So you thought that Irish Car Bomb was a strange concoction? Think again. There is booze out there in the world that is truly mind boggling
Kumiss is a traditional Mongolian beverage made of horse milk. With only around 2% alcohol content you have to drink gallons of it to get a buzz. That, however, seems not to be a problem to its nomadic makers.
Chicha’s history goes back to pre-Columbian times where it was drunk during religious ceremonies. At present the word encompasses a variaty of low alcoholic and even non-alcoholic beverages popular throughout Central American, Amazonian and Andean countries. It is made from anything including maize, yuca, quinoa, pineapple, rice, potatoes and other locally available starches and the fascinating or appalling thing about it is that traditionally the ingredients are chewed by chicha makers and it it the enzymes in their saliva that break down the plant starch. The chicha makes then spit out the pulp into earthenware vats with warm water where it is fermented. Appetizing?
Lizard wine is probably more fun to look at than to take a swig of, but the poor creature inside the bottle, usually a gecko, is supposed to give this Chinese specialty the power to fend off various illnesses.
Ruou Mat Ran
Originated in Vietnam and spread throughout Southeast Asia alcohol infused with cobras and other – preferably venomous – animals (scorpions, insects, reptiles, but I even heard of bear penis in spirit) is highly popular for its alleged medicinal and aphrodisiac powers. Judging by the region’s population – it does the trick!
Just to prove that Westerner are not short on inventiveness – an Illinois, USA couple created this beverage to go with their favorite food. What’s next? Eggs and bacon whiskey?
The fermented stuff is worth exploring just as much as the cultural and natural sites. After all, traveling is about getting to know the local culture and people and not just about going places, and only the staunchest hypocrites may pretend that sharing intoxicating beverages is not one of the strongest bonding phenomena there are in any society. People have been doing this since time immemorial, and – my guess is – will be doing it for a long time. Some, not surprisingly Russians, have taken the whole custom to a level unattainable to most humans. Just watch them: