Posts Tagged With: National Vodka Day

National Vodka Day

October 4 is National Vodka Day! It’s also National Taco Day, but you won’t lose if you choose the booze. Really, there’s room for both around the dining room table!

Vodka comes from the Slavic word voda, which means “water.” Appropriate, given that many dismiss vodka for its lack of flavor. True, it doesn’t taste like a Christmas tree like some alcoholic beverages we know (I’m talking to you, gin!), but it sure does pack a punch. And really, isn’t that the point of a good spirit?! By definition, vodka is a combination of mostly water and ethanol, so if you’re out drinking in the middle of nowhere and run out of gas, fear not! Chances are good you’ll still make it home without having to call AAA.

There is some debate over the origin of vodka, with both Poland and Russia laying claim to its invention. The word first appeared in writing in a Polish court document in 1405, but Russians claim to have been distilling vodka since the 9th century. Not to be outdone, the Poles say they were producing vodka in the 8th century; this was called gorzalka and was used for medicinal purposes. Which just goes to show that getting sick back in the dark ages wasn’t an entirely unpleasant experience. Both Russia and Poland have named vodka as their national drink, so it appears even centuries later this alcoholic cold war rages on with no clear winner.

Regardless of who actually invented vodka, it is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages around the world, praised for its universal ability to be used as a base for mixed drinks and cocktails. Or, you know, guzzled straight from the bottle if that’s your preference. We won’t judge! Vodka is usually made from either fermented cereal grains or potatoes, and in recent years, a wide variety of flavored vodkas have popped up. These range from the simple (cranberry, grapefruit, blueberry) to the unusual (whipped cream, cucumber, cola) to the what-were-they-thinking?! (gummy bear, peanut butter and jelly, bacon). It seems like everybody is trying to outdo everybody else in the crazy flavor department. 13620780_10209747854202031_7343375134862711107_n

After being diagnosed with diabetes, I was in search of “healthy” cocktails, and discovered a simple vodka and soda isn’t too terribly bad, relatively speaking. It’s got no sugar or carbs and only 96 calories per 1.5 mL, the standard “pour.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much flavor, either. But last year I discovered a local Portland vodka distiller named Wild Roots. Their vodkas are infused with flavor, and they have some rather delicious varieties available. Their Northwest Red Raspberry infused vodka is my favorite, and this evening, that’s how I chose to celebrate the holiday. On the rocks with a splash of club soda, though really, this one is perfectly drinkable straight up.

 

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277/365: National Taco Day*

Even gringos will shout “ole!” when digging into today’s food of honor. October 4 is National Taco Day!

It’s also National Vodka Day, and that’s a shame; a more appropriate pairing would be tequila or margaritas, but alas, both have already had their day in the sun. Tacos always sound good, but vodka is tasteless, so we had no problem deciding which of today’s dual food holidays we would celebrate.

Viva la taco!

Tacos originated in Mexico (duh) and consist of a tortilla wrapped around a filling. The name is generic; like a “sandwich,” a taco can consist of pretty much anything that fits inside the tortilla. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ingredients and toppings; popular fillings include beef, pork, chicken, and seafood, and toppings such as lettuce, onions, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream are all common. The word “taco” originated in 18th century Mexican silver mines; it was the name given to an explosive charge that was wrapped in paper, filled with gunpowder, and used to break up the ore. The tortilla-and-meat combo resembled this little bomb (and could also be considered a “gut bomb” in its own right, depending on the spiciness level). Tacos date back centuries; early inhabitants of the Valley of Mexico enjoyed theirs with small fish, while residents of Morelos and Guerrero preferred live insects such as ants (shudder), and those in Puebla and Oaxaca opted for locusts and snails. The first taco recipes in the U.S. appeared in California in 1914; in Bertha Haffner-Ginger’s California Mexican-Spanish Cookbook, tacos were described as “made by putting chopped cooked beef and chili sauce in a tortilla made of meal and flour; folded, edges sealed together with egg; fried in deep fat, chile sauce served over it.” Tacos became especially popular in America after World War II, where Mexican-Americans introduced them to their caucasian soldier buddies. (We, in turn, gave them Twinkies).

To celebrate, Tara and I headed into Portland to check out ¿Por Que No?, a tacqueria that gets a lot of good press and that we had been meaning to try for some time. They did not disappoint! We sampled carnitas, chicken, chorizo, and brisket tacos amongst us, and found them all to be very good. Best of all, the line that usually snakes halfway down the block was only about a dozen people deep when we arrived, so we didn’t have too terribly long a wait to contend with.

National Taco Day

Categories: Too Weird to Categorize | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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