Archive for September 6th, 2007

Gin Palates

I got an e-mail message about Intelligent Life, apparently the Economist’s sister magazine, which promises the following:

In our autumn issue, learn about the engineering brain behind molecular gastronomy and how it has led to the creation of the perfect, but $10,000, gin & tonic.

In the real world, the perfect gin & tonic does not exist, and there are lots of examples that can be offered in evidence of this fact.

One is that no two gin and tonics taste exactly the same. The same drink sampled atop a yacht in the British Virgin Islands, and on an empty stomach in a refugee camp, would produce different effects on the drinker. In the particular case furnished by the Economist, the fact of exchanging $10,000 dollars for a drink is likely to impair the taste for the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants. Even for the captain of industry atop his yacht, the first gin and tonic would taste differently to the second (unless molecular gastronomy has evolved to the point where alcohol has no cumulative effect on the body; in which case, it would cease to be alcohol, at least in the way we understand the purposes of alcohol).

If I had more time, I’d elaborate on the nature of the fetish for perfection manifest in the magazine article, and how under the dominant order many people pride themselves upon the scientific rationality underpinning their world view whilst all the time remaining in thrall to pseudo-religious passions. But I haven’t.

On a somewhat related topic, I finished The Threat to Reason by Dan Hind the other day, and was quite impressed by it. I may write a review in the next couple of days. (Regular readers know how such forecasts tend to work)


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