More Bad Beer History

Yesterday this nonsense was posted on a beer-related Instgram account that nearly18,000 people follow: “The word ‘toast,’ meaning a wish of good health, started in ancient Rome, where a piece of toasted bread was dropped into wine.” What a load of tripe.

While there might be an etymological connection from the latin torrere, to parch, there is no clear connection between a Roman tradition of adding bread to wine and the word “toast” being used in the afore mentioned way.

Bread and wine were staple foods in the ancient world and as such, likely made for decent bed fellows. There is no fundamental objection to saying the two went together in some combination. However, Romans added a lot of things to their wine: water, honey, various herbs and spices. Bread was likely among that list of things, but if you do any amount of reading on the subject you’ll find numerous additives far more common than bread.

What little substantiation there is to be found on the matter indicates that the charcoal on toasted bread was a means of dulling off flavors in wine, like some kind of pre-modern Brita Filter, or that it was meant to cut wine’s acidity. Neither claim about bread’s ability to perform those tasks can be rejected out of hand, but the addition of water was a more likely way of cutting acidity, as was honey and herbs to cover off flavors. Moreover, any historical precedent given as evidence for this to be true cites customs from the 1700s rather than those from classical antiquity.

The word toast (both the food and the action) might well be derived from the original latin verb. But to indicate there is a straight line between that word, and a Roman tradition of adding bread to wine becoming a metonym for honoring someone or something before a drink is a gross oversimplification of things. Rarely is history so linear.

If that were the case, wedding speeches would all started something like this: “I’d like to propose a combination of water and honey and maybe a few herbs? Is that coriander or hyssop? I can’t tell. Anyway, I’ve known Jim for a long time now…”

Here’s to keeping bad history out of beer.

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The Evolution of Jon Jones’ Lies

Earlier this week the Nevada Athletic Commission reach and agreement with Jon Jones, suspending him for one year, retroactive to July 6 when his failed tests were announced. The terms of the decision are in line with those Jones and USADA previously agreed to, making the Jackson-Winkeljohn phenom eligible to fight again midway through summer 2017. For fight fans this is good news. Jones is a marvel in the cage and at 29 years of age has many good years of fighting left in him.

In the months leading up to this, Jones has maintained his innocence, along with a period of well-advised media silence. A notable exception came on December 1 when he appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast for a lengthy, candid interview. From his admission to getting black out drunk the week before every fight, to the details of his hit and run car accident in New Mexico, Jones seemed an open book. When it came to his most recent kerfuffle, a positive test for two banned substances, Jones was equally forthcoming. However, a closer look at  the conversation with Rogan, along with previous attempts to explain the events leading up to his ingesting a tainted “dick pill,” revealed disturbing inconsistencies.

At an hour and fourteen minutes into the podcast Jones stated that his teammate’s girlfriend is a pharmacist and because of this, had access to things like Viagra and Vicodin. When Rogan asked where she obtained the pills, Jones claimed he did not know. This might seem like a plausible story if it did not contradict previous statements regarding the now much talked about male enhancement pill.

That Jones got the pill from a teammate seems to be the only part of the story which remains unchanged. The teammate in question is Eric Blasich. Blasich submitted to evidence a written statement on the events that lead up to his giving Jones a tainted tadalafil pill, as did Jones. Even these statements go against what had been previously said; written testimony indicates Jones and Blasich were having dinner with multiple teammates when the exchange took place, while the oral evidence states that only their wrestling coach, Israel Martinez was present. Blasich also went on to produce invoices as proof he purchased the pills, without any mention of his pharmacist girlfriend.

These disparities were noted by many, including the the very panel in charge of Jone’s hearing, which went so far as to note the written evidence provided by Jones and Blasich seemed cooked by Jones’ manager Malki Kawa. Stephie Haynes pointed them out in an article for Bloody Elbow, as did Iain Kidd

In spite of such dubious circumstances, both USADA and the NAC have gone easy on Jones. Don’t forget the NAC is the same sanctioning body that tried to levy a half million dollar fine and five year suspension on Nick Diaz after he tested positive for marijuana, and dropped a lifetime ban on Wanderlei Silva for not testing at all. Jones has been compliant through this process, something neither of the afore mentioned seemed to be, but compliance should not cancel out what appear to be blatant lies.

What’s done is done. A verdict has been rendered and come next July, Jones will be free to fight again. Whatever aspersions we might cast on his character certainly do not carry over to the cage. He will go down as one of, if not the greatest, of all time. During the interview with Rogan Jones mentioned how much tape he studies, watching things over and over, noting which combinations opponents favor, which side they prefer to shoot, and so on until he knows exactly what a person will do in any given circumstance. In fighting, Jones knows that often times the devil is in the details. The same is true for lies; it’s not always the lie that will get a person caught, it’s the story used to support a lie that become its undoing. It’s the pharmacist girlfriend with dick-pills-aplenty or the dinner with teammates or maybe just one teammate or the hastily typed statement by a manager that doesn’t jive with what has already been said.

The whole truth of this will likely never be known. Save for a tell all memoir years from now or perhaps some new hard evidence coming to light, what really happened will remain locked inside the heart and mind of a small few. For now, the only place we should expect the truth out of Jon Jones is in the cage.