Did you know that before the internet existed, people used to sit down on the couch, turn on the TV, start flipping through channels, and end up passing either the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet or some other wild life documentary and 6 hours later they knew more about dung beetles than they ever imagined was possible and they had to fluff the cushions on their couch because ass grooves were evidence of how literally useless they were that day? I kinda miss that.
Nowadays, I end up searching for something on Wikipedia, and then 3am rolls around and I can tell you more about the Vidalia Sandbar Fight than I ever imagined I would (Hint: Jim Bowie was a total badass).
The unfortunate part about all of this learning, is that when it comes to learning about the history of civilizations, specifically nations, you find yourself lousy with tales where the majority were total dicks to the minority. American history is plagued with it. So is European history, as is Middle Eastern history. Essentially, if it was written down, then there is probably an example of someone being a total jerk to someone else... for no good goddamn reason.
Let me introduce you to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Basically, after the gold rush started to die down in the states, white Americans got scared at the amount of Chinese immigrants that were still showing up in California. In the post Civil War economy, it was hard to find gold, or work, and as is typical of humanity, when the going gets tough, the entitled find someone else to blame it on. In this case, the “Workingmen’s Party of California” felt that the Chinese were ‘takin our jorbs’, so they got the Exclusion Act passed (They thought about building a huge wall, but as it would turn out, well yeah, you know...). This act banned any new immigration of Chinese citizens, and was intended to last 10 years.
It was not overturned until 1943......... ಠ_ಠ
During this period, since white Americans hated the Chinese so much, industrialists made a big push to fill all the former Chinese jobs, with Japanese workers (because white Americans wouldn’t do the work or something. This all sounds so foreign and strange, I don’t know what to make of it). Anyway, this caused a big flood of Japanese immigrants.
Forty some odd years later, Americans decided that Japanese immigrants weren’t any better then all the Chinese ones, and passed the Immigration Act of 1924, officially stopping almost all new immigration from the entire Far East.
Besides the interesting repercussions of this, like isolating Japanese immigrants in the U.S., thus causing distinct generational divisions, and the egregious internment camps established in 1942, one of the other biggest travesties, was the delay of America’s access to saké. That was just plain wrong.
What is saké, you say? Saké is often described as being a “rice wine” but that’s not quite accurate.
With wine, the fruit you’re using is ready to ferment as soon as it falls off the vine. Conversely, the rice used in making saké must have it’s starches converted into ferment-able sugars first. In that regard, saké is more like beer.
But to call saké a ‘rice beer’ would also be inaccurate. The grain in beer must be cooked to convert its starches to usable sugars, at which point, yeast is used to convert those sugars into alcohol. Saké on the other hand, uses several different micro organisms to simultaneously convert the starches to sugars, and then convert those sugars into alcohol. This is what’s called ‘parallel fermentation’, since the conversion to sugars, and then sugar to alcohol, are happening at the same time, by separate organisms, rather than isolated steps.
Like with any liquor, saké comes in a variety of strengths, flavors, and styles but here are the main things you need to know:
- In Japan, the word saké refers to alcoholic beverages in general (whiskey, beer, vodka, whiskey, bourbon, whiskey, ect.), not rice alcohol specifically. In Japan, if you want ‘saké’ as we know it, you would ask forNihonshu which translates to ‘Japanese alcohol’.
- There are two basic types of saké: Futsū-shu (Ordinary saké) and Tokutei meishō-shu (special-designation saké). Think of Futsū-shu as the pilsner of the saké world. Tokutei meishō-shu is more like the craft beers and belgian style brews.
- There are eight varieties of Tokutei meishō-shu, ranging from cloudy, to clear to unfiltered to unpastureized. I’m not going to talk about them. Read a book.
- The label on a bottle of saké gives a rough indication of its taste. For instance, the term Nihonshu-do(日本酒度) indicates the sugar content. When comparing saké to water, saké that is heavier than water (more sugar) is listed as a negative value, and saké that is lighter (drier) than water is given a positive value. So, "+10" means dry and "−10" means sweet.
- In Japan saké is served chilled, at room temperature, or heated, depending on the preference of the drinker, the quality of the saké, and the season. Typically, hot saké is a winter drink, and high-grade saké is not drunk hot, because the flavors and aromas will be lost. This masking of flavor is the reason that low-quality and old saké is often served hot.
Now, saké isn't actually in this weeks episode, but Japanese-Americans are, so we’re just gonna do the best we can with what we have. Here is a new drink invented, and named, especially for this TIP.
NIHONSHU TEIKUSUPITTO (The Saké Spit-Take)
- 4oz Saké
- 4oz Orange soda
First off, buy yourself some cheap, bottom shelf, shit saké. Pour said shit-saké over ice into a collins glass. Top with orange soda. Stir to mix.
Whiskey on the rocks (Drinking Game: every time a character spills a drink, take a drink.)
Nutella Waffles. (What is it with all these fucking delicious waffles?)