So, there’s something I must confess to my readers. I am a teetotaler. Let me give you a moment to:
1). Click and look up the word, if you don’t know the meaning, and
2). Get over your initial shock
The other night’s festivities (St. Patrick’s Day), my birthday aside, left me questioning whether or not I should start partaking in the “spirits.” (Ironic, isn’t it, considering I was born on the day with perhaps the heaviest alcohol consumption in the U.S. – something my friends have always lamented because I’ve avoided bars on my birthday). While I haven’t disclosed my age (I won’t, but assume I’m “legal”), not a single person who does know my age hasn’t been absolutely floored when I tell them I’ve never had a drop of alcohol. Reactions have ranged from quizzically puzzled to outright disbelief and momentary disability.
Here are some typical first responses:
1. “Is it due to medical reasons?”
2. “Is it due to religious beliefs?”
3. “Are you against drinking?”
4. “But, you’re such a foodie!!”
5. Simply, “How?” (my favorite)
Here have been my answers (in brief):
2. “No. Well, sort of – but not really.”
3. “No. I object only if it is willfully abused.”
4. “I know. But, on the upside, I do save a lot of money.” (to which my inquisitor registers some admiration and personal regret)
5. “Easy, my parents never drank, so I never was tempted. Also, I saw a lot of alcohol abuse among my peers and was, quite frankly, turned off by it. In fact, my distaste for the activity of drinking grew as I entered into the college days where binge drinking was very prevalent.”
There you have it – the whys and wherefores of the Ulterior Epicure’s abstinence.
So, I’ve been seriously contemplating on starting to consume alcohol – principally wines. Really, #4 above has haunted me… it is true – I think that my gustatory pleasures would be greatly enhanced by wine. Intimidation aside, cost is a prohibitive factor.
However, for all the reasons I have not consumed alcohol, none remain that constrain me – other than the novelty of being able to claim I don’t drink at all. And, really, that’s all that it comes down to… virgin pride…
10 replies on “teetotaler…”
Drinking wine can be, as you know, a habit both pleasant and expensive. On the one hand matching the right wine to a fine dish is the gustatory equivalent of putting together a really wonderful outfit – the beautiful suit is suddenly even better with that touch of color…
On the other hand, really good food can stand on its own.
You don’t drink wine, I don’t watch tv, we all have our little quirks, don’t we?
all your points have been considered… i know… sigh…
you’re not alone on the t.v. bit (okay, except for isolated peeks on the food network).
I don’t drink either. In fact, I can’t – I get sick. When he heard I didn’t drink, the sommelier at Le Bernardin said solemnly, “I’m sorry”. I do watch some TV though, mostly “Law and Order”.
Law and Order used to be my favorite show. Now that I’m in law school, I don’t watch much TV, and I watch no Law and Order. My whole life is law and Order (although it’s rarely as exciting.)
As far as alcohol is concerned, while i’m absolutely not a foodie (see my comments on Heidi’s blog) However, I am a “beer snob.” Weird.
1. sorry, can’t comment about law and order – don’t know up from down there…
2. i know plenty of “beer snobs” – and hey, all foodie weirdos are welcomed on this blog!
p.s. i did read your posting on heidi’s blog.
Thank you for introducing me to a great new word; although given the high rate of alcoholism among attorneys I do not know how often I will get to use it.
I’ve been on both sides of this issue – I didn’t drink til I was 21, and I’m 26 and do now. My advice is simply to stick to your guns, whatever they may be. Choosing to drink, not drink, or only drink a little is a lifestyle choice and like any lifestyle choice, being true to yourself is the most important consideration. Since you seem to be doing that, you’re making the right choice. Damn, I sound like Dr. Phil.
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Ive just finished reading all your posted reviews (at least those linked on the front page) in one sitting. Obviously, I liked what you write. In the course thereof I picked up on the teetotal thing. Ive been a devoted wine drinker for about twenty-five years, and its complexities surely do more for my soul than food, much as food sometimes transports one. I agree with the comment posted above about the occasional (often serendipitous) match that elevates food and wine to a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Indeed, there is much fun to be had in creating such pairings at home where you can adjust ingredients. However, when it comes to the elaborately constructed restaurant dishes, and their progression, that interest serious foodies such as yourself, I would think wine close to superfluous when it comes to matters of taste alone. Unless the pairing is specifically prescribed by the chef to create an intended effect, the match of an arbitrary choice, even an informed one, is much too unpredictable for it to add consistently to the dining experience. Even in those meals where each dish is paired with a glass of wine, I dont get the feeling that the wine is integral at anything more than a fairly trivial level. It is more of an added-on-after component, albeit to the greater good. And even less likely in these circmstances is the dish likely to add to the wine. As someone who believes passionately in wine as a messenger of the Earth, I find the alteration of wine by food to be a double edged sword. Things are gained and things are lost. By adding wine to a meal I think you add an element of uncertainty, and take the creation out of the chef’s hands to some degree. Because I get so much out of wine, the dining experience for me is greater with it. And the inevitable buzz has its own benefits of course. But for these I am prepared to forego certain subtleties and sensations on the food side. I suspect you would not. And these losses grow as the meal progresses. My most prized wine experiences are in simple settings: typically early in the evening, before the meal has complicated my palate, alone or with a good friend, and prefereably with a whole bottle to chart its evolution, let its soul emerge, so to speak.
Despite their glorious pairing in creating a convivial evening on many levels, for the kind of review you are writing,the level of analysis you engage in, and the heights of palate artistry that these high-end chefs aspire to, I think I’d find that the stories told in great wine and great food are each too complex in their own right to benefit from being mixed up. That said, Id never choose to have a meal without wine. Life is just more fun that way, and analysis has its limits.
Thanks db for your comments. I’m actually seriously re-evaluating my teetotaling ways. I know that wine can very much enhance a meal – especially for sensitive/discerning palates. I think my especially hightened sense of taste and smell would really be put to good use in wine tasting. I will be sure to let you know if I do.