, the stickiness of it were like nothing I had ever eaten. I wanted to spit it out. But I was a guest and the youngest child. I swallowed and almost threw up. I gagged and forced it down my esophagus. I took another spoonful and forced myself to swallow it too. I did this until it was all gone. I’d done my duty as a guest. Everyone around the table was smiling and making their weird English noises at me.
My life in America was off to a distasteful start.
But I had spent most of my life in Korea in near starvation. I lived with my Korean mother until she sent me to Korea Social Services to put me up for adoption when I was six. She had little choice. As a single mother of a mixed race child, she was stigmatized and outcast and could find no other work than in American GI clubs. At times, we were reduced to begging on the streets. She knew she could not support me and that I had little hope for a future in Korean society.
So I had learned never to refuse food. No matter what.
The next day, the same thing happened. And the next. And the next. But the servings of oatmeal grew larger over time, eventually needing a bigger bowl. I somehow managed to choke down every bowl, leaving each clean of any leftovers. I thought this was some sort of American torture ritual that the youngest in a family must endure.
In Korea, there were customs that didn’t allow children certain adult foods or to use adult terms for things until they had reached a certain age. I thought maybe it was similar in America. While everyone else in the family got to eat delicious looking cereal with milk, I thought I must be too young, and was relegated to this God awful, goopy oatmeal stuff. I endured this torture for six months. One day, my mother asked me if I wanted to try some cereal, pointing to a box of raisin bran on the table. By now, I could speak English and I understood her offer fully. I leaped at the chance and grabbed the Raisin Bran box and poured myself a bowl full of it. Dad poured the milk, since I was too small to safely hold the heavy, large pitcher.
The first spoonful of raisin bran was pure heaven! The taste was nutty but sweet, the texture crunchy and the milk cool and quenching. I loved it! I must have eaten Raisin Bran for the next two years. To this day, it’s my favorite cereal.
Years later, I came home for the first time from college. It was Christmas time and I came down for my first home cooked breakfast since going out of state for school. And there at my table place was a big steaming bowl of oatmeal.
“I thought I would make you a treat,” Mom said. “You used to just love oatmeal when you first came from Korea! You would always clean your bowl and we kept having to give you bigger and bigger servings, because you would always eat it up.” She smiled and gave one of her musical laughs. “I finally had to force you to try something different! But it’s good to have you home for the Holidays. So I made this special, just for you.” She beamed.
My mother is a wonderful woman – bright and well educated. And deeply thoughtful and giving.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. I sat down and ate, cleaning the bowl while my mother smiled.
Editor’s note: In his new book, Dreams of My Mothers, author Joel L.A. Peterson brings his unique personal background as a biracial international adoptee and combines it with his penetrating insights into multiple cultures to create an exceptionally enthralling and inspirational story. You can learn more at www.dreamsofmymothers.com.