Drinking the history of a people

Drinking the history of a people

An Original Work by Gastrofelicidade aka Alfredo Luiz; Translated by Peter Banks

At times we need to stop. A rare thing in this meat grinder that is living. It's just that sometimes we get lost in the middle of the road. Sometimes we go on other people's paths and never return to our own. Sometimes the world's problems--misery, global warming, transnational economic uncertainty--impose themselves with such urgency that our little pains seem insignificant. It sounds selfish to deal with them. But, it is sometimes necessary to break the infinite circle of time and undertake an encounter with ourselves.

There are those who run. There are those who meditate. There are those who find in religion the space to meet their fragile human reflection. It is a movement of deep intimacy, of absolute particularity. In those moments, we ask permission from the world, ignoring the opinions of others and accusatory looks. We dedicate ourselves to the most difficult of all human endeavors, to feel and be true to ourselves, without intermediaries or company. It is scary.

For this difficult, as well as necessary, mission, I am aided by cachaça. Cachaça, never other alcohol. In this rite of reunion, it is necessary to be complete; complete and conscious. The thing that too much alcohol normally drives away.

Cachaça is a rite. I've said it before. That liquid, now white, now yellow is the synthesis of our culture. So I look at it with respect. I know that it is filled with generational memories. It is liquid celebration.

Understanding that there are a thousand hands that, over the centuries, have brought us this delight, is an important part of this journey. I thank those people for the story that orbits the pinga. Although it is not mine, nor my family's, it is the story of perseverance and inventiveness of a people; my people. My story, although small, simple and irrelevant, is part of the cultural mosaic. In a few centuries, I will be represented by cachaça. Cachaça for me, in these moments of reflection, is proof that all of us manage to be eternal.

Okay, it's a delicate subject, our own extinction is. For this reason, in my rite, I thank those who, more sensitive to a certain whisper of the cultural implications of cachaça, strive to transform history into flavor. These masters conquer the art of making. They know about pinga and learned to negotiate with fire. They use knowledge as old as the old world; millennial knowledge, which was brought here and embraced immigrant stories. To ignore that wisdom is to transform the beauty of human culture into a product for immediate satisfaction.

The human movement between conflict and fraternization is what these makers understand, giving color and flavor to our drink. And it is these flavors that I surrender to in order to find myself. I pour a good dose of the chosen one into the glass. From the color and the smell of cane that invades my nose, I already imagine what is to come. Or rather, I long for her as a couple on the first date. Here comes the sip. I let the cachaça take over my mouth. I surrender to her. There is no more world out there. It's just that pinga moving my tongue, demanding attention. Although flavors are not good storytellers, they are great at the art of suspense. They insinuate, hide, sensualize, never bringing answers, always encouraging us to seek, invent, signify.

In these moments of self-reflection, the ballroom is the mouth where the tongue and cachaça dance; through the nose impressions of the party arrive. It is as if we were outside the dance, listening to what goes on inside. We imagine the mood, the couples, the stories.

This ritual gives me humanity. It makes me realize that I am matter; I am also sensations, affections. By allowing myself to break with the vicious cycle of routine and accept the sensation of cachaça caressing my mouth and unraveling the flavors it hides, I take time from the world around me. At the same time, as I pay homage to the pinga, I praise everyone who has come before, who has taken care of the pinga’s well-being, which reinforces my belief that it is the memories of its creators. It is an adventures described by sounds, images, written codes and, why not, by a liquid whose cultural strength has survived more than 500 years in our collective imagination.

To your health ...

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