Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'll Drink To That

I bought a bottle of 16 year old Lagavulin single malt scotch this weekend and enjoyed its hearty smoky and peaty flavour, all the while shaking my head and uttering under my breath: "Thanks, Terry."

You see, I blame Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans for this newly acquired favourite drink. Or, more properly, I blame Terry's character, Angus McLintock, who regularly sipped Lavavulin in his novel, for creating in me the desire to try this scotch out.

Prior to Terry, I had Neil Peart to thank for inspiring me to seek out The Macallan after reading about it in one of his travel biographies (Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road).

And years before being inspired by Terry and Neil, I was a Glenfiddich drinker and had been since my first gig as a lightning designer back at Sock'N'Buskin theatre company. I had designed the lights for Edward Albee's Lolita, and on opening night the director presented me with a bottle of it saying: "Lighting designers drink scotch." Up until that point, beer was my drink of choice -- but when I don't feel like a beer, I now turn to scotch.

I'll regularly drink scotch while writing in the late evening -- for a few main reasons. First, because drinking coffee late at night is not a good idea -- it'll simply keep me even more wired than writing makes me and I'll not get a wink of sleep when I finally turn in. Second, because I can sip it slowly and enjoy the taste and experience -- as opposed to the manner in which I very vigorously kill bottle after bottle of beer without evening noticing it; whenever I do that, I end up having too much beer and my writing gets progressively worse.

Perhaps I'm a bit too suggestive -- but I like to think that there's something special in the manner of the authors I am reading that intrigue me enough to check out a new product that inspire me to try a new drink.

Last year, when I was reading Denis Hamill's Fork in the Road I could not get the thought of having a Guinness out of my mind. And when it came to beer drinking, I hadn't tried a dark beer like Guinness in years, never actually liking it, always being more of an ale or lager drinker. However, after reading that novel, I plunged into Guinness on tap the first chance I could get, and paused to enjoy the full flavour of it -- and thanks to Denis Hamill, I now regularly enjoy Guinness as well as other richer, full bodied stouts.

But before I come off sounding like I have a drinking problem, there have also been food motivations and inspirations from books that I've read.

For example, I'll always associate reading Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta mysteries with the desire to enjoy Italian food. Regularly in the first half dozen or so of her novels, she would spend time showing her main character Kay Scarpetta fixing up some fantastic Italian dish, practically making my mouth water. In fact, I'm pretty sure she also put out a short mystery tale/cookbook one Christmas, featuring characters from her Scarpetta mysteries at a dinner party alongside some Scarpetta-inspired recipes.

And I've never been so hungry as the time I was reading Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. So much of the novel was concerned with finding and preparing meals that I remember always feeling famished while reading the novel. Evidence, perhaps, of Steinbeck's masterful skill as a writer. (Of course, I was a student at the time, and part of the fixation on food might have had a bit to do with that as well)


lime said...

oooh grapes of wrath is one of my favorite books and the way the old man fantasized about juices of succulent fruits running down his arms as he slurped into the ripe fruit STILL does me in...ok, i am so hungry now!

Anonymous said...

While I don't drink scotch, or much alcohol of any kind, I've always been intrigued by the cult and culture of the single malt community. My father likes Lagavulin but I'm told it's very peaty. Glad to have inspired you...


Anonymous said...

Funny Mark, I'm the same way. I don't drink Glenfiddich any more and love Lagavulin but it's so expensive. I only buy it about once a year.
Let me suggest another. It's a blended but definitely worth trying. It's not as good as Lagavulin but at ~$35/bottle, you can't go wrong. Te Bheag, prononunced, "Chey Vek". Now go treat yourself