Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Don't let baijiu happen in America!

...Actually, do let it happen.  The resulting debauchery could be really entertaining.

Baijiu (pronounced 'bye-jyoh') is China's national drink and also the most popular liquor in the world, with sales over double that of the next most popular, vodka.

I've not drank very much baijiu during my year in China, which I see as a personal victory.  But I have (1) drank baijiu from a bottle that had a scorpion in it and (2) drank baijiu on the Great Wall of China, north of Beijing.  And I've never drank it to excess, which, since it can be up to 130 proof and not exactly free of contaminants, means I've only had a couple of shots at a time.

Yes, I said shots, because that's how you drink baijiu in China.  You yell "ganbei" and everyone at the table finishes their glass.  And you do it over, and over, and over...  The actual Chinese men's drinking and toasting culture is a little deeper and more complex than that, but since I don't speak much Chinese and don't go to many banquets, that's my interpretation.  Also, you can't really sip something that is 65% alcohol, even if it is tropical flavored.  Just holding it up to your face starts to burn the hair off the inside of your nose.

All that to get to the point, described in this article from Yahoo! Finance, that a few geniuses have decided that sorghum liquor needs to come to the American side of the world.  While I'm all about choice and the freedom to drink what you wish, I don't think that their reasoning passes muster.
"Sake has become ubiquitous with Japanese dining and tequila with Mexican," Dor said. "Chinese cuisine has never had this natural complement. We see a great opportunity to change this."
Anyone who has eaten Chinese food in China knows that cheap, cheap pijiu (beer) is the correct pairing for Chinese food.  Especially anything from northern or western China that has lots of "ma-la" spice to it.  Mmm... Hot Pot...  I'm making myself hungry here and I just finished breakfast!

Anyways, if you happen to see some baijiu on the shelf at your local liquor shop, you probably want to steer clear.  Especially for $30 or more.