Friday, April 29, 2005

Slivovitz -- nectar of HaShem

Good Shabbos Good Yuntiff! So why am I blogging? Why not? After all, did they blog when they built the Mishkan in the Midbar? So blogging is therefore a perfectly Shabbosdik activity. QED. End of discussion.

But to get to the point. Tonight my brain cells hve been assaulted by a good dose of of ethanol in the form of slivovitz, G-d's gift to k'lal yisra'el. Yes, the goyim in eastern Europe drink it too, but this plum distillate is the classic Pesach drink, which was introduced to me by my zayde of blessed memory (even though I called him "grandpa.") Grandpa always had a shot of the holy liquid right before we ate the afikomen. Alas, he passed to the olam haba before I came of legal drinking age, but my uncle accepted the task of serving me when I reached that milestone in my life. Now I return that favor by serving my uncle with a shot when he attends the seders that I host.

Once I started my own household, I was partial to the version produced by Carmel Mizarachi in the late 1980's. In fact, there was a time, on the last night of Hannukah, in about 1988 (or maybe it was '89), I took a bottle to a cabin in a National Park, where I spent the night with some friends in the immortal "brain fry," where we almost burnt down the cabin by lighting my Chanukkah menorah, but in the end it was a kiddush Hashem because my Gentile friends were very impressed with Chanukkah and with slivovitz. (There were other mind-altering substances present besides slivovitz, but I shall not talk of them at this time, except to say that after this experience one of my friends went "on the wagon" "cold turkey." But the "brain fry" did not result in any property damage or personal injury.)

Soon after that Yugoslavia became "the former Yugosalvia" and because of the trade embargo against Serbia, no slivovitz could be found anywhere. Even the Israeli stuff disappeared because (according to the guy at the liquor store) the Israelis had imported their plums from Serbia.

However, by '93 or '94, we began to see slivovitz available from Hungary and from the Czech Republic. At the dawn of the 21st century, after the former Yugoslavia has calmed down a bit, Croatian (Maraska) and Serbian (Navip) slivovitz are now available in the stores. There's even a US slivovitz fesitval complete with the results of a tasting competition.

As they say:

"What is Slivovitz? For you poor wretches who have never had the chance to taste slivovitz, it is pure plum brandy, carefully distilled from the finest plums and aged until the distiller knows it is ready to drink. Sipped, slammed, savored, or shot - Slivovitz will change your outlook on life just as it has for millions of fans for hundreds of years. Na zdravlje!"

This year, we’re working with the Makor-Steinhardt in Manhattan to host a Satellite Slivovitz Festival at the Makor near the 92nd Street Y.)

Anyway, I would say that slivovitz and other forms of ethanol are what is keeping this Conservative Apikoris "on the derech." During the week, I don't particularly care to drink, as I have to get up early in the morning and face a long commute. But on Shabbos and Yuntiff, there's nothing like an alcoholic buzz to make me feel good about HaShem and His creation. And we're talking "buzz" here, not fraternity-party wasted. I do try to get up on Saturday mrning and get to shul before they do the 'amidah.

Tonight, while I was preparing an exquisite Sbaoos/Yom Tove Kosher 'lePasach dinner, I decided to experiment with slivovitz cocktails. Last year, I invented the "Serbian Suicide," which consists of a shot of the alcohollic plum nectar mixed with Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic. For some reason, our local stores did not stock any Cel-Ray that was kosher for Passover this year. But they did have the Black Cherry and Cream sodas on hand. So this evening, while I was waithing for dinner to cook, I experimented. Slivovitz and black cherry soda is very, very good, the plum notes from the slivovitz complement the cherry flaor very well. Slivowitz and cream soda is also not bad, certainly better than a Serbian Suicide.

Well, that's all for now, I'm starting to fade, better have another shot of slivovitz, or maybe 'arak.

On the other hand, I', supposed to daven pesukei d;zimra tomorrow morning, maybe I shoukd just take a couple of tums and an advil and go to bed.

Good shabbos, good yom tov!


Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I know the drink well. First encountered it at a Bar Mitzvah of a dear friend when I was 14 and the experienced was burned into my mind.

Like Manna from heaven it is, pure ambrosia. Ok, maybe not, but I do have fond memories of it.

3:23 AM  
Anonymous Neo-Conservaguy said...

It's jet fuel, pure and simple - it messed with your mind, hence the posting on Shabbos AND Yom Tov - two strikes for the price of one bottle of rotgut. That's fifteen more minutes of tshuva on Yom Kippur for you my friend. Hopefully, fire from heaven didn't consume you and your "strange offering" while you were davening the next morning.

Not that I've had any experience with this crap, but I've "heard" that the more aged varieties are quite a bit smoother than the three year old stuff. Either way it keeps me - er, one who drinks it - warm for the walk home on a blustery Shabbos morning. Damn, I miss driving to shul sometimes.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

"Rotgut?" How can you call something with the holy Star-K certification "rotgut?" I, of course, was drinking Maraska, the only stuff I could find with a pesach hekhsher, although why slivovitz needs a pesach hekhsher is beyond me.

Sure, I'd rather that the 10-year old Jelinik would have a Pesach hekhsher, that's the stuff i drink year round, but the maraska isn't too bad:

Maraska – Confusion reigned at the tasting, and not just because we’d been drinking slivovitz all day. Maraska got scores all over the board. Some of us loved it, for it’s huge mouthful of plum skin bitterness, pit bite, and fruit. Others despised it, for it’s huge mouthful of plum skin bitterness and pit bite. The conclusion? Half of the judges are idiots. You’ll have to decide which half. Don’t serve this to slivovirgins, it might scare them off. The experienced slivovitz drinker will appreciate the burn.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

t's jet fuel, pure and simple - it messed with your mind, hence the posting on Shabbos AND Yom Tov - two strikes for the price of one bottle of rotgut. That's fifteen more minutes of tshuva on Yom Kippur for you my friend.

Didn't you read my first paragraph? I committed no sin by posting on Shabbos/Yom Tov. As our traditions say, the Shabbos/Yom Tov prohibitions are derived from the tasks needed to build the Tabernacle in the desert. Not only is not no mesorah that blogging or internet use in general was performed as part of building the Tabernacle, there's no historical or archeological evidence that people had computers, internet, or wi-fi 3,500 years ago. So from both the Orthodox and Conservative perspective (i.e mesorah and historical-positive), it seems that inernet use on Shabbos and Yom Tov is absolutely permitted, and it's only becuase of the UO predilicition for chumros that it is forbidden.

I might be willing to reconsider if you can show me an authentic e-mail from Moshe to Bezalel regarding Tabernacle buisness, or Korach's blog mocking the whole enterprise.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend of mine of Slovak origin once told me she was going to get some "plum cognac" for her boyfriend's uncle... I said, "Yeah, we drink that stuff at shul. Slivovitz." She said, "Right, Slivovitsa!" Apparently they make it in Slovakia too.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might be willing to reconsider if you can show me an authentic e-mail from Moshe to Bezalel regarding Tabernacle buisness, or Korach's blog mocking the whole enterprise.

First of all, my impression is that the Holy of Holies for at least the first (real) Temple had a damn fast broadband network connection with priority routing direct to the Heavens and it was capable of some fairly impressive analog-to-digital conversions when it was time to transport (a la Star Trek) the High Priest on Yom Kipur for his Executive Conference with The Big Guy. So don't give me that "not invented yet so I can blog on Shabbos if I want to" silliness.

A quick check of: The Internet Archive reveals they haven't quite found and loaded those older backup tapes, so we have to put aside your challenge for now. In the meantime, how about a compromise: you can write your blog entries but can't hit the "Publish" button on Shabbos, because that would be completing the task - one of the original banned activities that doesn't involve the Internet. So sorry; it's back to enjoying a good walk to shul and a nice Shabbos nap for the lot of ya. I'll pour you a nice l'Chaim of plum brandy to make it worth your while...

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