Monday, August 2, 2010

What We're Drinking This Week

We've got a busy week ahead, with a couple interesting cocktails served up on Tuesday and Thursday.  But first, we have the obligatory Soundtrack of the Week as well as an extended foray into the Book of the Week.  If you just want to see what we're drinking, scroll down to the bottom, I won't be offended.

Soundtrack of the Week:  Arcade Fire "The Suburbs"  When Arcade Fire burst onto the scene in 2005, they were a revelation.  Their music was intricate, sincere, and resonated in a way that other bands could not imitate.  Try and listen to Rebellion without wanting to run through a brick wall, I dare you.  But after their debut album "Funeral", Arcade Fire turned in an album that was good but not great.  Hardly a sophomore slump by any means, "Neon Bible" just had to follow one of the best albums of the last 10 years - not a small feat to achieve.

With much of the weight from past success behind them, Arcade Fire's newest effort offers some classic songs.  The title track The Suburbs is crushing.  The lyric "Sometimes I can't believe it, I'm moving past the feeling" is stunning within the song, and a great line all its own.  The song Modern Man kicks the lyrical can further down the road, when Win sings "So I wait in line, I'm a modern man; and the people behind me, they can't understand; make me feel like; something don't feel right."

It's fitting that Mad Men's newest season coincides with the release of this album.  Both the TV show and this album heavily rely upon the notion that suburban life, modern life, are both incredibly false in their nature.  Arcade Fire has built out a niche with social commentary, and serious reflections of the modern family.  "The Suburbs" seems in many ways to be its own follow-up to "Funeral", almost a prequel to a family's existence and lives. 

"The Suburbs" comes out tomorrow.

Book of the Week: "Bananas: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World" by Dan Koeppel

As you have likely gathered by now, I'm a sucker for books about food (I recommended Apples by Frank Browning a few weeks back).  Bananas is a rather striking book, largely because at least half of the book is a discussion of the various maladies that threaten the banana's existence. 

We eat one variety of banana, the Cavendish.  If you go to a specialty store, you might find a couple other banana varieties, but 99% of the US market is Cavendish bananas.  Compare this to the apple market, and it's a very different beast.  We can buy upwards of a dozen apple varieties at a given store.  Bananas though - Cavendish.

Why is that?  Well, long story short - the Cavendish is one of the few bananas that had a taste-profile that was acceptable to the US market, while also ripe (see what I did there?) for production and seeming immunity to the main disease at the time of its rise in prominence, Panama disease.  The Cavendish replaced the Gros Michael banana in the 1950s, after the Gros Michel (considered a superier banana in taste) succumbed to Panama disease.

Like any monoculture, the banana plant faces serious threats from disease because if the plant is not resistant to a particular ailment, the entire crop will suffer.  The Cavendish is threatened primarily by Panama disease and Black Sagitoka.  Both diseases threaten the banana supply.  Once either malady reaches a banana crop, all of the banana plants in the area are done-for. 

At the moment, scientists are working to find a replacement to the Cavendish, a banana that is resistant to Panama disease and Black Sagitoka.  It's not an easy task though, as bananas are extremely difficult to reproduce.

I think Bananas is an excellent primer on the subject of the fruit, delving a little too briefly at times on the effect it has had on various developing countries.  No doubt entire books could be written on the destructive path United Fruit (now Chiquita) tore through much of South America and the Caribbean. 

So, with that, here's What We're Drinking This Week:

- Tuesday - Canecutter - Rum based, with some Kahlua and Coke, served over ice.

- Thursday - Celeb_U_Bot - Taken from the Svedka vodka cocktail archives - featuring vodka, lime juice, sugar, and a small amount of lemon juice.  Sound good.

See you all tomorrow!
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