A History of the World in 6 Glasses by TomStandageAre we culturally defined by what we drink or defined by the drink itself? In "A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 6 GLASSES," by Tom Standage, we findout just how necessary and unavoidable the answer to this question really is. The author explores the origins of mankinds favorite brews and beverages throughout the ages and concludes on the historical influence of each one. To begin with, Beer;
"In both cultures [Egypt and Mesopotamia], beer was a staple foodstuff without it no meal was complete. It was consumed by everyone, rich and poor, men and women, adults and children, from the top of the social pyramid to the bottom. It was truly the defining drink of these first great civilizations." The author, Tom Standage begins by discussing the history of beer while presenting the story of the start of cereal grains, the development of farming, early migrations, and the development of river valley societies in Egypt and Mesopotamia. He talks of beer as a discovery rather than an invention, and how it was first used alternately as a social drink with a shared vessel, as a form of edible money, and as a religious offering. As urban water supplies became contaminated, beer also became a safer drink. Beer became equated with civilization and was the beverage of choice from the begining one ones life to the end. By discussing global processes such as the increase of agriculture, urban settlement, regional trade patterns, the evolution of writing, and health and nutrition, Standage provides the needed global historical context for the social evolution of beer. More over, Wine,
Thucydides: "the peoples of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the olive and the vine." Standage introduces wine through a discussion of early Greek and Roman society. Wine is initially associated with social class as it was exotic and scarce, being expensive to transport without breakage. The masses drank beer. Wine conveyed power, prestige, and privilege. Wine then came to embody Greek culture and became more widely available. It was used not only in the Symposium, the Greek drinking parties, but also medicinally to clean wounds and as a safer drink than water. Roman farmers combined Greek influence with their own farming background through viticulture, growing grapes instead of grain which they imported from colonies in North Africa. It became a symbol of social differentiation and a form of conspicuous consumption where the brand of the wine mattered. With the fall of the Roman Empire, wine continued to be associated with Christianity and the Mediterranean. Global processes highlighted here include the importance of geography, climate and locale, long distance trade, the rise and fall of empires, the movement of nomadic peoples, and the spread of religion. likewise, Spirits,
"Rum was the liquid embodiment of both the triumph and the oppression of the first era of globalization." In this section, the author introduces the fact that the process of distillation originated in Cordoba by the Arabs to allow the miracle medicine of distilled wine to travel better. He talks of how this idea was spread via the new printing press, leading to the development of whiskey and, later, brandy. Much detail is provided on the spirits, slaves, and sugar connection where rum was used as a currency for slave payment. Sailors drank grog (watered-down rum), which helped to alleviate scurvy. Standage argues that rum was the first globalized drink of oppression. Its popularity in the colonies, where there were few other alcoholic beverage choices, led to distilling in New England. This, he argues, began the trade wars which resulted in the molasses act, the sugar act, the boycotts of imports, and a refusal to pay taxes without representation. Indeed, he wonders whether it was rum rather than tea that started the American Revolution. He also discusses the impact of...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document