Blog: Masters of Social Gastronomy Cooking with Illicit Substances
The crack team (pun intended) of Sarah Lohman and Jonathan Soma are back for yet another deep dive into the world of food culture and science. On Tuesday evening the “Masters of Social Gastronomy” retuned to Williamsburg’s Public Assembly with the theme, “Cooking with Illicit Drugs.” Lohman of the popular blog “Four Pounds Flour” and Soma who represents the “Brooklyn Brainery” teaching center came with a wealth of humorous, insightful and downright mind expanding topics. The LocalBozo.com crew was once again front and center to drink in all we could handle.
Shortly after 7pm the Public Assembly doors opened allowing guest entry into the free event. For a good half hour, eventgoers had the chance to fill up on legal substances before the highly likable team of Lohman and Soma hopped on stage to introduce the evening’s topic. Despite battle a cold and making several jokes at her own expense, Lohman launched into her speaking portion starting with the Victorian era. Having known during this time period that plenty of odd affairs were transpiring, we were boldly surprised at what she had to add. Nitrous Oxide otherwise known as, “Laughing Gas” was rampant during this time as power elite would be seen filling pigs bladders with the gas popular at dentists offices, inhaling it and getting high. As a visual Sarah showed several cartoonish paintings showing depictions of this extremely primitive consumption of the highly addictive gas.
Continuing with these newly realized Victorian era drug trends, we then learned about “Morphine Tea Parties.” Picture this- wealthy, bored housewives sitting at home with each other imbibing illicit substances. Very modern sounding right? Well, we have to thank the ladies of yesteryear for this. Wealthy women of the time would lay about their stately homes and shoot each other up with drugs. This trend was so in vogue that jewelers even “bedazzled” syringes so these ladies could show off their needles. Creepy.
Everyone has some opinion about the much talked about and often maligned drink, Absinthe. It has often been referred to as the “Green Fairy” and is often associated with madness. The “MSG” team spent the lion’s share of Tuesday’s event debunking several of its rumors. First off, the green is quite high in alcohol content, much like gin and as such, it’s not necessarily the magic elixer that many view it as. Murder and accusations were also levied on Absinthe by local governments but actually, the wine industry was feeling challenged by its complex spirits so they jumped on the bandwagon and began spreading disinformation and propaganda. This led to Absinthe’s initial ban in several countries and in the United States in 1912. Yet in 2007, a diligent New Orleans company successfully battled the law, creating “Lucid,” an Absinthe for a whole new generation to sample and judge for themselves. Lohman and Soma brought samples of wormwood, a key and sticky ingredient to the green beverage delivering pleasant notes of licorice.
We at LocalBozo.com love to attend food events where we get to sample a vast number of choice eats from some of the City’s best chefs. But there’s also a certain amount of education necessary to thoroughly understand how we’ve evolved. Fortunately, the Masters of Social Gastronomy provide free sessions just like this one that allow us to learn about the origins of spirits, the ridiculousness of passe laws, and of course, the odd use of pig parts that help us to challenge and enrich the way aspects of daily life our presented to us.
- Jay Rubin