Monday, February 25, 2008

My milkshake tastes better than yours, damn right.

(It also brings all the boys to the yard.)

(In case you are an international student or professional reading this, my excessive use of "bourgie" and "ghetto" come from a few years spent in Los Angeles--most Americans do not talk like this, and rightly so.)

Because I LOVE picking fights and LOVE it when you all go at it in the comments and I LOVE challenging your bourgie assumptions and affected mannerisms, here goes!

  • I do not really like wine. Wine tasting is kind of ho-hum, but I like to do it for the social setting and because wine tastings are usually in super-pretty tourist destination areas next to really good restaurants.
  • I do not really like sake. Sake-tasting parties make me want to puke, because sake makes me puke and so does the idea of a themed party along that line of "oooh, let's try what the Asians drink. Exotic!"
  • I do not really like scotch or whiskey and going to those tasting parties either, because it's a really expensive way to burn your esophagus, and only the super expensive "this must be what it's like to blow your grocery budget on one drink" is not painful, at least in the physical sense.
  • I hate beer. This is just beyond discussion.
  • I would rather drink a good ol' ice cream milkshake than any alcoholic drink, even whatever "good stuff" comes recommended by your personal sommelier or other guide to bourgieness.

So anyway, I suppose you could chalk it up to the simple fact that I don't like the taste of alcohol, and you'd probably be mostly right. Except that I really like champagne and prosecco! And I like it when mixed drinks are not appallingly disgusting, noxious bubble-gum pink confections, but taste like something delicious with an edge.

But the brute taste of alcohol is never that delicious. I dislike sweet white wines and can't drink red wines alone. As DG says, wine is meant to be paired with food, just as poetry is meant to be read aloud. Food makes wine taste better to me: more palatable, drinkable, enjoyable, but not necessarily vice-versa. I think "this wine needs food" more than I think "this food needs wine," and I am a relatively decent cook who at least attempts gourmet dishes and cohesive menus. But there are tons of people who say that they like the taste of wine in and of itself, and prefer drinking red wine alone. That, to me, is weird, but to each oenophile their own.

This is a difficult admission to make. There is a high demand on me to be all bourgie and pretend that I really like good wine and can distinguish between blackberry and fig notes. I got through law school sober because I was usually designated driver, but living across the street from the law school, I couldn't avoid every alcoholic event. I avoided kegs in the courtyard because I hate beer, but wine and cheese parties? I love cheese! And they always have fruit! And crackers! And I remember well being chastened by bourgier-than-thou Super Foodies about "blending," and how I was supposed to detect notes of fig, chocolate, cherries, or oak or whatever and properly aerate the wine in my mouth before swallowing the tasting sip. So I got socialized into the world of wines and wine-tasting and etc. I resisted for a while, but I got sucked in and eventually thought that I really did like all that. I lied to myself. Milkshakes taste better, even to my socialized, upwardly mobile palate.

I do have a relatively developed palate, even if I was raised on generic Doritos. I am an awesome baker and can make relatively elaborate desserts with very subtle shadings of flavor, depending on the addition of zest, essence, fresh nutmeg, or vanilla bean pods. I am a fairly decent gourmet cook--not too awesome, but I can follow a recipe and know how to marry textures and flavors. This is not a matter of my palate being too blunted to tell the difference between good and bad; just that I don't really prefer wine to other beverages if I had my druthers. I usually know the difference between good and bad wines, I just don't get that excited by the good stuff either. And no, I can't detect which notes are which, and I don't think that you can either. TD's parents do black glass tastings, and people can't tell good from bad or even red from white.

And it's not like I can't drink. But I hate challenges to tolerance. In my brief time with The Roomie, I somehow built the tolerance to knock back up to 5-6 strong vodka drinks/shots (with chasers) in a little over an hour and not die or get sick and I still managed to get myself home by two trains and a 5 block walk not too long after. Although, I do hate being pressured to drink, this is rarer the older I get and the more assertive I am about my preferences and the savvier I am about nursing a drink. Breaking the little 5'2", 120 lb Asian girl at the drinking game is lame, people. I am very, very glad that I am out of law school and do not hang out with people who view drinking as sport and self-medication for their low self-esteem, as if it could salve the wounds of giving up on their dream of playing bass or writing screenplays.

That is, to say, I am glad that I don't hang out with people who feel the need to drink, and push that need onto others. Law school breeds alcoholics for so many reasons, and that's one thing that made me feel really uncomfortable, to the point where I just ended up driving everywhere because finally, safety is a good excuse not to drink. This made me as uncomfortable as accusations of blending and being challenged as to what is my favorite brand of wine and feeling bad about drinking cheap wines. Wow, in retrospect, I really hated the socialization aspect of law school. Who did Prissy Princess think she was, calling me ghetto for accidentally blending?

I do like the social effects of drinking: sharing a bottle of wine among friends is as awesome as breaking bread or having tea and cookies, and I like that convivial aspect. Two of my happiest memories in recent history are The Sociologist and A Well Respected Man coming to visit for a night and talking animatedly over prosecco and pinot noir; and The Journalist and I relaxing over bottles of wine and romantic movies. I am pretty much as spastic and goofy slightly inebriated as I am sober, but my spacticity and goofiness are exacerbated by the alcohol component of these only moderately tasty beverages. When hosting parties, I will often serve alcohol and ask that guests bring extra, mainly because I know everyone wants to drink, even if it is not my natural inclination. Alcohol does make a party, although I think Diet Coke tastes better. Diet Coke is delicious.

So anyway, I am just going to own up to being a bad bourgie and not really into the high-end drinking culture. I ask you, self-proclaimed oenophiles and conoisseurs: am I just missing something? Can you mount a defense of the tastiness of your beverage of choice, and what is it that you really, really like about your favorite alcoholic beverages that does not relate to the social, convivial aspects/effects, but rather is restricted solely to the brute taste of the alcohol itself?

I will say it again: my milkshake tastes better than yours.