Monday, January 16, 2012

the last of the mulberry wine


I'm having these crippling episodes of self-doubt and anxiety again. I look like shit, I can't sleep, drinking heavily again . . . and the real business hasn't even started yet! It's been a few years since I've graduated, and lately, it's becoming quite clear that if I'm going to make something of myself, as they say, I need to go back to school. So it's time to tighten up that sphincter and get to work.

I'm reminded of the last of the mulberry wine we brought back from the old country. My paternal ancestry traces back to the coastal town of Ningbo, about 220 km or so south of Shanghai. It's an ancient town, with a history going back to 4800 B.C., and was an important trading port through the dynasties. My grandfather left the town as a young boy, moving to Shanghai to work - he apparently never lost his accent. We still have (distant) relatives living there, and who run a farm. High up on my list is to go visit and work the fields and chickens they still raise. I hear their homemade rice hooch is a winner as well.

I've written so much about this, but mulberry wine is a treasure handed down to us by our ancestors, and it's a tradition we need to protect. Mulberry is native to the area, and locals soak the ripe berries in baijiu, the fiery rice spirit possessing upwards of 40% abv. If the mulberries are of good quality, the liquid turns purple, becoming sweeter and purer in flavour and texture. The alcohol absorbs into the berries, preserving them and giving the texture of the fruit an amazing crispiness. And done right, all it takes is 3 berries to knock you the fuck out. We Ningbo country bumpkins appreciate people who can hold their liquor. My last visit back home, I experienced first-hand what it means for our people to drink hard. Those motherfuckers don't play around.

Locals actually use this for medicinal purposes. Particularly effective for bad bouts of diarrhea, I've been told. Country medicine ftw!!


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