SoFAB Celebrates the Green Fairy During August
BY Chris Smith
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has created a series of events in August that celebrate one of the most misunderstood potables of all time.
Absinthe Minded is an event that includes lectures about absinthe, tastings, a photo exhibit and an artifact exhibit. It is sponsored by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including Artemisia absinthium, also known as wormwood. Traditionally, it has a natural green color but it can also appear as colorless. Historically, it is referred to as “la fee verte,” or the Green Fairy.
Absinthe is a spirit – not a liqueur which is bottled and has sugar added to it. Absinthe is unusual in that it is bottled at a high proof and usually is diluted with water or other liquids when consumed.
Absinthe has been labeled as a dangerous mind-altering drug because of the presence of the chemical thujone. It was banned in the United States and in most European countries by 1915. It was recently legalized in this country after evidence showed that it was no more dangerous than ordinary spirits.
Many absinthe experts believe that the spirit was banned because it was popular among the bohemian culture of artists and writers, including Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley.
The revival absinthe began in the 1990s and today, more than 200 brands of absinthe are produced.
The SoFAB absinthe celebration includes the following events.
Absinthe Visions: The Photography of Damian Hevia
Opens Saturday, July 17, 2010
Seminar – The History of Absinthe
2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 7, 2010
Ted Breaux, a native New Orleanian, is the person credited with bringing the American ban on absinthe to an end. He will tell how he did this, and he will discuss the history of the Green Fairy.
Seminar – The History of Herbsaint
2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 14, 2010
Jay Hendrickson is an expert on Herbsaint, the main substitute for absinthe that continues to be produced in New Orleans to this day. He will explain all things Herbsaint and how the history of the spirit is linked to the Crescent City. He also will discuss Herbsaint as it relates to the history of absinthe.
Seminar – Absinthe in Art and Literature
2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 21, 2010
Todd Price, the author of a weekly Times Picayune alcohol column, discusses the cultural significance of absinthe and how it ties New Orleans not just to France but also to other European countries. He will examine absinthe as it is portrayed in art and literature, and how absinthe’s mystery transferred to the new continent.
Seminar – The Long Legal History of the Green Fairy
2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 28, 2010
Liz Williams, a native New Orleanian and founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, is a lawyer who writes about the legal aspects of food, reflecting culture, policy and economics. She is currently working on a book about obesity lawsuits and other food-related litigation in the U.S. She will discuss the legal history of absinthe, how it became banned, and how the ban was eventually lifted.
Each lecture will be followed by an absinthe tasting/demonstration. All attendees must be of legal drinking age.
Each lecture is $10 for members; $15 for nonmembers.
For more information, contact the museum at 504-569-0405.