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Uncorking the history of alcohol

lau-andree-52.jpg
by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

Did you know liquor used to be considered safer to drink than water? Or that French soldiers in the First World War stayed hydrated with wine?

I was lucky enough to attend a free lecture held by my alma mater (wow, when did I get old enough to use that term?) this week on how alcohol evolved through history from being a lifesaver — because water was so unsafe — to a lifestyle choice.

Presented by Carleton University professor and wine columnist Rod Phillips, the hour zipped by pretty quickly from a wine fountain built in Venice to quench shipbuilders of the 17th century to various temperance movements to how pasteurization actually came out of Louis Pasteur’s research into the spoiling of wine and beer

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(Courtesy Teatro)

The presentation was held at downtown Calgary restaurant Teatro, which is housed in a former bank. As a bonus, we were given a tour of its incredible wine cellar featuring 10,000 bottles — some costing $1,800 — in the former bank vault.

When I went to Carleton, some of the hardest courses to get into were Introduction to Astrology and Death and the Afterlife.

Not that it had anything to do with most students' mandatory requirements, but they were extremely popular because they were fairly easy, and yet extremely interesting lessons.

These days, Carleton has added a few other courses I’d be clamouring to get into, including the Cultural History of Food and Phillip’s third-year level Social History of Alcohol.

What kind of food or drink-related courses have you taken? What kind of fun facts or lessons have you learned?

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Comments

Casey

Ottawa

I've actually taken Phillips history of alcohol course at Carleton. It is extremely interesting and you definitely learn a lot.

One objection is to speak of the simplicity of the course. Yes, odds are you do retain most of the information because he's amazing, but it's still a very demanding course.

Posted December 22, 2009 06:31 AM

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

About the writers

Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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