Monday, September 14, 2009
Absinthism and Reefer Madness
While sitting on the bus in Ottawa over the summer I overheard some high school students talking about absinthe as if it were a kind of hallucinogenic and I was given cause to smile at the formidable reputation of the green fairy, that Belle Dame sans Merci.
Few seem to know its history as an early precursor to marijuana's reputation for reefer madness. The truth of the matter is that mass hysteria is not the privileged child of the modern age. In the 19th century deaths were blamed on it, civil disorder, and especially the seemingly insane behaviour of eccentric artists. It was only relatively recently that import bans and other sanctions began to be relaxed in countries around the world with a growing realization that absinthe in the end is just another alcoholic beverage, liable only to get you drunk.
In fact, if taken in moderation (diluted as it was often intended) a bottle of absinthe can be comfortably enjoyed for a year or more, which is a considerable benefit over other "hard" liquors.
In Canada the most common type available is Hill's Absinth, but in my experience La Fee's Parisian absinthe makes for a generally milder and more enjoyable drink.
Their websites can be found at:
Also, for information on its relatively innocent side effects: