The Importance of Cider
Written & illustrated by Sean P. Aaberg
From Vol. 3 No. 1, 2004
You may not know this yet, but cider is a gateway drug. It wont lead you to shooting up heroin or freebasing cocaine… actually, it might, if you got drunk enough and lost your wits. A true cider drinker wont be found dead in an abandoned building, or scamming people with pitiful tales of their car breaking down around the corner and their sister being pregnant and how they need $45 in three minutes or else the bomb in their spinal column will go off and their name is Lawrence Talbot and they’re not prejudiced and they probably wont be having a heart attack or stroke and getting brain damage at 25. If you start drinking cider you might end up rolling down a hill in a barrel, jumping into blackberry bushes naked or thinking you’re seeing some sort of “little people” over in that corner. You should really know that cider is a gateway to becoming RUSTIC.
Rustic: Of, relating to, or typical of country life or country people. Lacking refinement or elegance; coarse. Charmingly simple or unsophisticated. Made of unfinished or roughly finished wood: rustic furniture. Having a rough or textured appearance; rusticated.
Once you get that cider alcohol coursing through your veins, you get a different sort of view of things. Instead of worrying about all of the trappings of modern life, you just want to walk around in muddy boots and look at moss-covered rocks or women’s bottoms, or moss-covered women’s bottoms, or rocks that look like women’s bottoms with moss on them (or men’s bottoms as well, I was just thinking about women’s bottoms). You could pull out Roxy Music’s Country Life album and give it a listen while looking at the women on the cover, it’s all working out. City folks and the like might call it unsophisticated, but of course, you could smash them in the mouth too. When was the last time you wanted to be smiled at by someone who makes heaps of money as they thought, “My, aren’t they charmingly simple and unsophisticated! I can put them in my museum or produce a lovely album of their folk music.” Well, if you understand what I’m talking about, it isn’t going to happen. Not only that, real cider is called Scrumpy, it’s true! Scrumpy! It says it all. Scrapes + Lumpy = Scrumpy.
Cider is a really old drink, it comes from misty old Europe in old Gaul and the Basque country where heaps of apple trees were growing all over the place. Brought over from Egypt by the Romans. The great thing about cider and wild apple trees is that the apples don’t have to taste so good in order to make good cider. To get apples straight off the tree to taste good you have to breed them specifically for the tastier traits and tend to them with great care. With cider apples, you can basically let the trees go crazy and not pay so much attention to them, just harvest the apples and you’re set. Sort of like with pigs, where they eat all sorts of things and muck about, and transform all of that randomness into delicious roast pig and bacon and the like. It is no coincidence that roast pig and cider go well together and are glorious symbols of rustic life. Old-fashioned cider making and drinking went on for a long time, until something happened. In the 13th century the press was invented! It suddenly became so easy to get all of the juice out of them apples that cider became cheaper and easier to make, and soon it was loud and boisterous, kicking down the door and competing with the big guns of beer and wine in the inns of Western Europe. The Normans took cider all over Europe with them on their rampaging in medieval times, eventually becoming a part of farm labourers’ wage allotments. Soon every farm had its own apple orchard, apple press and distinct make of cider and life was beautiful. Even America got in on the act, with many colonial town’s prosperity judged by how much cider was produced. American folklore tells of the legendary Johnny Appleseed who took the apple tree across the country and with it, cider for everyone to drink. The Americans continued to drink more and more and more cider, until prohibition, when everyone suddenly forgot about the golden drink, the socialist apple tree program of Johnny Appleseed or at least that cider was supposed to have alcohol in it. Then the atomic age came and people only wanted to drink Tang and play with plastic bits.
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