Flavour Revolution – Cantaloupe

Food Foundation

Recently, I wrote an article about foods, such as the Macadamia nut, that were named after people. Today, we look at foods that have derived their name from a town or city. For example, the cantaloupe gets its name from the town of Cantalupo, in Italy. Let’s take a little journey across the globe and see where we end up for more eats!

Buffalo Wings – Buffalo, United States

I remember a time when the Sip Advisor didn’t like Buffalo wings. Today, though, I’m very thankful to the fine folks of upstate New York for creating these spicy pub favourites. The Buffalo wing dates back to 1964, when it was created by Teressa Bellissimo, owner of the Anchor Bar in the city of Buffalo. No blue cheese for me, though, that stuff is gross!

Buffalo Wings

Black Forest Cake/Ham – Black Forest, Germany

If you travel through Germany’s Black Forest region, you can not only have some dinner, but also your dessert, as well. The smoked ham from the area is okay, but the Sip Advisor fully endorses getting filthy with a slice of their tasty cake. And for the most part, I’m not even a big cake fan. Black Forest cake is the only place I’d rather see a Maraschino cherry than as a cocktail garnish.

Yorkshire Pudding – York, United Kingdom

The first ever recipe for Yorkshire pudding appeared all the way back in 1737. You’d have to imagine the quality of the ingredients in these early side dishes was pretty poor, but somehow the meal caught on and is still enjoyed to this day. While reading about the food, it was noted that it could also be a dessert, which had me thinking that I really don’t want beef and gravy as a follow-up course.

Cheese – Various

There are just too many cheeses named after places to single any out with their own section. Some cheeses that belong to this group include Gouda and Edam (The Netherlands), Cheddar and Stilton (United Kingdom), Colby and Monterey Jack (United States), Gruyere and Emmental (Switzerland), Asiago and Parmesan (Italy), Brie and Camembert (France), and many others.

cheese wrath

Hamburger – Hamburg, Germany

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Maybe vegetarians, but even they have devised ways to consume a nice patty. We have the beautiful port city of Hamburg (where the Sip Advisor has a fair bit of family) to thank for all that beefy (or veggie) goodness. Minced meat steaks were popular in Hamburg and spread to other parts of the world, thanks to Hamburg being a common starting point for voyages.

Dijon Mustard – Dijon, France

I am a fan of mustard, but I understand where some (like Mrs. Sip) might not enjoy its strong flavour. While there are still factories outputting Dijon mustard in the town of its origin, apparently most of the country’s mustard is actually produced using Canadian mustard seed. Dijon mustard came about when folks subbed verjuice in for vinegar. Today, white wine is used, instead.

Nanaimo Bar – Nanaimo, Canada

I always like throwing some Canadian content into my pieces, if possible. A short ferry trip from the Sip Advisor’s home (plus a little drive) will land you in Nanaimo, B.C., where this delicious chocolate, icing, and brownie combo hails from. A young Mrs. Sip once ate too many Nanaimo bars at one event and ended up getting sick, thus ending her days of consuming the dessert.

Flavour Revolution: Melon Mule

Melon Mule Cocktail

Of all the melons out there, I’ve never been a massive fan of cantaloupe. Despite my opinion, cantaloupe has sometimes been known as the ‘Fruit of Kings.’ We also have to remember how well it pairs with prosciutto, the meat of legends!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was tasty and refreshing, with the specialty Grey Goose cup keeping things chilled throughout the drinking experience. While cantaloupe is not among my favourite fruits, the Le Melon Vodka is very nice and smooth. I fully recommend it to all you little sippers out there!

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April 18 – High Five

Playing Peeves

Earlier this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs got into trouble for not doing their typical salute to the crowd, following a win. They were accused of snubbing the audience that had recently gone so far as to throw jerseys on the ice, when disgusted with the team’s play. Really, it’s their fault for being Maple Leafs fans in the first place, but I digress. While I don’t have any issue with the salute, one way or the other, here are some other player traditions that should be outlawed:

#5: Staged Fights (NHL)

While this pet peeve bothers me less than others that did not make this list, I figured I’d be fair and try to include as many different sports as I could. I’m not the biggest advocate of fighting in hockey, but I do like the odd tilt, usually between two light/middleweights who are chucking knuckles for a reason. Staged fights between two super heavyweights, only fighting because that’s all they can provide to the game, is a waste of roster spots. With the demise of the hockey enforcer, this happens rarely in today’s NHL. You still see the occasional bout off the opening draw, but it’s usually based off of something that happened in the team’s last contest.

hockey fights

#4: Slapping Helmets (NFL)

Given all the concussion concerns and lawsuits being launched by former players, it blows my mind when I see entire football squads viciously slapping each other on the helmet, in order to CELEBRATE a play. Talk about friendly fire! It almost makes you wish they went back to the days of smacking each other on the ass, as all that might do, is produce a bruise. I think every football player loses credibility in the whole concussion argument, given they’re likely seeing stars after successful plays, with injuries caused by their own teammates. Hmmm, perhaps the NFL should hire me onto their legal team!

#3: High-Fives After Each Free Throw Attempt (NBA)

Okay, so the fouled basketball player steps up to the free throw line, which basically means a take-your-time, unobstructed shot from a mere 15 meters away from the hoop and if he makes the shot, everyone on his team must give him a high-five… hell, they even high-five for a missed shot! There is some debate whether the exchange of pleasantries after each shot helps keep a player loose, or disrupts their technique or needed alterations for the follow-up shot. I think the whole process is ridiculous and I think some players do as well; given there have been instances of hoop stars mocking it.

free throw high fives

#2: Elaborate High-Five Routines (MLB)

What do you do when you’re sport is slower than watching paint dry and you have to play 162 games each season? Develop an elaborate high-five routine, of course! I don’t understand why sports highlight shows are so enamored with this trend and feature the choreographed hand-slapping and fist-bumping performance in their replay packages. Sometimes the act goes on for minutes at a time and yes, I guess that does make it more exciting than the game itself. You would never see this ridiculousness in faster-paced sports, because if a hockey player, for example, tried it, they would be body checked through the boards before they could finish!

#1: Complaints About Running Up the Score

I’ve largely only seen accusations of this in football circles, but the other major leagues will take measures to quell landslide victories. In hockey, you might see the winning team rest its scoring lines, in favour of checking players, while in baseball, bunting and stealing bases may be discouraged. Basketball games are usually too close to call and in football, teams may run shorter plays and not go for big scores. The problem with this is if I paid my hard earned money to go to a contest and my team was obliterating the opposition, why would I want that experience to stop? All fans want to see the stars of the sport do what they are paid millions to do: perform at the highest level, not take a game off.

Super Saturday Shot Day: High Five

High Five Shot

  • 0.3 Grand Marnier
  • 0.3 oz Rum
  • 0.3 oz Passion Fruit Liqueur
  • 0.3 oz Orange Juice
  • 0.3 oz Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

I can’t believe how many of these items are based on high-fiving. Narrowly missing the list was female tennis players screaming and grunting their way through matches… although, it is kind of hot! Next up, the Sip Advisor should take a look at the greatest pet peeves I have towards sports fans. This would include such gems as dorks leaving a game before it’s over and the completely unnecessary wave.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This is actually a cocktail recipe, but was easy to convert to a shooter, since all the ingredients were in equal portions already. It’s an incredibly fruity shot, so you know the flavours are going to be nice. The booze quotient could be upped a little so you know you’re drinking a shooter, but the taste is quite enjoyable as it is.

Israel – Cabernet Cobbler

People & Products

It’s kind of crazy how many people and products most of us had no clue originate from Israel. From starlets and rockers to computer programs and board games, Israeli influences are more common that you would think. Let’s take a look at some of those that are changing the world from the Holy Land:

Natalie Portman

The beautiful actress who has stolen my heart time and time again was actually born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag and moved to the U.S. in 1984, at the age of three. After wowing audiences as a 13-year-old in the 1994 Film, The Professional, Portman has gone on to star in Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and Thor.

Natalie Portman Straw

Max Brenner Chocolates

The “chocolate by the bald man” has its headquarters based in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was actually founded by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner (the chocolatier of the duo). My favourite cocktail of all-time (Satisfaction Guaranteed) came from the Max Brenner restaurant and store at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Cherry Tomatoes

No salad is truly complete without the addition of cherry tomatoes. These versatile little veggies were the product of a 12-year breeding program, overseen by labs in Israel. Highlights of the cherry tomato include an increased shelf life and optimal ripening cycle. Who would have thought it could take so long to make a baby tomato!

Gene Simmons

The KISS frontman and tongue wagging demon was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel, in 1949. Along with his mother, Simmons came to the U.S. at the age of eight, speaking no English. He’s certainly come a long way, as the legendary rocker had his own reality show and even claims to have had sex with nearly 5,000 women.

Gene Simmons Doctor

SodaStream

Given my position as a top notch liquor slinger, I’ve often thought that one of these machines could come in handy, especially given I like fizz in nearly every drink I choose to make. SodaStream’s headquarters are located in Lod, Israel, which must make for some interesting flavour proposals, such as hummus and falafel!

USB Flash Drives

Where would many of us be without these pocket-sized tools? The flash drive virtually killed the floppy disk, which could only hold a fraction of the amount of information most USB’s are able to contain. The drives were developed by Israeli company M-Systems, who joined with tech giant IBM to release the product.

Haim Saban

One of the craziest phenomena of my childhood was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was the work of Israeli Haim Saban (or at least his production company). The series is still alive and kicking to this day, having gone through countless iterations. Saban is worth an estimated $3 billion, according to Forbes.

Power Rangers Killers

ICQ

Standing for “I Seek You,” ICQ was developed by Mirabilis, an Israeli company since absorbed by America Online (AOL) for $407 million. It was the first one-on-one online conversation program that allowed users their own account. While I didn’t use the system much, ICQ was once the hottest instant messaging service available.

Hillel Slovak

An original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slovak (born in Haifa, Israel) was there for the bands earliest successes. Sadly, Slovak died from a heroin overdose, in 1988, at the young age of 26. An inspiration for the group, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, with fellow members of the Chili Peppers.

Rummikub

This tile-based game was invented in Israel by Ephraim Hertzano and went on to be the best-selling game in the U.S. in 1977, as well as win Game of the Year awards in Germany (1980) and the Netherlands (1983). I’ve never actually played Rummikub before, but assume I’d be good, simply because the game has the word rum in it!

Israel: Cabernet Cobbler

Cabernet Cobbler Wine Cocktail

  • 4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

For whatever reason, Israel seems shrouded in mystery, but the Sip Advisor likes a good mystery. We also have Israelites to thank for Windows XP, the Amazon Kindle, and modern computer printing, among many other things. Heck, they even bred the golden hamster, which has my little kitty Furious B salivating!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While I enjoyed this drink, it could basically be made by combining Cabernet Sauvignon Wine and Lemon-Lime Soda. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but one I felt I needed to do with the wine I selected for these articles.

Hungary – Breakfast at the Bar

Scourge of God

While Attila the Hun’s empire stretched across much of what is now Europe, he is greatly associated with the people of Hungary, thanks to the Hungarian Royal Court laying claim to him as their own ancestor. Let’s take a look at this brutal legend and sort the fact from the fiction:

Attila wasn’t a big dude (perhaps for his time he was), despite how he’s depicted in modern media as a hulking brute. His tale of the tape stated that Attila was only 5’6” and 145 lbs. When Rugila (king of the Huns) died, he left the Hunnic Empire to his nephews, Attila and Breda. Eventually, Attila tired of sharing the kingdom with his brother and had him killed. Attila ruled from 434 AD to 453 AD and was a terror to both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.

Attila Inspired

Nobody knows exactly what Attila the Hun looked like, although he’s often depicted in his leather armor and with rough facial features and disheveled hair. Scholars debate over whether Attila would have had European features (like a Viking) or Asian characteristics (like a Mongolian). Although viewed and depicted as a cruel and ruthless leader, Attila was said to also possess great diplomatic skills.

Attila picked up a number of not-so-kind nicknames and credits during his lifetime and centuries later, as historians examined his reign of terror. He was known as the ‘Scourge of God,’ but that’s a title he actually gave himself. The History Channels ‘Ancients Behaving Badly’ named Attila ‘history’s first great terrorist’ and ranked him as history’s greatest psychopath. Count Dracula (in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) went so far to claim to be a descendant of the warrior, perhaps explaining his own bloodlust.

Despite his status as a legendary conqueror and barbarian, Attila died of a common nosebleed, choking on the blood. Researchers have thought that other factors contributed to his demise, such as alcoholism, which caused a rupture in his esophagus and death from internal bleeding. Attila’s death occurred on the same day as his marriage to the princess, Ildico, and therefore, poisoning has often been speculated as a cause of death.

Attila Death

Attila’s burial was shrouded in secrecy, with all those who witnessed the interment being executed. He may have been buried under part of the Tisza River (with the waters temporarily diverted) in a tomb of gold, silver, and iron. Although Attila was succeeded by his son, Ellac, his other children began fighting over Hun territory and the empire was divided, causing the Hun legacy to dissipate.

There have been TV mini-series and movies based off Attila and he has made appearances or been referenced in many other projects. In the Night at the Museum movies, he is portrayed as being simply misunderstood and in need of help. In an episode of Married with Children, he lines up on the devil’s football team to battle Al Bundy, with Bundy’s chance to return to earth up for grabs.

Attila has been used in many other forms of media, including as an occasional adversary to Hagar the Horrible in comics; as part of a planned, but never completed opera by Beethoven; as a hero and villain in various video games; and as a political euphemism, to describe an extreme conservative. McFarlane Toys even released an action figure of the iconic thug, as part of the series, ‘McFarlane’s Monsters III: 6 Faces of Madness.’

Attila Personal Trainer

On Spike TV’s ‘Deadliest Warrior,’ a show which takes historical figures and armies and matches them against each other to see who would win based on weaponry and battle tactics, Attila was matched up against Alexander the Great and defeated the legendary ruler. Attila’s weapons consisted of the Sword of Mars, the Lasso, the Hunnic Bow, and the Scythian Axe and his combat skills while riding horseback are thought to have largely secured the victory.

The oddest tribute came from Calypso musician Raymond Quevedo, who for whatever reason, chose to adopt the Attila the Hun moniker for his recording career. Instead of massacring tribes across Europe, Quevedo turned his artistry into entering the political realm in his home of Trinidad and Tobago. The real Attila the Hun and his exploits were even turned into a pinball machine, released in 1984… I love me some mass-murderer gaming action.

Hungary: Breakfast at the Bar

Breakfast at the Bar Martini

  • Muddle Marmalade
  • 1.25 oz Palinka (Apricot)
  • 0.75 oz Cointreau
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice and Orange Wedge

The Sip Advisor has yet to travel to Hungary, but in Budapest alone, there are 10 different streets named after Attila. This proves that all you need to do is be a total dick during your life and you’ll be remembered and honoured forever!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This was a very good cocktail, offering my first chance to use Marmalade in a drink. It added a unique tangy orange flavour that was very much welcomed. I used a Lemon Slice, as well as an Orange Wedge to add some extra flavour, as well as presentation to the recipe.

September 6 – ABC

A Good Read

With school coming back into session for many little sippers out there (although not here in B.C., where it looks like we might have the makings of a long teacher’s strike), it might be time to snatch some good reading material. While I would never classify myself as an avid reader, there have been some books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Mrs. Sip would love to see me sit down more often with a book, but TV’s warm loving embrace is just too much to break. Here are my favourite books/series throughout life:

#5: Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stein

One of the only things I enjoyed about elementary school (save for gym, recess, and spelling tests… what can I say, I was born to write) was the monthly Scholastic book catalogue that came out, providing me an opportunity to grow my Goosebumps collection, which sits to this day in a drawer at Ma and Pa Sip’s home. I still fondly remember some of these stories, such as Attack of the Mutants, A Night in Terror Tower, and The Phantom of the Auditorium. The covers on these novels alone were enough to chill your blood and get you pumped for your next classroom quiet time. There were 62 releases in the original series and a TV show followed, but when it came to screen screams, I was more of an Are You Afraid of the Dark fan.

goosebumps report

#4: The Rebel League: World Hockey Association by Ed Willes

The World Hockey Association had a brief life, but it changed the landscape of professional hockey and in some circumstances, the entire sports world. Journalist Ed Willes takes the reader through the league’s tumultuous existence from conception to absorption by the NHL, right through a mess of teams going out of business or being relocated. The dichotomy of the league, with its highly-skilled players meshing with fight-filled contests, is just one aspect of a mesmerizing story. Willes captures all the sordid tales and behind-the-scenes dealings that made the WHA such a fascinating flash in the pan. Largely based on this book, I was able to rank the WHA #1 on my list of top defunct sports leagues. I only wish I had been able to experience some of the action in-person.

#3: Get Fuzzy Treasuries by Darby Conley

I never really got into comic books as a youngster, fancying my superheroes on the screen, as opposed to in my hands (save for some of the sexy female heroines). That said, I do prefer to look at brightly coloured pictures, rather than printed words, and that can come in the form of some lighter entertainment. My hands down favourite daily funny is Get Fuzzy, which focuses on the interactions of human Rob Wilco with his pets/roommates Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch. Bucky is a little terror, who is constantly trying to run (scratch that, ruin) the household, while Satchel is a sweet and gentle pup, happy to have a chew toy and a quiet place to nap. Rob just gets stuck in the middle, just like your typical real world pet owner.

GF

#2: Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers by Bathroom Readers’ Institute

I really enjoy learning unknown tidbits about subjects I’m interested in and this series is perfect for exactly that. Thanks to these books, I’m an integral member of any trivia team I’m invited to join (aside from my wonderful personality!) and the lesser known facts my brain is able to absorb have garnered me a fair bit of free booze! The best thing about Bathroom Readers is that you can read one piece or a selection of articles… I guess it depends on how long you’ll be in the bathroom. I personally prefer to not have a book in my hands while I’m on the pot, but admittedly, that is what these releases were meant for. My favourites from the Uncle John library include TV, Movies, and Hockey.

#1: Have a Nice Day by Mick Foley

While my favourite books are sports-related, Mick Foley’s wrestling autobiography is a no-brainer to top this list. And I’m not alone in my fondness for this story. Books released by wrestlers exploded after the success of Mick Foley’s first attempt and the string of publications is going strong to this day. In Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Foley guides us through the earliest days of his life and career with a wit and warmth that makes it extremely hard to put the book down… even for a non-reader such as myself. I have yet to check out Foley’s other two non-fiction releases, but have heard good things about both and should really take the time to pick them up.

Super Saturday Shot Day: ABC

ABC Shot

  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Cognac
  • Garnish with Orange Wedge

Given my penchant for wrestling reads, I would also recommend autobiographies by Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho, as well as the book WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling. There are a number of others I would endorse, but it’s time to get back to the library and go silent!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
You layer the ingredients in A-B-C order and that allowed me to finally use the layering tool I received a few months back. It worked out really well and looks great, am I right!? The shot tasted fantastic, especially when the Irish Crème kicked in following the two liquors, which move a little quicker. Too bad I couldn’t think of a D-garnish to continue the ABC theme.

Korea – Sassy Sojurita

Where to Begin

While I prefer to choose a single topic to cover when posting about most of the countries we’ve visited, Korea (particularly South Korea) had so many blow-my-mind facts about it that I just had to compile a number of them rather than delve into individual items. So, let’s take a peek behind the Korean curtain and see which goodies we can find:

Major communication companies Samsung and LG are based out of Korea and because of this, new phone technology is often released in the country first. Around 98% of Koreans own mobile devices and use them for everything from phone calls to watching live TV to online shopping. Despite Samsung and LG calling Korea home, mobile devices are expensive there, although users are still likely to regularly replace their phones with updated versions.

Samsung Funny

Online gaming is huge in Korea, where players can make some serious cash and become celebrities. Gaming sessions are even broadcast on TV, with the most popular titles including Starcraft, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Lineage. Gaming parlours have opened up around the country, where men, women, and children can visit for gaming fun across a local network. On the negative side, internet and gaming addiction in particular is common and there has even been a few cases of people dying due to marathon gaming sessions.

Koreans don’t shy away from using credit cards, making dramatically more purchases per person, each year, using plastic. Have you ever been somewhere that didn’t accept credit? That’s illegal in Korea. Similarly, every cab has a card reader in it, so no more having to be driven to a bank machine just to pay your fare… take that Tacoma, Washington!

While Koreans work exceptionally hard (an average of 44.6 hours per week), they are also known for their drinking culture. In fact, if someone doesn’t join in on the evening out, getting blitzed on Soju, they are committing a major faux pas and party foul all at once. Drinking games are popular while out on the town. Jinro Soju has consistently been the world’s most sold spirit with an estimated 61 million-plus cases sold in 2011, dwarfing the worldwide sales of Smirnoff Vodka, the number two most popular liquor worldwide, which sold a mere 24 million-plus cases. Pretty epic given most sales for Jinro come domestically.

Soju 30 Shots

Korean golfers are increasingly becoming top stars of the sport, particularly on the women’s side of the ledger. As of July 2014, of the top 50 female golfers, 19 are Korean, including three in the top 10.  At 14 years old, Lydia Ko (born in Korea, but grew up in New Zealand) became the youngest to ever win a professional tournament when she emerged victorious at the Samsung Women’s Open in 2012.

Cartoons such as The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, and King of the Hill have all had their basic animation, in-betweening, and colouring performed in Korea. As for domestic releases, Pororo the Little Penguin is wildly popular, even being given the nickname President Pororo. The flightless bird is so popular that it has a section of a theme park dedicated to it, thousands of products emblazoned with its likeness and will earn millions of dollars for the company that created it.

Korea is the birthplace of the martial art, Taekwondo, which was developed by the South Korean military. Taekwondo’s philosophy includes five tenets: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. South Korea has been awarded the most Olympic medals in the sport with 10 gold, two silver, and two bronze for 14 total. China, the United States, and Chinese Taipei are tied for second most with eight.

World Taekwondo Federation

In Korea, men are just as likely to use cosmetics as their female counterparts, spending about $900 million each year on foundation, makeup, and skincare products. Korean males make up a quarter of the international men’s cosmetics market. In a similar vein, the men of Korea are more likely to have plastic surgery than other parts of the world and that may be partly because it is much cheaper in Korea, causing folks from nearby countries to flock to the republic.

Korea’s music industry is highlighted by pop songs, known as K-Pop, which groups feature mostly young performers. A number of the bands have weird names that combine numbers and letters, including TVXQ, 2PM, B1A4, EXO, 2AM, CNBLUE, MBLAQ, SS501, 2NE1, and GOT7. 2PM and 2AM are rival groups and routinely settle their differences Gangnam Style (also a Korean export).

Sticking with the country’s entertainment industries, the Korean film industry has been dubbed Hallyuwood (using the term Hallyu, which describes the Korean Wave of popular culture being exported from the country, along with the ‘wood’ of Hollywood) and is best known for mini-series dramas. They even had a show called Full House, but I don’t think you’d find the Tanner clan in it.

Korea: Sassy Sojurita

Sassy Sojurita Cocktail

  • 2.5 oz Soju
  • 0.5 oz Pisco
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

I never knew that there was this much neat stuff going on in Korea… and now I want a slice of the action! My night will start with an epic Soju binge (after an exhausting day at work, of course) and then it’s off to the video game parlour for a marathon of online action before practicing some bedroom taekwondo with Mrs. Sip and then repeating it all over again the next day!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Finding Soju recipes isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I was able to track down a couple which were usually adaptations of classic cocktails, simply subbing in Soju for the traditional spirit. I really liked the addition of Pisco to this margarita-style drink and that inclusion likely bumped this libation up half a point. Mrs. Sip bought me this bottle of Soju and ironically, it is in fact from the Jinro company, even before I had heard of it.

Turkey – Fly Swatter

Shop Til You Drop

Traversing the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey can be a daunting task. The Sip Advisor, never one to leave anybody behind, will make sure we all get through unscathed, much like I did for Mrs. Sip in the markets of Egypt… except for that one guy who copped a feel of Mrs. Sip’s beautiful behind when I stopped paying attention, frustrated over the haggling between shopkeeper and customer. Let’s cautiously explore together!

There are also Grand Bazaars in Isfahan, Iran; Tehran, Iran; Urumqi, Xinjiang, China; and Tabriz, Iran. The Istanbul version is the oldest and one of the largest covered markets in the world. It spans 61 streets (each is dedicated to a particular profession) and houses over 3,000 stores. Anywhere between 250,000 to 400,000 people will visit the site each day. The Bazaar is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00am to 7:00pm, and entrance is free. Along with Sundays, the market is closed during religious holidays. The facility employs a colossal 26,000 people. Competition from modern day malls does exist, but the Bazaar has history on its side.

Grand Bazaar

There are four main gates to the Bazaar, including the “Second-Hand Book Sellers’ Gate” in the north, the “Skullcap Sellers’ Gate” in the south, the “Jewellers’ Gate” in the east, and the “Women’s Clothiers’ Gate” in the west. Each entrance is locked every night when the market is closed and opened up again in the morning.

Dealing with the high-pressure salespeople at the market can be a bit of a pain and the haggling system is something that thrills some and perplexes others. The Sip Advisor falls into the puzzled category, preferring marked prices over the mystery of bartering. If you want nothing to do with the dealing, simply walk by and say, “No thanks.” This usually works, except for the occasional loser who physically tries to get your attention and then it’s time for the Sip Advisor to “Hulk up” and throw a couple patented flying forearms.

A restoration of the Bazaar began in 2012 to solve many of the issues plaguing the market. Most notably, the lack of restrooms (I guess you could just pee wherever you like before) and repairing the infrastructure to combat the risk of any future earthquakes. Updates to the facility’s heating and lighting systems are also being carried out.

construction-meme

Construction for what would become the Grand Bazaar began in 1455-56, at the behest of Sultan Mehmet II, and lasted until 1460-61. This building, dedicated to the trading of textiles was soon joined by another building, constructed under Sultan Suleyman I. The textile market was moved to this new structure while luxury goods occupied the older building. The space between and around the edifices was quickly inhabited by other shops, creating a larger market scene. By the 17th century, the Bazaar had taken full shape and become the hub of Mediterranean trade thanks to the quantity, quality, and variety of goods that could be found there.

Fires, earthquakes, and other disasters afflicted the Bazaar over time. There were at least a dozen fires between 1515 and 1701, many of which caused great damage to the shops and structures. The expansion of the 19th century textile industry into western Europe and advancements in production methods took a major toll on the Grand Bazaar, which saw rental prices fall sharply compared to previous decades. Perhaps the Sip Advisor should set up shop in the place and regale customers with my tales of boozery!

The market has also seen its fair share of corruption. The most notable case took place in 1591 when 30,000 gold coins were stolen. The Grand Bazaar was shut down for two weeks while suspects (and likely completely innocent folks) were tortured by the forces tasked with solving the crime. The missing coins were found under some flooring and a young Persian musk dealer was to blame. He was hanged for his transgression, although Sultan Murad III saved him from being tortured to death.

hanged-man

While the Bazaar is now sectioned off into separate “stores”, it used to be that sellers each had their own stall, six to eight feet wide. There was no advertising by shopkeepers (even store names were not displayed) and a buyer could sit down with a vendor over Turkish coffee and come to an agreement in a relaxed conversation. Herbs and spices, crystal, jewellery, silk goods, sandals, armour and weapons, and books are among the items you might be able to find at the Bazaar.  Thankfully, I don’t need any of those.

The market used to operate in a guild system and because of this and the ethics of Islam, business operators didn’t compete as they do today. Prices were fixed to a standard number and success was shared among the union. Western influences changed that, as did other nationalities entering the Bazaar world to sell their wares. There was also a lack of restaurants in the market back in the day. You could still find simple items such as kebabs, but most workers brought their lunch from home. The Bazaar was a place for social gatherings among Turks, much like punk kids meet at the mall today to stare at their smartphones.

Nowadays, I only go to the mall to enjoy a cold beer. I don’t think that would be happening in Turkey, so might as well stay here and enjoy my own stock!

Turkey: Fly Swatter

Fly Swatter Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Scotch
  • 0.5 oz Raki
  • Top with Orange Juice and Apple Juice
  • Garnish with Orange Wedge

I’m not big on shopping in general, but these market set-ups really take the cake. How do all you little sippers feel about them? Love’em? Hate’em? Just plain don’t care? Let me know. I’m glad we all made it through the Bazaar and only a handful of you lost your spouses or fortunes. Next up, we try Turkey’s traditional national sport: oiled wrestling. Yup, you read that right!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I altered the ingredients slightly, using Sparkling Orange Juice, rather than plain old OJ and Apple-Lime Juice, instead of regular AJ. The result was pretty good for this booze heavy cocktail and the only ingredient I worried about, the Raki, fit in just right.