Thursday, December 08, 2005

Basking in that Christmas Glow

How does an entire hemisphere deal with temperatures hovering around zero at one of the years most important festivals, when more practical countries have simply ensured their continent is experiencing summer? Simple!

ALCOHOL

What better way can there be to ensure that one doesn´t notice the tips of ones fingers falling off than to start drinking copious amounts of that heat-you-up-on-the-inside-numb-you-to-the-outside anaesthetic?

Christmas offers two specialties in this department. First and foremost is the everpresent Gl├╝hwein. This wonderful concoction of cheap red wine, oranges, cinnamon and cloves can be purchased with a dash of rum or amaretto or any other liquor of choice for the additional price of ten times the value of said dash. Most Germans will actually deliberately leave the warmth and comfort of home and hearth to stand in subzero temperatures and drink this, simply so that they can then say "My, doesn´t that warm you up, just what the doctor ordered, hey?" without any sense of ridiculousness in that they put themselves into the cold only for this drink in the first place.

The second Christmas drink is the appropriately named Feuerzangenbowle, or in English the Fire Tongue Punch. Primary ingredient is a big bowl of gluhwein, preferably in some kind of pot or cauldron which is kept hot over a flame. Over this pot is suspended a metal holder on which cones of sugar are placed. Yes, you heard me right, CONES of sugar. YOu can buy these in every supermarket and are hard, non-crumbly CONES.

Here comes the good bit. You then cover these totally in rum and SET THEM ON FIRE.

WOOHOO

The sugar melts and dribbles into the gluhwein, along with any extra rum, which you may have poured a little too enthusiastically thereby making the whole mess horrifically sweet and incredibly intoxicating.

Fun for all the family! The adults get completely sloshed and the kids get to watch grandpa´s beard go up in flames. What more Christmas glow could you possible ask for? As an added bonus the hangover the next day surpases the quality of a normal hangover by several orders of magnitude and can only really be cured by getting out into the fresh air, letting the cold whip that headache away. Of course, once you´re out there, you know what would be perfect? Just a little sip of gluhwein to warm you up again. Or perhaps, over there they have a Feuerzangenbowle.....

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