As a bit of a prologue I find myself examining local food and connections to what I consume through very different eyes this week as I find myself enjoying Glasgow as part of a business trip. It`s been an odd week exploring a different version of local as well as very odd seeing products that I can buy at home that are just as available here.
The quest to find something local has been interesting – for example, a Scottish Ale with a very Celtic name turns out to be the product of a large US Brewery. While being a decent beer, it is more American than the Czech Budweiser (that fascinating storyhere). It has been very odd – of not concerning – to see bottles of wine, booze and coffee that I can buy the exact flavor so far back at home. As someone who is a major fan of terroir and non-snobby exclusivity, the thought of many of these offerings have lost their previous allure.
Having said that, there is also room for exception.
Our posts are continuing to appear around the clock as Dana and I are writing from half a world apart from each other – I`m in an odd vortex of time zones (for example, I have a meeting at 9AM Glasgow time in the morning and then another 7 hours later at 11AM EASTERN STANDARD TIME). I`m living in two places at once – going to sleep on Toronto time and waking up too late Scottish time. I feel like I`m living in two different places at the same time.
My odd sense of time travel was further stymied this evening as I sat at a hotel bar after a lovely dinner with some business associates. I sipped a beer with a newish colleague and we traded laughs as we got to know each other better.
My colleague is a fan of brandy. He `twisted my arm` to have a second night-cap and I decided to join him and his desire to sip a tipple of Brandy. If the idea of drinking Brandy (or Scotch) sounds less than appetizing or your are intrigued as to how in the world someone could enjoy the taste, you may be interested in learning the basics of learning how to drink either. As you`ll learn in that link, I learned from my mentor many years ago.
Dr Michael Stanwick was many, many things. He was a philosopher, teacher, inspiration and lover of food and drink. As a man who dropped out of Grade nine 3 separate times he was one of few teachers to get their doctorate in Education. I had the privilege of learning how to teach from him by shadowing him 4-nights a week for almost 2 years. He remains as one of the largest influences in my life many years after his passing and many more since we worked together.
My development had a process. Go to night school with the kind Doctor, lay my best efforts on the line and return to his house (2 doors down) where we would recap the evening over a few beer or, more than likely, a few brandy. A typical night would easily see a 4-hour recap of a 3-hour teaching session and would easily break down to philosophy, spirituality, divining and other things. Sometimes the conversation was calm, other times it would be a single tirade from him or I and on the rare occasion it would be a crazy intellectual argument.
One of the largest honours in my life remains being cited as an academic reference to his Doctoral Thesis. My library of reference he quoted came, primarily, from these brandy-infused conversations.
So I sat at a bar this evening with a near stranger and sipped from a similar bottle of elixir that I used to share with my mentor. It wasn`t the same nor was it unique or local to either place but it was just as powerful. Like it or not, part of my local diet is what I have consumed in times and places that I was in – regardless of where the product was manufactured. I`m not trying to make the case that Brandy was local – just that despite it`s origination, there`s very little that can bring back the memory of my fallen mentor than that taste and the conversation I had tonight. I was a lovely moment.
As I approach the end of the evening I find myself in a wonderful glow – feeling as though I`ve somehow shared just one more glass with an old friend…or perhaps a new one.