Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How To Induce Erratic Dreams

I would have thought absinthe was the ideal dream-inducing beverage; the green fairy leading us by the hand to never-never land. But no, my experience last night proves otherwise. The drink is kaoliang spirits, distilled from sorghum. The one I bought comes from Taiwan and comes in a brown crock, and is named Yushan after the Jade Mountain, the highest peak on the island. Is that poetic enough? It has a bouquet that reminded me of melons and jasmine. It's definitely floral, and has a serious kick. Why people don't use it in cocktails, I can't say. It would make a great Margarita.

One is supposed to drink it in the tiny ceramic cups which come with the bottle, but I chose a slightly larger shot-sized clay cup of my own. So here's what you do:

Bring the kaoliang to bed with you. Be sure not to have had much sleep the night before. Stay out a little later than you should, and perhaps this is key, eat rather more than what you would ordinarily, especially meat. I had lamb. And a spinach salad.

Then put something completely bizarre and frightening on TV. This will set the tone for your dreams. I saw watching Barbara Walters interview 100 year old people, along with scientists who claim to have discovered miracle longevity drugs. Who wants to live 100 years, I ask? Just be careful not to watch a horror flick, or I will not be held responsible for the consequences. Now while all this is going on, be sure to spend some time worrying about something else too. I was thinking about teaching my Tudor/Stuart England class the next day. This should show up in your dream.

Now twist yourself in a fairly uncomfortable position, and be sure that the person sleeping next to you pulls the blankets off you in regular five minute intervals. If you ever really fall into a sound sleep, you'll never remember the dream. Cats on your head will work too.

This is the dream I had: it was a conference, attended by all the oldest British historians, Joan Thirsk was there, a few people I studied with in grad school like David Underdown, and then a bevy of people whom are certainly dead like E.P. Thompson, Tawney, Conrad Russell. Some hobbled on canes, others in wheel chairs. All were gaunt, grey and drawn out with protruding bones.

The conference was about to begin, and they were all beckoned to descend a broad staircase covered in red carpet. Half of them were making their way down, when one thin Lawrence Stone perhaps began to put an uncertain step forward. Like Dick van Dyck as the old banker in Mary Poppins. And of course he falls, and tumbles headlong into the other 100 year old historians, and they all literally fall to pieces. There are arms scattered this way and that, an errant head, people stuck in each others' rib cages, bits of tattered gray hair flying through the air, utter mayhem. And classic old man British expletives. Sod You! Bloody hell!

I woke up laughing so hard that it hurt. I was literally hysterical. At about 1:30 in the morning.

I swear it was all the kaoliang. I dare someone else to try this.


the pantry cook said...

Mr Albala, where did you get the kaoliang spirits? I'm doing a piece on sorghum. Wouldn't mind the wild dreams either. Thank you.

Ken Albala said...

Hi Prairie Web, Any decent Chinese or even SE Asian grocery store should carry it. The Superking here in Stockton California has many brands ranging from about 10 dollars to about 40. I have to admit on a whim I bought the most expensive, because it has a cool stoneware bottle and little cups came with it. Are you out in the prairie? It may be hard to find without an Asian community, and without grocery stores allowed to sell alcohol.

Where is your piece on sorghum appearing? I'd be glad to lead you to more sources. Contact me off blog:

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