Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Chicha For Love
2006 has been an incredibly busy year. I've learned and accomplished alot. Met a lot of new people. Found a lot of beauty in the world that for me was previously undiscovered. Ahhhh... enlightenment... Unfortunately all that learning and accomplishing, socializing and enlightening kept me away from the keyboard. I've been yearning (yes, actually yearning) to get back in here. To introduce new words to this wonderful web of blips and bytes and digital represenations of humanity. Last Tuesday night, someone that I met since my last entry (that leaves it wide open, huh?) brought me a beautiful gift.
In May I attended a small festival in the mountains here. It was organized by a friend of mine who actually included in the information for this festival that for the potluck on the second day it would be nice if people could bring some gluten-free options as there were people with particular dietary restrictions. This opened her to a slew of emailed question which she handled with grace. Unfortunately we hadn't discussed it prior to her doing this, so sitting at this potluck with a lovely vegetarian man who had prepared four or five different gluten-free dishes so that we could eat together, I had to explain to him that I didn't feel comfortable actually eating his food. Had we been in the city I would gladly have given it a try, but out in the woods for another 2 days? If there had been any cross contamination in his kitchen I would not be able to enjoy the rest of the festival.
Eric was very understanding. He packed up some leftovers for me to bring home and try. Which I did. He is meticulous about his eating habits as a vegetarian and that translated over to his incredibly scientific approach to cooking gluten-free. I ate the left-overs and experienced no gastral distress, no hang-over, no symptoms. I was pretty sure we could be friends, but the people that you meet at festivals often fade quietly into your memories never to be heard from again. A year later you'll be asking, "Who was that guy at the festival last year?"
Fortunately my friend Meg was at the festival and had taken a particular liking to Eric. He was quite fond of her as well. They began wooing each other in the woods and quickly became a solid item. At that time I was having weekly dinner parties at my house. They were "kind of" potluck. We would provide most of the food and recommend that if you wanted to bring something to bring fruit, vegetables, salad fixings, or a beverage for yourself. Eric began coming to dinner with Meg and we quickly found out that accomodating a vegetarian when you aren't used to it is very similar to accomodating a gluten-free diet: frought with misconceptions and near misses.
Getting to know Eric you quickly find that he has a singular passionate obsession. Beer. Not the kind of "git me a six pack while yer up, baby" kind of beer obsession. An amazingly educated and particular obsession with beer and the brewing of it. Empathy poured forth from Eric at my lack of tolerance for his beloved beverage. Nearly immediate upon our meeting he began to speak to me of chicha. A South American beer-like beverage brewed from corn.
Over the last few months since our meeting he slowly made preparations for his first attempt at chicha. Determined to do this right, he bought Navajo blue corn that he actually won on an Ebay bid to hold the cost down from direct ordering. The corn has to sprout in order to make the chicha. I guess not all corn will sprout so you have to have particular corn. I saw it at one point during the sprouting process and it smelled incredibly sweet. The blue color of the corn of course added a novelty to the whole process.
So here we are three months later. Eric and Meg are still dating. They show up last Tuesday night with a six pack of Chicha for Love. Some of my friends call me Love. It's kind of a nickname. Meg had designed the labels while Eric had designed the beverage. Gluten-free home brew made with love just for me. I'm still a little astonished at the beautiful friends I have.
When they said they were bringing the chicha I had some misconception that they were going to show up with a jar of strange liquid resembling stereotypical visions of moonshine. These were beautiful in their brown bottles with the personalized labels. Eric said it was dry for a beer, but as a wine drinker it was quite palatable. The carbonation had for some reason dissipated so at the end of the evening Eric took the remaining bottles home to recarbonate them. There is a saying that presentation is everything, and if it were for presentation alone I could have cried at what these two did. Luckily it was tasty as well. I can't imagine how tasty it will be chilled and carbonated. I can't wait.